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The Top 6 Cameras for New Photographers (From a Pro Photographer & Student Mentor)

on November 20, 2023

Canon EOS camera sitting on wood board.

This blog was written by Daniela Dawson, an NYIP Student Mentor. For over a decade, Daniela Dawson has worked globally as an event and commercial photographer. She currently runs and mentors an agency, Sister City Photography, of handpicked, ambitious photographers out of Boston with an artful and authentic style. Dawson strives to expand her artistic abilities in different forms of media, with a true love and admiration for the visual arts.

Whether you're an aspiring photojournalist, event photographer, portrait artist, wildlife photographer, videographer, etc - finding your perfect camera can make all the difference in your craft. These cameras all come with a kit lens, so as long as you have a battery, memory card, and some creative ideas, you’ll be ready to shoot!

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Mirrorless cameras vs. DSLRs

We’re in an exciting time in the world of photography - most camera manufacturers are shifting their focus to make mirrorless cameras - replacing the “old technology” of DSLRs. DSLRs are still great cameras, and many professional photographers continue to use them, especially if they have built up their “kit” with many compatible lenses and accessories. You’ll see we list two DSLRs here, but the rest of these cameras are mirrorless.

Beginner photographers may opt for mirrorless cameras over DSLRs for several reasons. First, mirrorless cameras are typically more compact and lightweight, making them easier to carry and handle, which is especially important for newcomers. Second, mirrorless systems often offer advanced autofocus features, which can simplify the process of capturing sharp, in-focus images for beginners. Additionally, the live view on the LCD screen in mirrorless cameras provides a real-time preview of the image, helping beginners to visualize and adjust settings more effectively. And lastly - this is the direction the world of photography is heading. If you’re just starting to build your kit, I’d recommend going mirrorless.

The 6 best cameras for new photographers

1. Canon EOS Rebel T8i

Our first camera on the list is the Canon EOS Rebel T8i, a fantastic choice for budding photographers who want to use a DSLR. The Canon Rebel series has been around for a long time and has always been a go-to camera for beginner photographers. One of my first DSLRs was one of the first models of the Rebel!

With a 24.1-megapixel APS-C sensor, this camera delivers stunning image quality. Its user-friendly interface and guided mode make it an excellent starting point for beginners. The included 18-55mm kit lens is versatile for a wide range of photography styles, from landscapes to portraits. The T8i offers quick and accurate autofocus, a flip-out touchscreen for easy framing, and exceptional low-light performance.

2. Nikon D5600

The entry level DSLR Nikon D5600 is a good option for those who want to stick with a DSLR camera, or those who already have Nikon lenses fit for a DSLR (always check your lens mount to assure your lenses will work with another camera body or get an adapter!)

With a 24.2-megapixel sensor, this camera produces sharp and detailed images. The 18-55mm kit lens provides flexibility, allowing you to experiment with different styles of photography. The D5600's intuitive touchscreen interface and connectivity options are perfect for sharing your photos and learning the manual controls of a camera. It's lightweight for a DSLR, making it a good choice for photography enthusiasts who love to travel with their camera.

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3. Sony Alpha a6000

On to some amazing mirrorless cameras - which are becoming the preferred choice for travel, street, and some event photographers.

The Sony Alpha a6000 offers an impressive 24.3-megapixel sensor in a compact package. This camera is perfect for travel and street photography. With the included 16-50mm kit lens, you'll be able to capture wide landscapes and intimate portraits with ease. The a6000 boasts lightning-fast autofocus and incredible burst shooting capabilities, making it a stellar choice for action shots and fast-moving subjects. The electronic viewfinder and tilting LCD screen add to the fun of shooting, giving you the creative control you desire.

Many photographers are loving Sony brand cameras, and their high-quality images are hard to deny. Sony is putting out new models regularly, so I'd recommend keeping up with this brand to see what new and exciting features are on the horizon.

4. Fujifilm X-T200

Fujifilm is a trusted name in photography, from back in the days of film. Lately, they are making sleek mirrorless cameras that capture beautiful photos, and also look great! If you're just building your kit, and you like the look of "vintage" cameras and film photography, Fujifilm may be the brand for you. There are many camera options out there, and I'd recommend seeing what they've put out recently as new models come out regularly.

Here is one I'd recommend for beginners - the Fujifilm X-T200 has a 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor that ensures vibrant and detailed photos. The included 15-45mm kit lens covers a broad range of focal lengths, making it suitable for everyday photography. The X-T200's retro-inspired design, responsive touchscreen, and user-friendly interface are perfect for beginners. The Fujifilm X-T200, as well as most of their mirrorless camera options, include the brand's legendary film simulations, which add a unique and artistic touch to your images.

5. Sony A7 ii

The Sony a7 II Mirrorless Camera is an ideal choice for novice photographers, especially those looking for a full frame sensor in a compact body. This small but mighty camera is great for traveling and capturing great detail in your shots. Its full-frame sensor delivers excellent image quality, even in challenging lighting conditions, and the versatile kit lens covers a range of focal lengths, making it suitable for various photography styles. The user-friendly interface and adaptability of this combination provide beginners with a seamless entry into the world of photography. The link above contains the 28-70mm kit lens, which is a versatile focal length, great for a first lens.

6. Panasonic Lumix G7

Last but not least, we have the Panasonic Lumix G7, great for photo and video. The G7 features a 16-megapixel sensor and includes a 14-42mm kit lens, which is fantastic for a wide variety of shooting scenarios. The G7 has 4K video recording capability, allowing you to capture stunning video in addition to high-quality photos. The camera's 4K Photo mode lets you extract stills from video footage, opening up new creative possibilities - you can essentially capture photo and video simultaneously. It is small in size and the controls are easy to use, so this is a great beginner camera for those with a heavy interest in video as well as still photography.

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Tips for buying the right camera

The right camera can make all the difference. These camera options offer a perfect starting point for beginners. They provide a range of features to explore, learn, and create stunning images, whether you're passionate about landscapes, portraits, action shots, or artistic photography.

Cameras, however, can definitely be an expensive purchase. If you see a camera you love, but it's out of your price range, try searching for it used! I'd recommend getting your lightly used camera or lens from a reputable dealer like B&H or Adorama. Always be sure to ask how many "shutter articulations" the camera has. Shutter articulations are like miles on a car, and you'll want a camera with a lower number.

Even for new purchases, I'd recommend buying your camera from a reputable dealer like B&H, Adorama, or your local camera store. If possible, try to "try out" a camera before you purchase - you can usually do so at a camera store, or by renting cameras and lenses online.

Remember, the best camera is the one that feels right in your hands and "sees" the way your eye sees, too. So take your time, explore your options, and try out a few cameras before making a purchase if possible. You can always try renting gear before you commit to purchasing. I'd recommend,, or your local camera store. Happy shooting!

Good luck on your search for the perfect camera, and feel free to reach out to your NYIP student advisor with any questions.

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