Photography is a wonderful pastime and hobby; with some practice and the right equipment, anyone can learn the art of a good photo. Of course, to start taking photos, you will need to invest in a proper camera – unfortunately, your smartphone can only take you so far. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when searching for your first camera, and it’s even easier to believe you must invest in the most expensive camera.
Luckily, finding the best beginner camera doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. The more advanced a photographer you become, the more factors you’ll have to consider when purchasing a camera; however, for beginners, the primary considerations are price, user interface and capacity (i.e., can more advanced techniques be deployed with this camera as your photography skills improve?)
Types of Cameras
First, it’s worth breaking down the main three types of cameras that a beginner photographer may want.
Point and shoot
A point and shoot camera is your traditional beginner option, ideal teen cameras and are easy to use. These still produce impressive photographs, but unlike a mirrorless camera or DSLR, there is less capacity for user improvement; in particular, you can only use the built-in lens. The main pros of a point-and-shoot is its compact design and affordable price-point. Realistically a point-and-shoot is the ideal teenage camera, so if you’re a parent after a Christmas present, this is what you’ll want to look out for. However, if you’re an adult beginner, you’ll probably want to invest your money in one of the other two options below.
A DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera is one of the most popular beginner cameras. Not only does a DSLR produce a high-quality image, but it offers the capacity for beginners to improve. With a DSLR, you can easily interchange lenses, and add other accessories to improve your photography. The main drawback is they are quite weighty and much larger than if you are used to utilising your smartphone.
A mirrorless camera, unlike a DSLR, will show your image electronically either on the screen or through an electronic viewfinder. Like the DSLR, a mirrorless camera provides quality images and offers the flexibility of interchangeable lenses. The only real downside is some camera fanatics enjoy having a lens to view.
Buyer’s Guide to Choose a Great Camera
As a beginner, you will want to consider the price of the camera you purchase. You can’t be sure you’re going to pursue photography long-term, so it’s worth investing more further down the line when you’re confident this is a hobby for the long-haul. Nonetheless, you also don’t want to scrimp on price and limit your ability to improve. That’s why we recommend going for a mid-range pick; affordable enough for a beginner, but with the features that your camera has the potential for you to develop more advanced photography skills and techniques.
A lot of beginner photographers will initially rely on auto-mode, which takes control of exposure, focus, aperture and other features. However, if you’re serious about developing your photography skills, you’ll want to invest in a camera with an easy to use manual mode. Why? As you get more confident and more skilled, you will want to manually control and adjust the exposure, aperture, shutter speed etc. in order to achieve the most creative and unique photographs.
It’s worth prioritising a camera with an easy-to-use interface. Otherwise, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or struggle to navigate your new camera, which will then hamper your ability to make use of all the available functions and advance your skills!
Our Personal Recommendation:
Considering all the above criteria, alongside user reviews, the Nikon D3500 is the best camera for beginner photographers. It’s a DSLR with a simple, user-friendly interface. Even better, it comes with a ‘Guide’ shooting mode, meaning you have a built-in photography course within your camera – perfect for beginners!
Whilst it’s suitable for beginners, there’s nothing amateur about this camera in terms of performance; it has a 24.2MP image sensor, a 3.0-inch screen and a continuous shooting speed of 5fps (for those not in the know, that means it’s pretty fast). We also were impressed with the long battery life, so you can easily take this camera out with you for long weekends shooting your favourite scenery or people.
- ‘Guide’ shooting mode
- Excellent image quality
- Easy to use
- No touchscreen control
- No wi-fi connection
A brief tour of the world of cameras, hopefully this article has helped answer some of your queries before buying your first camera.