Buying advice for amateur photographers

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So you want to buy a camera?

The most important part of getting a camera is to make sure you have something that you are willing to carry around with you all the time!

I am sure not all the advice here will be popular, but this is what I learned buying cameras/lenses for the last 10+ years. I wish someone told me these before. Basically:

If I were to start again

Here are three scenarios that I would suggest considering.

Single camera only

If you like photography and want to explore more but do not want to spend your time/money on collecting new gear. You need something that will serve you well and cover more or less anything thrown at you. A cellphone normally would be a better idea but you want a bit more.

Pick a camera with a smaller sensor (APS-C) and a wide range zoom starting from 16-24mm going to 100-200mm range. Many cameras come with a kit lens just for this purpose. Something like 18-140mm or 18-200mm would be perfect. Consider picking used equipment. However, if you have the means using a mirrorless system is also a great option.

Using a camera with interchangeable lenses could keep your options open just in case.

Single camera that you can expand

You enjoy photography, and want to experiment but you do not want to invest significantly just yet. You want to start slow, and see how much you like it, before you move to something better.

Get a camera with a smaller sensor (APS-C) and a fixed (prime) lens suited for a full frame sensor. For both I would suggest using older used equipment, especially for the lens. Anything with 10-20 Megapixels should be more than enough for the camera, there are excellent bodies like Nikon D90, Canon EOS 50D from about 2010 that would all work well.

For the lens, the classical idea would be to pick a camera with a kit lens, but my suggestion would be to pick a prime lens between 24mm and 50mm compatible with a full frame sensor. As for the aperture anything with f/2.8 would do perfectly, no need to go crazy. From lenses I own I would suggest something like Nikon 35. If you are interested in macro photography, portraits, wildlife etc, maybe a longer lens up to 100mm would also be an idea, but for these look for cheaper lenses with larger aperture (i.e. more than f/2.8). Your goal is to pick a simple, light lens, that let's you experiment, but something that will also work on a full frame lens (just in case).

Get two cameras

You are passionate about photography, and want to do more. You have maybe already started with the single camera to grow part and want to do more.

Basically expand your setup from single camera to grow by acquiring a full frame camera. Your lenses will work slightly differently between your bodies (one APS-C and one Full frame), giving you the illusion of having twice as many lenses.

Of course carrying 2x cameras is a lot of weight. Using a higher class universal zoom like the Nikon 28-300 in theory would be all you need with a single camera. Prime lenses are usually lighter and faster, but most importantly they force you to work with what you have. If the picture does not work, you will have to move, come closer, or go further away. Unlike a Zoom you can not simply zoom in and out. Many people have commented how that has helped them become better at photography, and I absolutely agree.

Once you start using prime lenses, there will be situations where things will not work out. A second camera with a complimentary lens will be your main setup.


  • You will end up paying more for your lenses than your cameras. When you start, you concentrate on the cameras, but lenses are actually more important.
  • Reviews from equipment will be not always be helpful. Of course a 40 Megapixel camera is better than a 20 Megapixel camera, there is no question about that. But for 99% of the cases, even a 10 Megapixel camera is more than you need. And when you are in that 1%, you will no longer be reading those reviews.
  • Even for used equipment there are some trends that drive/keep prices up for certain equipment. You definitely do not need to pay thousands for a 58mm f/1.2 lens.
  • Do not spend time arguing about your gear, talk about your photographs instead.

These pages are for Amateur Photographers and not really for seasoned photographers and professionals. I have no affiliation or commercial interest with any brand/make. I write from my own experience. I ended up using mainly Nikon, so I am more familiar with this brand than others. See price for notes on pricing as well as photography related links.