What's a good camera for a beginner?

Hello everyone!

I have been taking more and more pictures with my phone. My iPhone X to be more specific. They were so good people wanted to know what lens I was using!

I have had a passion for Photography for a long time but I have never had the courage to take the plunge and buy a camera. I’ve decided it’s time to make the jump

I started to search for one but, I became quickly overwhelmed with the choices. I’m a beginner and don’t want to buy something super-expensive. I’m also certain I’ll want to upgrade once I get into the swing of things and I figure out what I want from my camera and what I need.

What’s better, canon vs nikon for a beginner? Something else? What should I look for in a camera for now? What to avoid?

Any help would be appreciated!

I would suggest Nikon or Canon, because if you want to try out portraits there is a ton of gear out there build on those to photo systems. No matter what direction you take, there will be options. I’m more of a Nikon fan, but either would work.

Specifically, I would look for a used D5600 or D5500. You can probably find one for $300 or $400. If you want to spend more the D7200 is a spectacular option. That may cost you $600 to $800 used.

With the D5x00 series, you will have some limitations. The flash cannot be operated in commander mode to control an off camera flash. However there are wireless flash triggers you could use.

The Nikon AF NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D lens costs about $100 and provides a ton of bang for it’s buck when it comes to portraits. The cool thing is if you wanted to go from APS-C to a full-frame camera like the Nikon D750 later on, that lens will still work.

I know someone is going to jump in here and start yelling about Sony’s mirrorless line, but there is just a plethora of options in the beginner Nikon or Canon camp.


I’m going to disagree and say you’re best off moving to a mirrorless system and avoiding DSLR. You want something like the Fujifilm X or Sony a6000 line. Those are the entry-mid level mirrorless cameras that have quality teams behind them. I would avoid anything mirrorless form Nikon or Canon. Those two companies are afraid to canibalize their DSLR lineups.

DSLR is a 60-year-old design. It’s obvious now that mirrorless systems are the future. Most mirrorless systems are smaller, have better AF than traditional DSLRs. They are going to be more expensive than the base model DSLRs from Nikon or Canon, but you should be able to find some decent refurbished ones.

I am personally a fan of the Fujifilm X line after spending years with Canon.

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I will also throw my vote in for the Sony a6000 line. I purchased a Sony a6300 after several years with a Nikon D3000, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in getting into photography, but not ready to spend several grand on equipment.

DSLR vs Mirrorless

When thinking about moving away from Nikon, I was hesitant about mirrorless cameras. Mostly because I had heard how fast the batteries drain and was unsure about the electronic viewfinders. Both of those fears turned out to be wrong. Sony’s mirrorless line’s battery was every bit as good as my previous Nikon—if not better. The EVF is incredibly easy to work with and gives incredible detail about what you’re shooting.

Sony a6500 v a 6300

I would recommend the a6300 over the a6500, which is the newest model. The two advantages the a6500 has is a touchscreen and it can film 4k video for about an hour continuously without overheating. The a6300 does not have a touch screen and it can film 4k video for about 15 minutes. Given that the a6300 is several hundred bucks cheaper, I’d say that is absolutely the route to take.

Kit Lens

Another thing—people will tell you to avoid kit lenses. Kit lenses are the ones that ship packaged with a respective camera body. Usually kit lenses are garbage, but Sony’s 16-50 mm Power Zoom Lens that ships with the a6000 series is fantastic and worth getting.


Final thing. I don’t know if you have Adobe Creative Cloud or not. If you dislike paying monthly for CC or are looking for a Lightroom alternative, Sony cameras owner get a huge discount for Capture One Pro. A full license is a $50 one time purchase—which is several hundred in savings. Personally, I don’t miss Lightroom and actually prefer Capture One. Then again, I’ve been trying to leave the Adobe ecosystem.

Hope that helps!


All these responses are super-helpful. Thank you everyone!

I have a lot going on at work and am going to delay my research a bit. I will definitely look into mirrorless options as well!