Picking a Beginner Camera

Nikon D7000

Nikon D7000 - by Nikon

The question I get most often is, “What kind of camera should I buy?” That’s a big question and a lot depends on your budget and what kind of photography you’ll be pursuing and at what level.  The word beginner comes in many contexts: are you a beginner to shooting for money or using a camera period. Different options apply.

Professional and Semi-Professional

You’re planning on making money with your camera or plan to do a lot of shooting as a semi-pro or amateur. You have $1,800 to $2,500 in your budget.

Cameras: Nikon D300s , Nikon D7000Nikon D700, Canon 5D MKII, and Canon 7D.

If you’re shooting stills, go with Nikon. If you think you’ll be doing a lot of video go with Canon. Nikons have video recording capability, but most of the video accessories are made for Canons.

Advanced Hobbyist

You are really serious about taking pictures, but you have a day job in another field. Photography is a serious hobby. There’s an outside chance you’ll be taking a paying job, or filling in for friends who can’t afford a professional photographer. You have a budget from $800 to $1,500.

Cameras: Canon 60D, Canon T3i, Nikon D3100, Nikon D5100

It’s pretty much just which ever camera you like in this range.

You Just Want To Take Good Pictures

You want to take great pictures, but mainly of your family and friends. You want something better than a pocket camera and you might want to experiment with manual controls once in a while.

Your budget is $400 to $800.

Cameras: Sony NEX-5N, Canon S100, Nikon P7000, Samsung NX100

Remember you can always use Snapsort to get the latest and best camera recommendations, including beginner DSLRs, semi pro DSLRs and small high quality cameras.  Our system will produce slightly different results from our editorial coverage as it allows you to define your exact personal criteria.

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15 Responses to “Picking a Beginner Camera”

  1. Biff September 21, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    Great recommendations for September, probably no good by November. Do you plan to update your article every couple of months, Chris?

    If not, timeless advice on what makes a camera a good beginner’s camera would have been better.

    If not, please change the article’s title to “Picking a Beginner Camera – September 2011 Issue”.

    • Editor September 21, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

      Snapsort automatically updates its camera pages to include successors as well as common competitors. So people viewing this article in the future and digging down to learn about the cameras will be able see newer cameras and decide for themselves, we’ve also added a link to our recommend features which is up to date all of the time.

  2. Biff September 21, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    Also, I noticed that the Canon S100 won’t be available until October 5. Have you used this camera, Chris? Are you recommending a camera that you haven’t even seen yourself, to a beginner? Please reply.

  3. geoge September 21, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    Where is Sony SLT-A55?

  4. Jaime September 21, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    I guess you left out the camera featured in the image… the Nikon D7000!!
    I think you meant to add it in the first of your categories.

  5. tonks September 21, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

    What about super-zoom camera?
    I’m into choosing a new camera and am devided between beginner DSLRs and bridge cameras (super-zoom). I am very tempted by the Kodak Z990 because of the value that it offers. And dont want to spend big money for DSLR but always wanted to have one. Any advice?

  6. Anh September 21, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    Very good article. Though I didn’t see any Pentax camera in it :) I picked up a Pentax K-r for my hobby :)

    • Din M September 22, 2011 at 12:14 am #

      I also picked up Pentax K-r and upgraded it to Pentax K-5 in 3 month period. :-)

      • Anh September 22, 2011 at 12:28 am #

        Oh nice :) Why did you upgrade to K-5?

        Pentax K-5 is a bit heavy and expensive to me :) Someone recommended me to use a 2nd K-7, but I finally had K-r :)

        • Din M September 22, 2011 at 5:23 am #

          K-r also a good dslr but K-5 is a better one. yes it si expensive and almost double the price of k-r but it a well spent money though. :-)

  7. Dave September 22, 2011 at 1:10 am #

    I love my K-5 for professional use as well as advanced hobbyist

    • Din M September 22, 2011 at 5:24 am #

      i’m agree!!

      • Anh September 23, 2011 at 9:41 am #

        K-5 would be my next upgrade… maybe next year :P

  8. lee September 25, 2011 at 5:57 am #

    how about sony a77? :)