What is the First Digital Camera I Should Buy? {Ask Anything}

I’m so excited for this “Ask Anything” post, friends!!

I got a message last week from someone I met at a recent wedding, saying she was going on vacation and wanted to know a good camera she could buy!  I realized, that she is probably not the only one, wondering in this digital age where to begin with cameras!  So much has changed since I bought my first digital camera, and they’re always changing.  But I wanted to share my basic advice and explain some of the terms for you!

The type of camera I use as a professional is called a DSLR – Digital Single Lens Reflex – camera.  That basically means it is a camera fixed with a single lens (as opposed to two lenses – like the antique Rollei cameras) through which light comes in, and transfers an image onto the digital image sensor.

DSLR’s are cameras that function best when specific lenses are used for specific purposes.  This is opposed to point and shoot cameras, where there is only one lens fixed to it and comes out whenever it turns on and off.  DSLR’s are MADE so that you can take the lens on and off, and substitute one lens for another.  So, if you never intend to buy more than one lens, maybe a DSLR isn’t for you.  It’s totally okay to start with one lens!  But you’ll learn if you shoot more than one subject matter, that lenses have specific purposes.

Anyway!  Moving on!

What I recommend to most people who ask for a “nice camera” recommendation is an entry-level DSLR.  This means, it is the basic, bottom of the line camera fixed with one single lens.  It is for amateurs, not professionals, or people looking to earn an income with that type of camera.  Entry-level DSLR’s are a great way to get to learn camera settings, and how the camera works in different lighting conditions.  It does have automatic modes, of course, but I highly recommend you taking a course to learn about exposure, and having more control over your camera settings.  (Stay tuned to my blog this summer – I might have something exciting up my sleeve!)

This is a photo of my first DSLR camera!  The Nikon d40x – I got it in 2004.  Now, 10 years later, Nikon doesn’t even make this model anymore! It was replaced by the d60 a few years after it was created.  And now, the basic cameras start at D3300.


* For Nikon, I recommend these beginning camera bodies: D3300, D5300, D5500

* For Canon, I recommend these beginning camera bodies: t5i, t6i


Typically, the beginning lens that both start out with is an 18-55 mm / f.3.5, or an 18-135.   The 18-55 mm is a great landscape lens because it is super wide.  For portraits, though, I found the longer lenses work better because the zoom compresses the background more (so the person “pops” off the background).  So, that would be a 55-200 mm or the 18-135 mm.    There is so much to learn about lenses, but I don’t want to get too heavy in this blog post!


So, Canon or Nikon???

I have been a Nikon shooter for as long as I have had a digital camera (so, 10 years!)  Canon isn’t my jam.  But I know tons of people who LOVE their Canons. Truthfully, the brands are neck in neck and one isn’t better than the other.  Depending on what purpose you are using it for, one body may have a slight edge over the other for that specific purpose.  I purchased a Nikon because I started as a nature photographer and heard their detail was impeccable – and over the years have fallen in love with their autofocus system.  But Canon has some beautiful colors if you’re aspiring to be a portrait photographer.  As you buy more expensive bodies, they rival each other in these areas and they keep coming out with models that compete.  So you really can’t lose when you first start out.  My advice is to hold both in your hands.  Look at where the buttons are placed.  Listen to the “click” sound when you press the shutter.  And go with whichever feels right to you.


Hope that was helpful, friends!

Happy vacationing this summer!



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