I have been teaching photography for nine years, and the most common question I receive from my students and on my blogs and website is, “What kind of camera should I buy?”
That is a loaded question, so I’ve decided to break up my blog into five different posts to address this question. This is Part 1 in the series on purchasing a new camera. Make sure you subscribe to my blog, for future posts about cameras and photography.
Below are the five criteria you should consider:
- What is my budget?
- Should I buy a DSLR or a mirrorless camera?
- Should I buy a full-frame camera or one with a cropped sensor?
- Should I buy a used or a new camera?
- What type of photography am I interested in?
This blog post will cover item 1: What is my budget for a new camera?
This is a good starting point for just about everyone. If you can afford a camera in the higher price range, you will have a lot more options. If you have a smaller budget, your choices are more limited, but that doesn’t mean you will not be able to take good pictures. Anything is better than a phone camera!
$300 – $500
This price range will afford you a brand-new entry level (also known as prosumer) DSLR camera accessorized with a kit lens. Canon and Nikon offer cameras in this price range. The most popular Canon cameras priced between $300 and $500 are the Rebel Series. The Canon 3t is at the bottom of the range, while the Canon 6t is at the top. Nikon offers the D3300 and D3400 in this price range. Look for Black Friday sales for the best price.
Most cameras in this price range will include an 18-55mm kit lens. The lens is adequate for a beginner, but it may limit you because you will not be able to shoot at a wide or telephoto focal length.
If you are new to photography and want to learn the basics, this is the route to go. You may have to do without automatic exposure compensation, but if you don’t know what this is, you probably don’t need it.
$500 – $1000
This price range will afford you a newer Canon Rebel, such as the 7ti, or the Nikon D5600. Sony makes a great camera in this price range. The Sony a6300 is mirrorless camera. If you are not sure what a mirrorless camera is, stay tuned for my next article. In this price range, you can possibly expect a touch screen, a new and improved sensor, more megapixels, more focus points and generally more bells and whistles.
$1000 – $2000
If you are looking for 4k video, a tilt LCD, faster frames per second, a high ISO and a superb sensor, you will find many cameras in this range. The newest Canon cameras in this price range are the 80D and 7D Mark II. You might want to consider upgrading to a better lens than the 18-55mm kit lens, if you can afford a camera in this range. Pentax offers the K-1, with a whopping 36 MP full-frame sensor. A benefit to this camera is its weather seal. I would definitely check out this camera, as I have not seen any other full-frame camera under $2000. Several mirrorless cameras fall into this price range; again, I am a fan of the Sony a6500. Nikon offers their newest cameras, D7500, D610 and D750, in this range. There are a lot more camera choices in this range if you can afford just a little bit more.
$2000 and up
Yep, $2000 and up is a big range, and it is where the full-frame cameras start. A full-frame sensor isn’t for everyone, but it can be a game-changer. With a full-frame sensor, digital noise starting at ISO 400 will be long gone. If you like to shoot in natural light, at dawn or at dusk, you should consider a full-frame camera.
The Canon full frames start with the Canon 6D Mark II priced at $1999. The Canon 5D Mark IV is in the mid-range with a price of $3500 and the Canon ID X Mark II tops the range at a whopping price of $6000. The prices are for the body only. In this price range, you can expect not only a full-frame sensor, but such features as a dual pixel CMOS, a lot more AF points, 4K video, dual card slots, a 3.2” LCD and a top-of-the-line image sensor.
The Nikon line-up starts with the D500 at $1996, followed by the D810 priced at $2996, and the D850 priced at $3296. The top of their line is the D5 priced at $6496. Again, the prices include the body only.
The top-of-the-line Sony full frame is the Alpha a99II mirrorless camera. Packed with 42 mega-pixels and tons of other high-end features, this is the camera of choice for many wedding and professional photographers. It is much more lightweight than a Canon or Nikon DSLR.
In summary, if you can afford a camera in the top range, you will not regret it, and it will give you a longer life than a camera in the prosumer range. If you are considering a camera in any of the price ranges, I recommend you visit the manufacturer’s website and do a comparison of the different models.
Stay tuned for my next article in this series: “Should I Buy a Mirrorless Camera or a DSLR?” If you enjoyed this article, please comment below and subscribe to my blog.