What to consider when buying a new camera?
There lies the assumption, that only an expensive camera means great, high-quality photos. Well, that’s just not true.
Luckily, with the constant advancement in technology, cameras that take very good photos have become available to virtually everyone.
If you’re new at photography you might feel overwhelmed by the variety of cameras on the market. So, I created a list of the 3 best cameras for beginners.
In this review, you’ll find a list of the top 3 cameras, that are available at around $500.
The best cameras for beginners are those that are easy to use, let you swap lenses, and can grow with you as you learn
There are a lot of cheap decent cameras out there, but the selection below is stacked with only the most excellent cameras available at a low price.
- Sensor: 24.2 MP APS-C CMOS
- Lens mount: Nikon F
- Screen: 3.0-inch fixed display, 921,000 dots
- Burst shooting: 5fps
- Autofocus: 11-point AF
- Video: Full HD 1080p
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
- Battery life: 1,550 shots
- Weight: 415g (with battery and card)
- Remarkable 1,550-shot battery life
- Excellent image quality
- Compact for a DSLR
- Easy to use
- No 4K video
- No touchscreen
- No Wi-Fi
It features amazing ergonomics, excellent image quality, and decent performance.
Although it is usually sold in a kit with 18-55 lens, there are countless options beyond this standard giving you unparalleled flexibility.
New Nikon D3500 comes with a new 24.2MP sensor capable of producing excellent detail. Absence of an optical low-pass filter allows for images rich in detail.
Dynamic range is surprisingly good – you can significantly underexpose your image and still be able to recover detail without introducing too much noise.
Colour rendition is also very good.
ISO ranges from 100-25,600, which is also pretty wide for such a low cost camera, however, I’d recommend you to no shoot higher than ISO 1600.
Design of the D3500 has been considerably changed from the D3400.
Most significant is the large grip, which makes for better balance when shooting, especially with longer lenses. Large grip doesn’t mean a heavier camera, though. Nikon has really put a lot of work into this one and actually shaved of 30g in comparison to D3400.
D3500 comes with a 3.0-inch display, which is unfortunately not a touchscreen. Resolution isn’t spectacular either with modest 921,000-dots. Optical viewfinder’s colour replication is also very good.
You can buy Nikon D3500 as a standalone camera with no lens, or bundled up with 18-55mm lens. This focal range is decently versatile, covering everything from wide-angle for landscapes to mid-range telephoto suitable for portraits.
Although 18-55 is good lens, I will list a few other compatible and very viable lenses you should definitely check out and consider buying.
- Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35 mm f/1.8G – great for portraits, very decent price
- Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300 f/3.5-6.3G – all purpose lens, the only lens you will ever need
- Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24 f/3.5-4.5G – wide-angle lens perfect for landscapes, cityscapes, and interiors
Final Verdict | Nikon D3500
Nikon D3500 has arguably the best price to value ratio in this review.
It is a great choice and almost a no-brainer for every beginner opting for a DSLR. It’s new 24.2MP sensor is comparable to those found in $1k+ cameras. ISO performance is good overall, however, considering the price of the camera it is great.
Build quality is exceptional – D3500 is sturdy and fits well in the palm of your hand.
Sadly, there’s no 4K video capture or touchscreen LCS, which can both be found in most smartphones.
If you’re looking for a great beginner camera, which has also progression flexibility with a wide variety of lenses, look no further.
- Sensor: 24.1 MP APS-C CMOS
- Lens mount: Canon EF-S
- Screen: 3.0-inch fixed display, 920,000 dots
- Burst shooting: 3fps
- Autofocus: 9-point AF
- Video: Full HD 1080p
- Connectivity: Bluetooth and NFC
- Battery life: 500 shots
- Weight: 475g (with battery and card)
- Good image quality
- Easy to use
- Bluetooth & Wi-Fi
- No 4K video
- Fixed, non touchscreen display
- Viewfinder displays only 95%
Canon EOS 2000D is Canon’s entry-level very affordable DSLR.
It is a replacement for Canon’s EOS 1300D and also kept most of its features, except for an upgraded sensor resolution.
EOS 2000D offers a route into the world of DSLR photography for an affordable price of around $360. It that is still too much for you, you can opt for EOS 4000D, Canon’s new super-cheap model.
Canon EOS 2000D comes with a relatively high-resolution 24.1MP sensor, which is capable of producing good images, especially in a good lightning conditions.
Colours are true and vibrant as with most Canon’s sensors.
In low-light conditions you might notice loss of detail, with some area of the image, especially the corners, being smudgy. As with all low cost cameras I suggest you stay away from high ISO, unless you have a very good reason to do otherwise.
Bigger APS-C sensor brings a lot to the table, such as well-rendered out of focus areas.
EOS 2000D’s metering does a good job getting the exposures right. I do, however, advise you to pay attention to histogram in high-contrast scenes and adjust the exposure, since the camera might not get it right.
You will never have to worry about resolution due to the abundance of pixels available in sensor – making cropping always a viable option.
The EOS 2000D doesn’t differ from 1300D all that much. That’s actually isn’t entirely a bad thing, especially because 1300D was a decent model.
Optical viewfinder covers only 95% of the frame, which can be a nuisance when an unexpected object creeps into your frame, and is noticed when you come home and upload the pictures.
As with all Canon cameras, 2000D seems bulky. For those who have larger hands this might be a good things, since it gives you a better grip.
Screen is a 3.0-inch, 920,000-dot fixed panel with a decently good viewing angle, and is bright and clear enough. Sadly, there’s no touch functionality that we’d love to see in 2020.
You are here to learn, meaning that over time you will need more lenses and luckily for you – Canon EOS 2000D has a lot of viable options.
- Canon EF 50mm f1.8 STM – Very good lens considering it costs just above $100.
- Canon EF-S 55-250mm f4-5.6 IS STM – Telephoto high-quality lens.
- Canon EF-S 35mm f2.8 Macro IS STM – The only macro lens you’ll ever need.
Final Verdict | Canon EOS 2000D
Canon EOS 2000D is in many regards very similar to aforementioned Nikon D3500. Sensor has almost the same resolution, image quality is relatively similar.
Some people will probably opt for Canon over Nikon for one reason – EOS 2000D comes with a Wi-Fi.
This is another great beginner camera with good multi-purpose kit lens, that will help you start with your photographic journey.
- Sensor: 24.3 MP APS-C CMOS
- Lens mount: Sony E-mount
- Screen: 3.0-inch tilting display, 921,600 dots
- Viewfinder: OLED electronic with 1.44M dots
- Burst shooting: 11fps
- Autofocus: Hybrid AF, 25 contrast-detect and 179 phase-detect points
- Video: Full HD 1080p
- Connectivity: Wi-FI and NFC
- Battery life: 300 shots
- Weight: 468g
- Good image quality
- Image Stabilization
- Powerful features
- Battery Life
- Lack of Budget Lenses
- Poor Low Light Autofocus
- Poor high ISO performance
The next camera on this list of best cameras for beginners is a mirrorless Sony Alpha 6000 (also A6000), a APS-C version of the full-frame Alpha 7.
For Alpha 6000 you might have to burn some more money than for previous two models, but the extra bucks will pay off huge dividends – Sony Alpha 6000 is easily one of the best mirrorless entry level cameras.
Even though numerous new iterations have come out since its release, its performance, longevity, and features remain unmatched in this price range.
Sony Alpha 6000 comes with a newly designed 24.3-million pixel APS-C CMOS sensor, responsible for very sharp images and beautifully saturated colours.
Detail rendering is satisfactory even at higher ISO values. Image smoothing becomes noticeable at ISO 3200+, however, I suggest you don’t go higher than ISO 1600, unless absolutely necessary.
Metering system does a good job exposing images in optimal light conditions, but as with every (low-budget) camera its performance declines in high-contrast situations.
Alpha 6000 has plenty of customisable controls to help you tailor the camera fully to your needs.
One the biggest advantages of Alpha 6000 over its mirrorless competitors is a built-in electronic viewfinder, where a lot of its rivals don’t. It also has a tiltable screen, that has no touch functionality.
The grips is slightly pronounced, making it easier to hold. It also comes with a neat texture covering the camera, which makes it more comfortable to hold and operate.
A6000 comes with standard kit lens 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6. This is a good starting lens, covering wide-angle at 16mm for landscapes, cityscapes, and indoors.
As you progress you might find yourself wanting more, and there where this next list comes in handy:
- Sony E 35mm f/1.8mm OSS – Great value and bokeh, useful focal distance
- Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS – Very good zoom lens, with great image quality, and outstanding sharpness
- Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS – Wide-angle with virtually no distortion and amazing value
Final Verdict | Sony Alpha 6000
If you want a low-cost mirrorless camera that’s way better than price suggests, you should definitely buy Sony A6000. Its ISO performance, detail rendering, and image quality are virtually unparalleled in this price range.
Once you buy camera and take some good photos, it’s time to buy a photo editing software. Most people have difficulties choosing between Lightroom and Luminar 4, but for every beginner I strongly recommend Luminar 4.
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Matic is a landscape photographer from Slovenia and creator of Photutorial.