Thinking about taking up photography? Or maybe you know someone that is, and you want to buy them the perfect beginner camera as a gift? Either way, having a high-quality camera is essential for snapping the best pictures, and even novices can make their shots look like they’ve been at it for years. StudyFinds turned to photography pros to find the best beginner cameras that appeared most frequently across experts’ lists.
Will you go DSLR or mirrorless? Not sure? DSLRs have been around for longer and rely on mirrors to produce images. They tend to be bulkier and heavier than their mirrorless counterparts. Do not mistake them as inferior, though. With some brands you may even find a wider selection of lenses for the DSLR than the mirrorless.
The newer systems, the mirrorless, as the name suggests, do not have mirrors. With fewer mechanisms inside the camera body than DSLRs, they tend to be lighter and more compact. Most companies have full lines of lenses for mirrorless bodies, but if you do fancy a particular focal length, it’s worth checking to see if it’s available before buying a mirrorless body.
It can be tricky when entering the world of photography as a beginner. Aside from choosing mirrorless or DSLR, you will want to keep an eye out for some of these features in a beginner camera.
Tips for Choosing a Beginner Camera:
- Sensor Size: Opt for cameras with larger sensors (APS-C or Micro Four Thirds) for better image quality and low-light performance.
- Ease of Use: Choose a camera with user-friendly controls and a straightforward menu system to make the learning process smoother.
- Auto Modes: Look for cameras with intelligent auto modes that help beginners capture great shots without diving into manual settings immediately.
- Lens Compatibility: Consider a camera with a variety of compatible lenses to allow for future growth and experimentation as your photography skills develop.
- Image Stabilization: Prioritize cameras with in-body or lens-based image stabilization to reduce the impact of shaky hands, especially in low-light conditions.
- Viewfinder vs. LCD Screen: Decide between cameras with optical viewfinders for a traditional shooting experience or those with tilting LCD screens for more flexibility in composing shots.
- Weight and Size: Opt for a compact and lightweight camera, making it easier to carry and handle, especially for beginners on the go.
- Autofocus Performance: Look for cameras with reliable and fast autofocus systems, crucial for capturing sharp images, especially when shooting moving subjects.
- Wireless Connectivity: Consider cameras with built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth for easy transfer of photos to a smartphone or tablet, enhancing your ability to share your work online.
- Battery Life: Check the camera’s battery life to ensure it can last through a day of shooting without frequent recharging.
- Budget Considerations: Set a realistic budget and explore cameras within that range, considering not only the initial camera purchase but also potential additional costs for lenses and accessories.
We’re excited to take some pictures, so let’s get to those cameras! We checked nine expert reviews to see which are the five best beginner cameras that most often appeared on the pros’ lists. Of course, we want to know which camera is your favorite, so comment below to let us know!
The List: Best Beginner Cameras, According to Photography Experts
1. Nikon D3500
This DSLR showed up on just about every list we looked at. The experts speak highly of it as an entry-level camera thanks to how user-friendly it is. RTINGS writes, “built right into the mode dial, the Guide Mode walks you through the camera’s features in simplified terms, so you can learn the ropes of photography as you go.”
This camera is sold bundled with two lenses, an 18-55mm for wider-angle shots, and a 70-300mm telephoto so you can zoom in on those far off objects. Right out of the gate you’re covered for just about every focal length you could want and need.
As for the specs, ZD Net writes that it “comes with a 24.2MP DX-Format CMOS sensor, EXPEED 4 image processor, Bluetooth connectivity, strong video capture function, and is capable of 5fps image capture with an ISO range of 100-25600.”
If you’re looking to graduate from your phone camera to a mirrorless system, look no further. Tech Radar writes that this camera is “designed primarily for smartphone switchers, its ergonomic grip, approachable button layout and handy flip-down touchscreen give it good versatility, without cluttering the classically styled shell.”
As for specs, this Olympus will provide you with 20.3MP, video recording capabilities in 4K at 30p, a 3-inch tilting touchscreen, and 15fps shooting.
And just how user-friendly is this model? Space.com writes, “there are 21 scene modes that tweak the settings to produce the best shots in given environments.” By choosing the mode that best fits the scene you’re shooting, the camera will adjust for you. Not too bad.
3. Sony a6000
Here is another mirrorless camera option, and you can find it bundled with a 16-55mm lens. We did a little digging and found that you can purchase this camera bundled with both the 16-55mm lens and a 55-210mm lens, which will allow you to capture scenes both close up and far off.
With this camera, the LCD screen can aid you in honing your skills. Shotkit writes, “here’s the key – any adjustments you make with your camera’s settings show up as exposure adjustments inside that little LCD screen… before you take the shot. As a beginner learning photography, this is an invaluable lesson on how ISO, Aperture and shutter speed can change the way a photo looks… all in real-time.”
This camera has 24.2MP, a 3-inch tilting LCD screen, shoots up to 11fps, and offers full HD video taking abilities.
And if you’re looking to photograph in low-light situations or even at night, Today writes, “the Sony mirrorless camera offers a great low-light feature and technology to let you capture beautiful images.”
According to Digital Camera World, this isn’t the cheapest beginner camera, but it may be worth shelling out the extra cash for upgraded options. They write, “the EOS Rebel SL3 (aka EOS 250D / EOS 200D Mark II) has Canon’s top-of-the-range APS-C sensor with 24.1MP of resolution and brilliant Live View shooting, thanks to a fully-articulating touchscreen display and Canon’s fast Dual Pixel CMOS AF autofocus.”
You’ll find Canon cameras in the hands of many pros for good reason. The brand has been producing quality cameras since 1934.
And when it comes to shooting video with this camera, The New York Times writes, “the SL3 can shoot 4K video, and its intuitive touchscreen is ideal for beginners, especially if you’re used to working with a smartphone.” And who isn’t used to working with a smartphone these days!
To round out our list, we have a Panasonic that Creative Bloq labels, “one of the best beginner cameras for social media creatives.” They note its small size which makes it easy to bring with you wherever you go to shoot stills or video.
This camera gives you 20.3MP, a 3-inch vari-angle screen, up to 10fps shooting, and 4K video. Its specs fall right in line with the rest of the cameras listed here.
And if you’re looking for a camera capable of vlogging, Digital Camera World writes, “even people uninterested in the technicalities of capturing great-looking videos will be able to get results with this camera.” They also note the “simplicity” of this camera, making it a great option for beginners.
You might also be interested in:
- ZD NET
- Tech Radar
- Digital Camera World
- The New York Times
- Creative Bloq
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.