Photography is much more than having a camera with many megapixels, zoom or apertures. Since its inception, the dream of freezing instants thanks to the domain of light has been a major challenge that has allowed combining art and technology in perfect balance.
Today, almost all of us have an excellent camera integrated in our smartphone and, obviously, the sales of dedicated devices has been seriously affected. However, there are still many who want to approach photography “for real” and do not know very well how to start. They are dedicated to this article.
My first question for those who decide to buy a camera is what they intend to do with it. It is not the same that looks for a camera for trips or vacations than the one that wants to go into the manual mode and take out its artistic side, without limiting itself to “aim, shoot and climb to social networks”.
As with any other purchase, the biggest fear of any user is to spend hundreds of euros on something that he will not be able to take advantage of , whether due to lack of knowledge or, most commonly, boredom and laziness. Just as problematic is the other extreme, investing in a device that does not allow us to advance in the hobby and falls short too soon is not a good idea.
To help you make the best decision we will divide the article into two parts : a series of questions and answers that allow you to reflect on what you need and a selection of our favorite SLR to start.
Tell me what picture you are going to take and I will tell you which camera you need
Although the usual response will always be “a little bit of everything” it is better to reflect a little more before deciding. If we have never had a real camera, we are likely to get tired very soon of carrying a heavy body and dozens of accessories in the backpack, so it may be a good idea to opt for a mirror without a more compact size.
Beyond dimensions and weight, I do consider it essential to opt for a reflex camera (or a mirrorless one with a quality viewfinder), an APS-C sensor (or higher, if you can afford it) and dials or buttons for manual control ( and not within a cumbersome menu).
Do not just see several websites and choose a camera to have it in your hands. My recommendation is to approach a specialized store or a shopping center and try it until you are sure that we are comfortable with it to avoid unexpected surprises.
You have left over with the objective of the kit (for now)
It is possible that you have read in many specialized forums that the kits are not worth it and that the “included” lens rarely allows you to get the most out of the camera. From my point of view, this is a half truth. The beginner user needs to take many photos (surely thousands) before reaching the theoretical limitations of that objective that many despise.
Although the zoom that these kits usually include is not of high quality (especially in terms of brightness) nor can it compete with a fixed one, it is a good companion to start with. When you take hundreds of photos with the kit, analyze which focal or focal ones you usually use the most and buy the best fix you can afford. Do not hurry to expand your collection of objectives until you are clear that you will be able to take advantage of them.
Which camera to choose? Focus on SLR and mirrorless
In the huge offer available you can enter cameras of all kinds but, from my point of view, if you want to take seriously the fans it is worth opting for a “real” camera. There are fantastic compacts for traveling capable of taking colors to any mobile and bridges that can make sense for a certain user profile but, with the current prices, there are few excuses not to guess.
Regarding the debate between SLRs and those without a mirror , the main difference for someone starting is the size and the viewer. Having fewer moving parts and not needing to refract light, mirroless have more compact sizes, some more autonomy and behave better in burst. On the other hand, they replace the classic optical viewfinder with an electronic one. It’s a matter of taste but never, in any case, buy a camera without a viewfinder if you’re going to take the picture seriously.
Don’t go crazy with the specs
Everyone loves the feature tables, the comparatives and the biased reviews that can be found on the Internet, where each camera faces dozens of tests to help you choose the best one.
Obviously, there are better cameras than others but, for a novice, the differences are minor. Beyond megapixels, AI, autofocus or 4K video buy a camera that you like and with which you feel comfortable: technology helps, but never replaces the photographer.
Do not discard the second hand market
As we have already commented in this article, a percentage of those who start in photography get bored in a short time and try to recover some of their investment by selling in the second hand market. The specialized forums, above generalist markets like Wallapop or eBay, are my recommended option.
Do not fall into the error of buying a very advanced camera to find it at a good price , the idea is to acquire one of the models for beginners that we recommend (or similar) at a lower cost. When you have been in the hobby for a few years you will understand that, on many occasions, the body is not the most expensive of the photographic equipment.
These are the accessories you need to get started
In addition to the camera and the lens, it is worth investing some money in a comfortable bag or backpack that allows you to protect and carry the equipment wherever you want. Do not forget a second battery (the autonomies have improved, but not so much) and a couple of memory cards . It is much better to carry two 32 or 64 Gbytes cards than one of 128.
On the other hand and although they cannot be considered accessories, it is worth investing in some training . The Internet is full of free resources, but it is not a bad idea to enroll in a basic course (and with a practical component) with which to learn the basics from the hand of someone with experience. Quickly amortize spending by improving your photographic level.
Our selection of cameras for beginners
Below, our list of recommended models. Please keep in mind that it is updated as of the date of publication of the article and that there may be price variation. Obviously not all of them are, but all that are are very suitable options to start with photography.
The successor of a mythical model of the Japanese house and a classic for beginners. Compact, light and with more than enough features to take the next leap at a fantastic price. If you can spend something else, the D5600 is an important quality leap.
- Lighter and lighter than the D3400
- Remarkable 11-point AF focusing system
- Autonomy of more than 1,500 shots
- Smartphone connectivity
- Practical guide mode for those who hate instruction manuals
- Price 496 USDs
The SLTs are halfway between the traditional and the mirrorless SLRs, and have allowed Sony to compete from you to you with Nikon and Canon for a few years. This is a perfect entry model to start. If you want something more compact, the A6000 series onwards is the best option.
- Fantastic focus and stabilization system
- Customizable buttons
- Dedicated controls for aperture and shutter
- Tilting LCD
- Excellent ergonomics
- Price 584 dollar
One of the best models to start from Canon and higher than the 4000D that you can see in many offers. Intuitive, easy to use and with a fantastic price. If the budget allows, the EOS 800D is also very interesting.
- Lightweight and ergonomic
- Excellent quality / price
- Remarkable autonomy
- WiFi and NFC connectivity
- Price 399 dollars
A basic model, with a spectacular retro design and designed to enjoy manual control. It is worth noting the quality of its screen and a size and weight that invite you to always carry it on. The top model, the X-T20 , improves on everything but costs about 300 euros more.
- Beautiful design
- Competent objective
- Physical manual controls
- Very good option for street photography
- Price 675 dollars
Olympus E-M10 Mark-II
The third version is already on the market, but this is still a fantastic option to get into the cameras without a mirror . Again, a retro design that convinces, improved focus and versatility to adapt to any type of scenario. The improvements of the Mark-III are not worth it unless you find it at a very good price.
- Compact and lightweight
- Remarkable electronic viewfinder
- Five axis electronic stabilizer
- Great value for the price
- Price 898 dollars
Panasonic Lumix G7
If in addition to good photos you are interested in video , this veteran of Panasonic should be on your list of options. Excellent ergonomics and very good behavior with low light for an all-terrain camera.
- Adjusted Price
- Excellent on video
- Remarkable build quality
- Inherit many qualities of the fantastic GH4
- Price 500 dollars