Oh Shoot Podcast Camera Gear Guide for Beginners

Oh Shoot! Podcast Camera Gear Guide for Beginners


In this episode Oh Shoot! podcast, Cassidy Lynne shares the best camera gear for beginner photographers and what to look for in a camera. She also talks about how to know when to upgrade your camera and shares recommended photography gear for intermediate/full-time photographers! 

Listen to the full podcast on Spotify or watch the episode on YouTube

If you are someone who is getting into photography or you’re a photographer who wants to know what to recommend to people interested in starting photography, this podcast is for you!

What to Look for When Buying Your First Camera 

#1 Buy the camera body only & the lens separately.

When I first started photography more seasoned photographers gave me a bit of advice and the first piece of advice was to make sure you’re buying only the camera body. Make sure the camera body does not have a fixed lens! This means it’s just the camera body without a lens on it. A lot of the time the kit lenses that come with cameras are not ideal. They’re usually 18-55 mm with f/3.5-5.6 These lenses aren’t ideal for portrait photography. 

It’s worth it to buy your own camera body and buy your own lens. 

#2 Buy a mirrorless camera. 

The thing that helped me a ton was being able to see my camera settings adjust in real time and see how it affected the image. One of the huge differences between a DSLR camera and a mirrorless camera is that on a mirrorless camera when you adjust your settings it changes how the image looks in your viewfinder. Before you take the photo you can see what the end result looks like. A mirrorless camera helps you see how changing the shutter, aperture, and ISO changes your photo. 

On a DSLR camera, you can change your settings, but you don’t know how that impacted your image until you take a test photo. 

On a mirrorless camera, being able to see your camera settings and how adjusting them changes your photo is crucial for beginners.

#3 Mirrorless camera for the autofocus.

When looking for a camera body as a beginner, I also recommend mirrorless cameras for their autofocus. Focus is one of those things I really struggled with as a beginner photographer. My focus was never sharp and I didn’t know what I was doing until it was way too late. Mirrorless cameras just autofocus so nicely for you and it’s a big selling point for a mirrorless camera for a beginner!

#4 A camera with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

In a beginner camera, I’m also looking for a camera with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connection. This is huge if you want to get into self-portraits because you have to use an app to control your camera. It’s also nice if you ever wanted to send images from your camera to your phone you can do that via Bluetooth. A lot of the time newer cameras are the ones that are going to have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi so it’s going to be an indication that it is a newer camera. 

#5 Dual Card Slots

Another thing to look for is dual card slots and this may not happen with your first camera. I know my first camera did not have dual card slots and it ended up being okay. It does become important when you’re working with clients, so if you start doing client work then dual card slots is really important. When you’re first starting and you’re not working with a ton of clients, not having dual slots is not the end of the world.

IF you start photographing weddings or events that can’t be redone you’re going to want dual card slots. So when you upgrade next that is for sure a deal breaker.

#6 Bigger Sensor = Higher Image Quality

You’re going to want a bigger sensor if you can find it. Within a certain price range you’re not going to get the biggest sensor ever, but remember that the higher the megapixel number the better the image quality is going to be. If you’re going back and forth between two cameras look at the size of the sensor. If it’s 24 megapixels versus 20 megapixels you might want to lean towards the 24-megapixel sensor because it’s going to get you better image quality.

#7 Beginner Cameras = Cropped Sensor

In the beginner budget, you’re probably looking at cameras with a cropped sensor (APS-C in Canon and DX in Nikon). Cropped sensors essentially crop in your image. if you have a 50mm lens on your camera it’s actually going to act like a 75mm because it’s going to crop in. It’s hard to explain, so I would look up the difference between a crop sensor and a full-frame sensor. Whenever you transition into a full-frame sensor that’s going to be a larger sensor that’s going to have higher megapixels and the photos you take won’t be cropped in anymore. So a photo taken with a 35mm lens is actually going to look like a 35mm.

Camera Recommendations for Beginners

  • Nikon Z50- $896 (mirrorless)
  • Canon EOS R50- $599 (mirrorless)
  • Canon EOS R100- $429 (mirrorless)
  • Sony Alpha ZV-E10- $598 (mirrorless) 
  • Canon Rebel T7- $479 (DSLR, my first camera was a Canon Rebel!)
  • Nikon d3500- $517 (DSLR)

Links to all the gear I’ve recommended can be found on this Amazon List

Camera Lens Recommendations for Beginners

  • 50mm f/1.8 I’m always going to recommend this lens for anyone starting photography!
  • 85mm f/1.8 is great for portraits. 
  • 18-55mm for street and landscape photography. 
  • Depending on what camera you get, make sure the lens mount is compatible with the lens you’re getting!

Upgrading Your Camera

Let’s talk about upgrading your camera! How do you know when it’s time to upgrade your camera? 

Your camera doesn’t work anymore. 

The first and obvious answer of when to upgrade is if your camera literally doesn’t work anymore. If your camera gets to the point where it doesn’t work, you need to upgrade. A lot of people will keep their first camera as their backup in case they need it. If you’re photographing weddings it’s important to have a backup camera in case something happens to your new camera. 

If there’s something very inconvenient about your camera (battery life, autofocus, etc).

This could be a terrible battery life. Or if you struggle with your autofocus and you feel like you’re never getting super sharp and crispy images that could be a result of your camera. It might not be like a user error or lens issue. It might be that your camera doesn’t have great autofocus. 

You want to see better image quality.

Another reason to upgrade is if you want to see better image quality.  Beginner cameras have a good size sensor, but if you want to take your image quality to another level then it might be time to upgrade your camera. If you upgrade to a full-frame camera your sensor size goes up and that’s going to result in much higher image quality. 

Your camera’s features are limiting your ability to take good photos.

If your camera’s features are limiting your ability to operate your camera as smoothly as you want, that could be a reason to upgrade. For example, with one of my cameras, I really liked the touchscreen and one of my other cameras didn’t have a touchscreen. In the beginning phase touchscreen made it easy for me to tap to focus. So there could be a feature you’re missing which could be a reason to upgrade. 

Another reason is if your camera is hindering you from taking good photos. If your autofocus isn’t great that can make a big difference when you’re doing photography. I noticed specifically in my Canon 60d Mark II that my photos were never sharp and I could not figure it out. Then I upgraded to a different camera and it was literally my camera. 

You’re being booked frequently & using your camera often. 

The last reason to upgrade your camera is if you are being booked frequently and you are using your camera all the time! A new camera is a great tax deduction for your business! If you have sessions all the time you’re going to want to have a good camera, especially if you’re using it multiple times a week. 

Upgrading Gear as an Intermediate/Full-Time Photographer

Here’s what to look for when upgrading your gear: 

  • Camera with a full-frame sensor.
  • Mirrorless camera. 
  • Larger sensor (like 60MP).

Cameras for Intermediate/Full-Time Photographers 

  • Canon EOS R6 Mark ii – $2000 (mirrorless) This is a great camera! 
  • Sony A7 III- $1798 (mirrorless). I recommend anything in this series! 
  • Sony A7 IV or A9ii – $2,498 (mirrorless) Good for video!
  • Sony A7R – (mirrorless) This series is great too.
  • Nikon Z7ii – $2300 (mirrorless).
  • Best budget full-frame: Canon EOS R8 – $1300

All my gear recommendations can be found on this Amazon List!

Lenses for Photographers 

Once you’re ready to upgrade your camera body, you’re likely at the point where you understand the lenses that you’re looking for and what type of look each lens can help create.

Here are the lenses I recommend: 

  • 50mm is a classic!
  • 35 mm f/1.4 another great and classic lens!
  • 24-70mm f/2.8 I just got this lens for video work and it will also be great at weddings specifically ceremonies! 

And those are my gear recommendations for photographers who are just starting and for photographers who are looking at their next upgrade! I hope this episode gave you a bit more insight into some of the technical things to think of when buying a camera and makes looking into camera gear feel less daunting!

Show Notes

Everything listed in this episode is on this Amazon List

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