I've had quite a few people lately tell me that they want to get into photography and ask me for camera recommendations. I'm always happy to share my knowledge and answer any questions, but I figured I might as well put it here on my blog for everyone!
Firstly, the most important thing for you to know if you are wanting to get into photography is that you need to learn to use your camera on Manual Mode. You cannot just buy a more expensive camera and expect to have amazing photos. I’ve often heard it compared to a chef’s pots and pans; while they are certainly important, it is the chef that makes the food good or bad; similarly, it is the photographer who knows how to take a good photo. Learning Manual Mode is hard, but once you understand it and have practiced for a while, it becomes second nature, I promise! Using a DSLR on automatic is just a waste, so don’t do that. If you don’t want to put in the work to learn manual, just buy a nice point and shoot. Further, you have to learn about how light works, about composition, and about editing - there is a lot that goes into photography.
Resources for learning manual mode:
- Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson book
- Under the Sycamore blog and Snapshop online photography workshop
- Clickin’ Moms blog, forum and online workshops
- Click it up a Notch tutorials and blog
- Google and YouTube are also full of resources
Also, photography gear is expensive. It’s easy to spend a whole lot of money on this hobby, but it is also possible to only purchase the basics and still get some awesome pictures! In this post, I am just going to start with those very basics. If you get those things and still have more money to spend, let me know and I can offer some more options for you – but these are a good start!
The Canon Rebel line is great – I had a Rebel (t2i) for several years and it took me from beginner through my first year in business. You’ll learn that while the camera is an important tool, it’s your skill and knowledge that will really take your photos to the next levelAs far as which Rebel, I haven’t stayed up to date on what they’re coming out with, but I would suggest anything above a t2i (the larger numbers – t3i, t4i, t5i, etc – are newer models, so depending on how much money you want to spend you might look into more details on those models, but I think the main differences are things like rotating screens, touchscreens, etc which are nice but ultimately aren’t that important to the end product of the photographs). I would not get a rebel without the “i” at the end of the model because they are the lower end and won’t be as good in lowlight, won’t focus as well, etc.
Good quality lenses are really expensive. Most DSLRs offer the options to come with what is called a “kit lens,” like the 18-55mm or 18-135mm lens. These lenses are not great, but if it’s all you can afford it’s better than your phone for sure. Better quality lenses will result in sharper, clearer pictures, and the ability to open up the aperture wider which allows you to take photos in lower light (especially indoors) and to have those blurry background that everyone is after.
I would recommend getting the Kit Lens to start with unless you have a larger budget. If you have more money to spend, then getting the camera body only along with something like the Tamron 28-75mm/2.8 lens would be a great option.
If you plan on learning Manual Mode right away (which you absolutely should!) I would highly suggest also getting a Prime Lens to work with as these are the easiest to learn with and will result in sharper, higher quality images with those wonderful blurry backgrounds! I would start out with a "Nifty Fifty" which runs about $125 new or a Sigma 30mm 1.4 if you can. The Sigma lens is better quality and a wider, more natural point of view in my opinion and it's what I used on my Rebel when I was learning.
Buying used equipment is a great option to save money as well. Adorama is a very reputable camera store that sells used equipment if you prefer to buy from a store, or I have purchased used equipment on forums, ebay, or facebook groups - just be careful buying from individual sellers and make sure that everything is working right before you do anything!