Entry-Level Cameras for Aspiring Photographers


Ah, the first camera. Few things spark more passionate reverie in photographers than the camera that got them hooked on making pictures. But what kind of camera should that be? Below are a few suggestions for you or someone you know who is just getting started. There are many, many, many, more great cameras than can possibly fit into a single article on this topic, so be sure to browse online or visit in store if you are looking for more options.

Mobile Device Accessories

Among the consequences of the overwhelming popularity of mobile devices is that the technologies inside of them is constantly improving. The optical and processing capabilities of new phones and tablets make for competent cameras if you are just getting started and are unsure about purchasing a camera. There are several apps you can install to lend greater control over the settings of the camera built in to your phone. These apps will prepare you if you do decide to take the plunge into a more manually controlled camera. For even better quality, you can attach lenses to your mobile device to boost its macro, wide angle, or telephoto capabilities. Read up on the difference between mobile and dedicated cameras here.

Moment Wide Lens

Point-and-Shoot Cameras

“What is an affordable camera that will produce better images than my phone?” I hear a version of this question at least once a month from a family member, friend, or friend of a family member. There are plenty of cameras on the market that can do just that. The universal benefit of moving from a phone to a dedicated camera is sensor size. Free of the mobile form factor, “point-and-shoot” cameras are able to incorporate better optics and sensors. There are plenty of candidates for “all-in-one” starter cameras, and nearly all new digital cameras will provide satisfactory images for everyday uses. Nikon’s Coolpix P1000 and its older model, the P900, are popular choices for a camera that can frame nearly any subject. Boasting 24-2000mm and 24-3000mm equivalent zooms respectively, both cameras are as equipped for shooting architecture across the street as a bird across a lake. If you need even more reach, the P900 has digital zoom capabilities that can achieve up to 332x combined while the P1000 can get 500x. Both offer 5 stops of optical image stabilization when working at extreme zooms. See each camera in action here: P900 and P1000.

Nikon COOLPIX P1000 Digital Camera

If you are trying to get more control and quality in a super-compact form factor, Sony’s RX100 cameras are extremely capable and pocketable. Models up to the DSC-RX100 VA have 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 lens, great for landscape, travel, and portraiture. The DSC-RX100 VI and DSC-RX100 VII shift to a 24-200mm f/2.8-4.5 lens, adding greater reach at the cost of slightly lower optical performance in low light. The VII also boasts the fastest autofocusing in a 1" sensor camera to date, making it a great choice for sports and wildlife. Learn more about the VII here or compare the entire series here.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII Digital Camera

DSLR Cameras

DSLR cameras are an excellent choice for photographers who want to have full creative control, including the ability to choose different lenses. If the photographer you are shopping for is serious about photography, you can’t go wrong with a DSLR. Among the benefits of choosing this type of camera is that many new DSLRs can fit or adapt older lenses that may be collecting dust somewhere in your house. Canon’s EOS Rebel SL3 is a solid starter DSLR, with a 24.1 MP APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 8 image processor that provide consistent performance under a variety of lighting situations. It is also capable of producing in-camera 4K time-lapses and 4K video recording at 24p. It can be purchased bundled with the versatile EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens. See the SL3 in action here.

Canon EOS Rebel SL3 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm Lens

Pentax’s K-70 is an equally strong candidate for first camera with its 24.24 MP APS-C CMOS sensor and PRIME MII image processor. The K-70 has an ISO sensitivity expandable to 204800, making it exceptionally capable in low-light situations. Additionally, it has an all-weather build for outdoor shooting and incorporates Shake Reduction image stabilization, as well as Pixel Shift Resolution for capturing detail-rich imagery. It can be bundled with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 or 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.

Pentax K-70 DSLR Camera with 18-135mm Lens

Mirrorless Cameras

There is no denying the popularity of mirrorless cameras in today’s photography world. One of the major benefits of shooting with mirrorless cameras as a beginner is that you can see what your photographs will look like, in real time. FUJIFILM has created a handful of mirrorless cameras that are excellent performers and aesthetically pleasing. The X-T100 is a great camera with which to begin. Its 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor and hybrid phase and contrast-detection autofocusing capabilities will keep your images consistently sharp and in focus. FUJIFILM cameras also incorporate film-simulation modes that mimic the look of different types of film for creative applications. It can be bundled with a 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 lens, or both. Read more about the X-T100 here.

FUJIFILM X-T100 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 15-45mm Lens

Panasonic’s Lumix GX9 serves as a solid entry into its system of Micro Four Thirds sensor cameras, featuring a 20.3 MP Digital Live MOS sensor. If you plan on complementing your still shooting with video, the GX9 is capable of recording 4K video up to 30p. It can also shoot full-resolution stills up to 9 frames per second and includes image stabilization for up to 4 stops of shake. It comes with a versatile 12-60mm (24-120mm equivalent) f/3.5-5.6 lens.

Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 12-60mm Lens

Analog Cameras

Maybe it is pure nostalgia but there is something to be said for learning the ropes of photography on a film camera. There is a constantly changing selection of analog cameras available in B&H’s Used Department for those who dare to learn the old-fashioned way.

Have you tried any of the cameras on this list? Have one to add? Let us know in the Comments section, below!