So you are interested in getting into photography. May I be the first to welcome you to the family! This is a fun adventure and I’m to be part of your photography journey.
As a photographer, I get asked frequently what gear I use and what recommendations I have for beginner photographers. I feel the best way to answer this is by explaining how I got into photography and what gear I used along the way.
First Click of the Shutter
In college, I was introduced to photography from my interest in Instagram. I noticed that really high-quality images would perform better than your basic iPhone shot. This led me to learn all about composition and what makes a photo eye-catching. The more and more pictures I took with my phone, the more and more interested I got into photography. I would read every article that I could come across and watch every YouTube video I could find that related to photography. During this learning stage, I was really fortunate to have access to really nice photography equipment. My job on campus had a Canon 60D and one of my good friends let me borrow her Nikon D3400. The first photo session I ever did was with my good friend using the Nikon D3400 with kit lens.
The Nikon D3400 is an amazing entry-level DSLR. It has a ton of capabilities that make it perfect for anyone starting out in photography, videography, or both. The controls are easy to learn and there are a ton of resources online that can help you master this camera in no-time. On Amazon, you can get this camera body with a kit lens for around $500.
Purchasing my own equipment
The only problem with the Nikon D3400 is that fact that it is very basic. While it is a good camera, it’s better suited for amateur photographers not looking to make a professional career out of photography. If you have the intention of making photography your career, I suggest starting on a mid-tier camera body such as the Canon 60D.
Right now, you can find a really nice used Canon 60D body on eBay and on Amazon for about $300. Pair this with a Canon 50mm f/1.8 that runs for $125 brand new, you have yourself a set up that costs under $500. This is the set up that I had when I first began taking photography seriously.
I found that the Canon 60D both challenged me to learn about the camera but also allowed me to take amazing photos from the get-go. It can shoot in automatic or manual depending on your skill level. There is also a flip-out screen that is very handy for videography and taking photos in awkward positions. It is a crop sensor to take into consideration the focal length changes in the lenses you use with it.
The only problem I see with this body for today is that it is on the older side of things. It does produce really good results but it might be worth looking into the prices of used 70D & 80D’s on the market. You could get a really great deal on an amazing camera!
Pairing the 60D body with the Canon 50mm f/1.8 is perfect. This lens the all-time best investment I have ever made. At such a low cost, you can surpass the nasty kit lens and get something that will actually produce the results you are looking for. Here are some images I've taken with this lens.
After a couple months using the Canon 60D, I felt that I wanted to invest more into my passion. While this is incredibly fast to be upgrading, to be honest, I think I purchased a shitty used product. The coloring was really off and I noticed it was struggling in some of the most basic conditions (like sunset). This is very unusual and please don’t take my case as a reason to not pursue that body. After returning to the body, I decided to look into the costs of upgrading to a full-frame camera.
With consideration of my budget (below $1000), I decided to get a used Canon 5D Mk2. To say I love this camera is a complete understatement. It performs wonderfully and you can find one used for around $700. I only had this camera for a short time as it died on me during a shoot. There was an internal failure. I literally had to compose myself during the shoot and not cry. it is a truly professional camera and one that I have fallen in love with. When I plan on upgrading, I will be turning right back to the 5D series as my first choice. Canon's products are absolutely amazing and you would not be upset if you went in this direction.
After my 5D Mk2 died, I decided to go with the newer but similar functioning Canon 6D. This is an amazing camera! I got it used on Amazon for around $850. I know many photographers that use this body and for good reason. It is a total workhorse. Along with the nifty Wi-Fi feature makes it a great camera for those looking for a full-frame but are on a budget. It is the cheapest full-frame that Canon offers but it doesn’t lack in functionality or professional performance. The only thing that makes me lean towards the 5D Mk2 is the auto-focus points and shutter speed quickness. I find focusing on the 6D to be harder than it should. There are plenty of YouTube videos that go over this if you want more of a technical overview, but I typically enjoy having the most focus points as possible in my camera bodies. I also noticed that the shutter speed availability doesn’t go nearly as fast as the 5D Mk2. This is not as big as an issue as the autofocusing, but as a natural light photographer that sometimes is forced to shoot mid-day, I could definitely use as quick of a shutter speed as possible to keep wide aperture. Both of these issues are not major though. I live with them and only notice them in extreme situations.
Now that you have an amazing camera body, let’s get to the lenses I use with my 6D. First and foremost, I almost always shoot on the nifty fifty. The Canon 50mm f/1.8 is an amazing lens that I have used since the beginning. I am, however, looking to upgrade this lens to the 50mm f/1.4. Next up is my favorite lens ever, the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art. This is the lens that everyone and the mother are using. It does take some calibration with your camera to be extra sharp, but I highly recommend it. Lastly, I have the Canon 24-105mm f/4. This is basically the kit lens for full-frame cameras but it is a really great lens to have in your kit. I use it mostly when travelling for the wide range. Plus, it’s from Canon’s L-series line which is the premium of the premium of Canon glass.
I know this was a lot of information and I’m sure I didn’t need to include how I went through my equipment. But alas, I believe the more information the better when making purchasing decisions. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me! I’d love to help.
**pardon the use of stock imagery from other photographers. Their work was great & felt the need to use them to share the love <3