Camera Gear for Beginners

Photography Tips

best cameras for beginners
*Always purchase from a reputable photography equipment website and be weary of too-good-to-be-true deals!*
Every link in this post is from a reputable website that is well known and trusted in the industry.


I'm talking camera gear and many of the products I used when I first got started. In the beginning, I had no idea what I needed. I didn't even know what lenses produced the beautiful bokeh (blurred background) I was seeing in photographers images - I just knew I wanted it!
For Christmas in 2013, my husband bought me a Nikon D5200 body with the 18-55mm kit lens and, even though this is an amateur camera, I was so overwhelmed! There were a lot of buttons but I watched some YouTube videos and started to figure it out. I quickly learned the 18-55mm lens wasn't what I wanted and purchased the 50mm f/1.4. This lens is more affordable than the higher end version and produced the beautiful bokeh I coveted. I used the Nikon D5200 and 50mm f/1.4 for the first two years of learning photography and it was this gear that essentially turned me into a photographer and helped me begin my business.

Nikon now has a more advanced version of my old one, the D5600. The reason why this is an amateur camera, is because it has a cropped sensor, which is noted as DX-format. What this essentially means, is that when you put a lens on it, the image will be cropped as opposed to the same lens on a full frame camera body.

When first starting out, I think it's totally fine to learn on a cropped sensor body. It's much more affordable and easier to use at the beginning. To get around the cropping issue, just step back from your subject and voila! - you have more in the picture.



  • Touchscreen
  • Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 60 fps
  • 1 year NIKON USA Warranty
  • EXPEED 4 Image Processor
  • 3.2 inch 1.037m-Dot Vari-Angle Touchscreen
  • 24.2MP DX-Format CMOS (Cropped) Sensor
  • SnapBridge Bluetooth and Wi-Fi with NFC

Best Beginner Camera

SHOP Nikon D5600


The 50mm lens is perfect for photographing people or detail shots. If you're wanting to become a portrait photographer or get into blogging, this lens will suit your needs. The image quality is beautiful and the lens will produce a lovely blurred background especially when set to any aperture under f/2.8.

affordable beginner lens nikon

SHOP Nikon 50mm f/1.4


If the f/1.4 is a little too rich for your budget at the beginning, Nikon offers a more affordable version - the 50mm f/1.8.

The main difference in these lenses is that the f/1.4 will let in a little more light than the f/1.8. I compared the two and found the f/1.4 images were slightly sharper but the f/1.8 is priced nice.

cheap nikon lens

SHOP Nikon 5mm f/1.8

 The best camera gear for beginners

This image is a blast from the past! I took it on our honeymoon in 2014 on my Nikon D5200 with an 18-55mm lens.

For those who are looking to get into travel photography, I recommend starting with the 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G. With travel photography, you'll often need a wide angle for tight spots like narrow streets or interior pictures and a lengthy zoom for those long distance shots. The 18-105mm has a wide range and will cover it all while keeping you on budget.

Affordable Nikon Lens for Travel Photography

SHOP Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G



Alright, I started on Nikon but as I advanced, I chose to make the switch to Canon. There were a couple of reasons for this. While I felt like the Nikon produced beautiful images, all of the photographers I admired and learned from used Canon - plus, when it got down to the nitty gritty, I just preferred the colors in a Canon image compared to Nikon. From my experience, Nikon has more blue tones while Canon has more yellow tones.

A couple years into learning the photography ropes, I switched over to Canon and bought a full frame 6D. I'll go into professional gear in another post, but if you're wanting to join the Canon family right from the beginning, below is what I recommend starting with. Like Nikon, Canon offers a 50mm f/1.4 and f/1.8.


  • Format: APS-C Camera (Cropped Sensor)
  • Resolution: 24MP
  • Video Resolution: HD 1080
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
  • Frames Per Second: 6.0 fps Continuous Shooting

canon vs. nikon

SHOP Canon Rebel T7i


For portrait and details photography, Canon has the same 50mm lenses that Nikon has for a more affordable price.

canon 50mm 1.4 

SHOP Canon 50mm f/1.4


 best price canon 50mm 1.8

SHOP Canon 50mm f/1.8


 For travel or interior shots, unfortunately, Canon does not offer an affordable lens option, so you can either purchase the kit lens or upgrade to the 24-105mm STM.

With the kit lens, 18-55mm, you'll have the wide angle but you won't be able to zoom in very far. It's definitely the more affordable option as it's at the very base line of lenses, however, it's great for getting started and I always use the wide angle more than the zoom anyway.

canon lens for travel

SHOP Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6


For a few hundred dollars more, you'll get more zoom range and a sharper image with the 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM.

best lens for travel photography

SHOP Canon 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM



Adobe Lightroom is the software I use to edit all of my images. This was definitely the piece of my photography puzzle with the biggest learning curve but it's so worth learning!

If you travel and post to Instagram, you'll want the mobile Lightroom app, as well.



If you've ever posted a picture to Instagram, you know you can apply a filter to your image. Presets are similar. You'll download the preset from the retailer, import it into Lightroom, and then apply it to your images. There are so many presets out there from affordable to super expensive and many different editing styles. I have purchased several on Etsy that are great for beginners and/or mobile edits. I still use some of the mobile presets I purchased on Etsy for when we travel.

Lou Marks Photo on Etsy is my favorite for mobile and desktop presets. Just keep in mind, for mobile presets you will need to download the Lightroom Mobile App. After loading them into the app, you will copy and paste the preset's settings onto your photo. Lou Marks provides instructions for this.

Affordable lightroom presets



Etsy also has the cutest camera bags and straps! If you're on your way to becoming a photographer, you need to keep your gear safe, so you might as well do it in style.

blush pink camera bag

SHOP this bag


affordable tan leather camera bag

SHOP this bag


camera bag bakpack

SHOP this bag


scarf camera strap

SHOP this strap


affordable leather camera strap

SHOP this strap



 All of the above mentioned is a great place to start. Try not to be overwhelmed by the vast amount of camera equipment options out there. Pick a body and one lens and get started. You don't need everything at once and you definitely don't need the best equipment to begin your photography journey. The camera and lens isn't the only thing that makes a beautiful image. It's your skill with composition, angles, setting your camera properly, and editing. 

YouTube is a huge help and I'm always happy to answer your photography questions in the comments below! I'm on Instagram, too, @527photo. Let's connect!




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