The Best Camera For Photography Beginners in 2018 (& Why it can be your phone too?)

If you’re reading this, you must be a photography beginner who is looking to upgrade his camera or buy a first serious camera.

But you might not need a new camera.

Because to take your photography to next level, you don’t need new fancy gear.

A film camera might work really great for someone, some photographers prefer smaller point and shoot cameras, some street photographers use the iPhone and many use the DSLRs or mirrorless systems.

A camera is a tool that helps you express visually. So the camera that you enjoy using and which doesn’t hinder your joy of taking photos is the best camera for you.

The goal of this post is to help you make an informed decision and for the same reason, it is as detailed as possible.

A question that comes to every photography beginner’s mind:

Do you need expensive Pro-Grade camera & lenses to start serious photography?

The answer is an absolute NO.

You don’t need a DSLR or any pro equipment to start photography. If you own any type of working camera, you don’t need to buy new equipment.

To understand this better, take the example of cooking, If you want to learn cooking, what would you buy the first? a cooker? Spices? set of Knives? If you live in a house where a meal is cooked often, you do not need to buy any of these.

But how do you learn cooking then?

Well, cooking is a skill and no equipment can teach you a skill. Same goes for photography, it is a skill that can be learned even by someone with a very basic camera or a smartphone. Photographers make the photos not cameras. Same way how the reason behind a delicious meal is not the oven, but the person who cooked.

 Photography ≠ Heavy and Costly Gear

Gear like camera body, various lenses, filters, tripods etc. can cost you a lot. But like I said above, you need skill, not fancy gear.

You can take great photos without much investment, with the camera you already have. It can be any camera, a point, and shoot, an old film camera, even your phone.

Why phone can be your primary camera too?

As a photographer, over the years I have learned the value of a smaller device. Though there are many cameras available which are smaller than a DSLR, they are not small enough.

Smartphones these days have great camera capabilities. Over time we have seen how the camera software in phones has improved the overall usability. Meaning we can reliably use smartphone cameras for photography. One of the recent examples of the phone camera performance is when a cover of Vogue Magazine was shot with the OnePlus 6.

There are also multiple benefits of using phone camera:

  • Speed – Its quick to use a phone than a camera to capture images.
  • Discreetness – you can use it without intimidating your subject and take more candid shots.
  • Images can be processed and shared on the go – It is a way shorter process than using a DSLR.
  • RAW Capture- With some new flagships phones, you can also capture RAW files which has much more light information which provides great flexibility in post-production.

If you don’t know what is a RAW file and why should you use it. Check out this link.

RAW vs. JPEG | The Ultimate Visual Guide | SLR Lounge

Image Quality Vs Quality of Photography

The image quality is one of the factors that matter when you start doing professional work. However, until you reach there, the great image quality that pro cameras offer would not add value to your photography.

A beginner often feels that better gear, better image quality would mean better photography, because he thinks “I already take great photos, I just need the pro gear”. However, that is not the case mostly. If you already take great photos, you maybe already know that gear is not limiting your creative aspirations. But if you feel upgrading camera is all you need, you are most likely have a lot left to learn.

 It would always payoff more if you invest money and time in learning photography (books, workshops, and practice) more than gear.

This article is not aimed at stopping you from buying a new camera, there can be many reasons you may actually need to buy a camera.

If you fall into the beginner category, the camera should facilitate your creative expression and provide enough control over that. Below are the most important factors for a camera to have:

  • Manual Control of Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO
  • RAW Capture
  • Tripod Mounting Possibility

Why are these three so important?

A camera can’t see the way humans can. Our eyes have greater resolving power and wider dynamic range than any of the cameras ever made.

Have a look at this link to understand it better:

Cameras vs. The Human Eye – Cambridge in Colour

But that being said there are a lot of things a camera can do which our eyes can’t, for example, a long exposure, freezing of motion, shallow depth of field etc. For such reasons, it is important to have manual controls.

When you click an image, the sensor captures the light data and the processor converts it into a file, there can be two types of files, a JPEG file – which is small in size and easily readable by most devices, and a RAW file- It contains RAW light data. The image processor within the camera creates the JPEG file out of light data as per predefined settings, in the process it deletes the data which it thinks is not useful. The resultant JPEG file has lesser light data and hence very less flexibility to make changes required to match the image with the source.

However, with a RAW file, the light data remains largely untouched and it can be developed into a picture as per the photographer. It is essentially the light as the sensor recorded it. This gives a plenty of flexibility to choose the settings like highlights, shadows, color, and sharpness etc. and can help create an image which is true to the source.

No matter how stable your grip is, camera shake is impossible to avoid at lower shutter speeds. And no matter what genre of photography you go into, you will surely face a situation where you will need to go slow on the shutter speed and will need to stabilize the camera. Though, the good news is, almost all cameras come with a tripod screw hole. And mounts are also available for phones.

The recommendations are divided into three categories- Crop sensor DSLR, Crop Sensor Mirrorless & Compact cameras,. I have kept the full frame cameras out of the list because this is for beginners. All these have their pros and cons and no one camera is perfect, but the decision should be made on personal preferences.


Camera Recommendations

Crop Sensor DSLR

These camera bodies have a sensor bigger than the compact cameras above. Which results in better image quality and bigger size. There are other plus points too, like better autofocus system & better grip.

Nikon D3400

Best camera for Beginners Nikon D3400

Megapixels: 24.2MP | Maximum frames per second: 5fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p (Full HD)


Canon 800D

Best Camera for Beginners Canon 800D

Megapixels: 24.2MP | Maximum frames per second: 6fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p (Full HD)

Nikon D5600

Best Camera for Beginners Nikon D5600

Megapixels: 24.2MP | Maximum frames per second: 5fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p (Full HD)

Crop Sensor Mirrorless

These have similar sensor size as the DSLRs above & are slightly more compact but still bigger than the compact cameras we discussed above.

Canon EOS M50

Best Camera for Beginners Canon M50

Megapixels: 24.1MP, Viewfinder: EVF,  Maximum frames per second: 10fps, Maximum video resolution: 4k

Sony A6500

Best Camera for Beginners Sony A6500

Megapixels: 24.2MP, Viewfinder: EVF,  Maximum frames per second: 11fps, Maximum video resolution: 4k

Fujifilm XT2

Best Camera for Beginners Fuji Xt-2

Megapixels: 24.3MP, Viewfinder: EVF, Maximum frames per second: 8fps, Maximum video resolution: 4K

Compact Cameras

These are a really good choice for those who are leaning towards street photography. The image quality would be not at par with the cameras in the next two categories due to the smaller sensor size. However, it would still be reasonably good.

Panasonic ZS100

Best Camera for Beginners Panasonic ZS100

Sensor: 1-inch type, 20.1MP, Lens: 25-250mm, f/2.8-5.9, Monitor: 3.0-inch touchscreen,  Viewfinder: EVF,  Continuous shooting: 10fps, Movies: 4K

Sony RX100 V

Best Camera for Beginners SonyRX100V

Sensor: 1-inch, 20.1MP,  Lens: 24-70mm, f/1.8-2.8, Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle display, | Viewfinder: EVF,  Continuous shooting: 24fps, Movies: 4K

Sony WX220

Best Camera for Beginners Sony wx220

Sensor: 1/2.3-inch CMOS, 18.2MP, Lens: 25-250mm, f/3.3-5.9, Monitor: 2.7-inch display, Viewfinder: No, Continuous shooting: 1.5fps, Movies: 1080p



Best Of Luck.



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