Beginning Photography Cheaply

So you want your very first “real camera” — you want a DSLR. You’re ready to step up from your point-and-shoot or smartphone. But you’re not sure what you should buy to get started, and you don’t want to spend too much money as a beginner. Here’s my advice:

Buy a Used Camera

If you want to get started without spending a lot of money, buy used. I understand that some people aren’t comfortable with buying used items, especially when it comes to electronic equipment. But the camera market is one where buying and selling used equipment is actually quite common, and you’ll be fine if you buy from a reputable source with a good return policy (I’ve used both KEH.com and Amazon without any issues).

Buy a Nikon

For a beginner, choosing between Canon and Nikon is often an agonizing decision, so I’m going to make it easy for you: just buy a Nikon. Okay, I’m a Nikon fan, it’s true. But they really are great cameras, and any Nikon DSLR made after 2011 is going to give you very high-quality images. And when compared with similar cameras from Canon, Nikons usually have more megapixels and better sensors.

Buy One Lens

When you’re shopping for your used Nikon, keep in mind that it’s likely just the body you’re buying. You’ll also need to buy a lens. But don’t buy a bunch of lenses. As a beginner photographer, you’re going to be figuring out your style and what you like to shoot. Get one general-purpose lens and stick with that for a while.

My Specific Recommendation

Buy a used Nikon D3300 and a 35mm f1.8G DX lens. The Nikon D3300 is a very good camera, with excellent image quality. It’s also small and light, which means you’ll be more likely to throw it in a bag and bring it with you everywhere.

The 35mm f1.8G DX lens is a great all-around lens. It’s inexpensive, very sharp, focuses quickly, and it’s small. It’s also good for low-light situations, such as night photography or taking pictures of your friends in dimly lit bars. The lens is also good for people shots since it will give you that nice “blurred background” look when you take a picture of someone’s face. Also, it can focus very closely on objects — great for food shots, for example. You can get both the camera body and lens used for around $500 or less. And you won’t have to buy anything else for a while.

Good luck getting started on your photographic journey, and if you have any questions feel free to e-mail me, message me on Instagram, or leave a comment below.

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