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“What is the best camera for a beginner?” is a frequently asked question… and usually it’s from anyone looking who has been considering the jump from their phone camera to a DSLR or mirrorless camera.
This may surprise you, but I wouldn’t necessarily rule out starting with a point and shoot digital camera either. They have some pretty cool features and some shoot in RAW data, which allows you to do more editing if you’d like (like this one from Canon).
The best camera for a beginner depends on a few different factors, like:
- Weight / Mobility
Most importantly, what are your goals for a camera within the next 1 to 3 years?
Before you invest in your first piece of photography equipment, read through some of the below concepts so you can make an informed decision and get started taking amazing photos!
Brand and Cost
One of the first considerations to make when choosing a beginner camera is what brand and cost you are looking for. Cameras can have additional features that can be difficult to discern from one another at different price points.
When considering a brand, think about whether or not you can grow with that brand (don’t worry, I wrote about this topic specifically).
If you’re just getting started in photography or only want something inexpensive, consider a DSLR which can be a great entry-level camera. If you have a little more to spend and want something better suited for professional photography, look at mirrorless options.
My go to recommendation for beginners used to be a Canon DSLR (Rebel series) because the camera body is great and you can attach a wide array of different lenses as you grow in your photography journey. That being said, you have to connect with the camera and get a feel for it. Not everyone vibes with Canon and that’s where Nikon usually comes into play. For cost purposes, DSLR cameras are still usually in the top recommendation for entry level photographers.
This answer used to be more simple, but with the technology changes and more options to choose from, it’s become a bit more complex. I actually had to revamp this whole article that I had written a few years ago, and create 4 more in order to give this topic the justice it deserves.
Weight and Mobility
Another consideration to make when buying your first camera is the weight and mobility of the equipment.
Weight can play a big role in how you use your camera. Trust me on this – it’s a big reason I’ve invested in the Fuji Mirrorless camera set up and ultimately moved to Sony full time. The best option for you might be a mirrorless or DSLR camera, as these can vary in size and weight based on camera body type and the lenses you decide to use.
For those looking for something small and lightweight that they could carry around with them while traveling, brands like Sony or Fuji offer mirrorless cameras that are perfect.
Don’t count Fuji out, either, as Consumer Reports rated 3 Fujifilm cameras in their top 10 Mirrorless cameras for the 2023 Top Picks of the Year.
Speed and Responsiveness
It would help if you also considered the speed and responsiveness of it. If you are looking to take action shots, like sports or wildlife photography, then you’ll want a camera that works well at fast shutter speeds.
Shooting surfing at sunrise or wildlife in the African bush, I look for camera bodies that are good at fast shutter speeds in low light.
Another factor for consideration before buying your first camera: what features are available? These can vary from one brand to the next and might be something that you’re unaware of until after making a purchase. Purchasing camera gear can be a real investment, so you want to think through your goals thoroughly before making a decision. If you’re not sure about some things, consider renting first.
There are so many options available that it can be challenging to know where to start.
But if you keep in mind your budget and what exactly will work best with your needs, you’ll soon be taking your new favorite photos!