Hi friends! A couple of people asked what camera I use/recommend after Monday’s post which made me realize that as often as I get asked that question in person, I’ve never blogged about it. I get this question (or at least questions about cameras and lenses) nearly as often as the question of where to get good prints. So today I want to fill you in on the advice I usually give when I’m asked about a good camera for photography as a hobby or for someone wanting better pictures of their day-to-day life.
As a Disclaimer:
My first DSLR was considered a “mid-range” one so I can’t speak a lot about the beginner cameras. And I’ve used Nikon exclusively so I can’t speak to Canon. But I can share what I know and fill you guys in on what I normally recommend when people ask. 🙂
A Bit of History:
I started with the Nikon D5100 and then upgraded to the Nikon D7000 after two years because I needed a faster shutter speed and to be able to change settings more easily while out in the field taking photos. After another year I upgraded again to the Nikon D750 because I needed a full frame camera for my photography business. And truth be told, I have loved all three of these cameras.
Each of the cameras I’ve used can take incredible photos with the right lens (more on that below) including the D5100 even though it’s the “cheap” one. All of our photos from Italy were taken with that camera and I started my photography business with that camera. And if photography is just a hobby for you – that line of cameras is what I would recommend. Currently the Nikon D5300 and D5500 are the versions that are out, but they are in that same 5000 series. And if you want to save lots of pennies, feel free to purchase the D5100 online. Since there are newer versions out now, it has dropped in price.
Even if you’d like photography to be more than a hobby to you, then I’d still recommend the Nikon 5000 series as a great place to start. But if you already know a bit about DSLRs and how they work then the D7000 series is an awesome go-to. The current version is the Nikon D7200, but you can still purchase the 7000 online (thank you, Amazon). So many of the settings are available on the camera body without having to go to the menu to change settings. This makes it so much faster to adjust settings while out in the field. And if you are looking at full frame pro level cameras then this whole blog post is probably a bit simplified for you, but I can’t say enough good things about the Nikon D750. It’s my baby. And I love it. ❤
Some Things You Need to Know:
You need to know about Ken Rockwell if you have questions about cameras and lenses other than what I’m talking about here. His website isn’t the prettiest thing, but it has the most helpful information. He reviews and compares products constantly. If I have a question about cameras or lenses, I often go to his site.
You need to know that if you leave your DSLR in “auto” all of the time, you aren’t going to get the gorgeous photos your camera is capable of taking. If you are going to invest in a DSLR camera, I can’t recommend enough that you actually learn how to use it. I have learned 10% of what I know about DSLRs from the user manual, 10% from other photographer friends, and the other 80% from using it in the field and then Googling answers to my questions. There is so much information out there and I’m happy to help you find it – if you have questions, please feel free to ask.
You need to know how awesome prime lenses are for the popular bokeh effect (you know, when your subject is in perfect focus and everything else is blurred). So my advice when you buy a DSLR camera is to not bother with the kit lens that comes with it. Order the body only and save your pennies to buy a prime lens instead. I started my photography business with the Nikon D5100 and a 50mm 1.8/f prime lens. Today I shoot with a Nikon D750 and change between a 35mm 1.8/f lens and a 85mm 1.8/f lens. I sold my 50mm because I rarely used it once I had the other two. However, the 85mm isn’t cheap so if you are doing the whole photography thing as a hobby, I highly recommend starting with either the 35mm or the 50mm 1.8/f prime lens (and if you need help decided between those two lenses, talk with me! I’m happy to help you decide).
You need to know that prime lenses do not zoom. This means that you literally have to move your body closer or further away from the subject you are photographing in order to get the shot you’d like. It’s weird at first, but once you get used to it, it’s second nature. And the gorgeous photos more than make up for the inconvenience.
You need to know that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great times to buy cameras and lenses. I have bought and sold lenses on Craigslist, but the majority of my camera shopping happens online (and I have bought both new and used cameras). Amazon and Adorama are the two I shop the most because they offer the best deals and best return policies. However, make sure that the products you buy are not Gray market because they won’t be covered by Nikon if you have issues with them. Look for Product of USA in the description or on the box. It’s clear on Adorama’s site, but Amazon can be a little trickier.
And finally, you need to know that cellphone cameras are getting better and better every year. Currently my Samsung Galaxy 5 cellphone takes better photos than the first point-and-shoot digital camera I got in 2005. If you have a great camera on your cellphone, don’t feel like you have to get a physical camera just to take photos. Cellphone cameras amaze me with what they can do and I’m sure they will only get better. Even as a professional photographer, there are lots of days that I leave my DSLR behind and use my cellphone because it’s easier, more accessible, fits in my pocket, and still takes great photos. Just something to consider before you invest in a DSLR.
I know that was a lot of information and yet not very in depth at the same time. I tried to give a basic overview as much as I could. If you have further questions, please feel free to ask! I’m happy to help out!
How do you normally take photos? On your Phone, Point & Shoot, DSLR?