As a photographer I get asked all the time about “What camera should I buy?” People want to know about photography equipment…what I use, what lenses people should buy, what to get for gifts for photography newbies, etc., so, I thought I would share some ideas for great photography gifts at great prices. This post contains affiliate links.
For the photographer who wants a DSLR Camera
You’ve probably heard the term DSLR camera, but may not know what it is, so let me break it down for you. A DSLR CAMERA is a larger, more professional camera that allows you to change lenses. One MAJOR benefit of a DSLR is that there is NO delay between the time you press the shutter button and when the camera actually captures the image. When digital cameras first came on the market the delay of smaller, fixed lens cameras was BAD. Sometimes as long as 2-3 seconds difference. When you are trying to take pictures of a toddler who is constantly on the move, in the amount of time that would pass between when you pushed the button and the camera actually captured the image, your toddler could have been on the other side of the room! This made for lots of blurry/smeared images and frustrated photographers. While smaller cameras have gotten MUCH better in the delay department, there is still NOTHING better than a Canon or Nikon DSLR. Any parent, grandparent or person who is interested in photography enough to think that they might like to shoot pictures for other people at some point or wants to produce super high quality, crisp images for any reason, should own one of these cameras. Here are some of the best deals I could find and a little bit about each one.
For the Advanced Photographer:
If your loved one has already owned a DSLR camera and is looking for a body upgrade (I mean, who isn’t looking for a body upgrade, am I right? lol! 😉 You are in a bit of a higher price range here, but this is more of an investment for some time. Here are some great deals on the latest and greatest higher end bodies. These are for the photographer who knows what they are doing, is totally comfortable shooting manual ALL the time, and is looking for a few more features that their older body doesn’t offer. They probably also already have a nice selection of lenses.
Nikon D850 Camera Body This is the one I have my eye on. Right now this is the highest ranked DSLR body by several tech magazines. I currently shoot with a D700 which these days is considered a dinosaur, but is still a great camera. These are fully manual (no auto settings) camera bodies.
Now, lets talk about camera kits for a minute.
When most people are looking to buy a camera, it’s because they want to take good pictures. When most people talk about a “good picture” they are talking about what is often referred to as “the blur” or it’s technical name, the bokeh. Here is a good example of a picture with good bokeh…
If you notice in this image, the waffles are in perfect focus, but the design on the plate, the blueberries next to the waffles and the detail on the chippy wood table are are a blur. That blur causes your eye to naturally focus on the waffles. What surprises most people is that the blur actually comes from the lens, NOT the camera body. You can have a very basic camera body and still achieve a professional look like this with the right lens. I want you to know this so that when I tell you a bit about the cameras below, you will understand a bit more about where your money is going.
In order to provide more consumers with DSLR cameras at a more affordable rate, both Nikon and Canon created kits that they sell at many big box stores. These kits usually include a camera bag, camera body, one or two lenses, maybe a memory card, and a few other accessories. Basically everything you would need to get started taking really nice pictures. The lenses are usually one shorter range (18-55mm for example), and one zoom lens (55-200mm for example). The “mm” on the lens tells you how far in and out you will be able to zoom. The important number on the lens, and the number that makes the cost of the lens skyrocket, is actually the number after the “f” listed on the lens. It will look something like this 50mm f1.4 Without getting too technical, you will notice that the lenses that come with kits are generally somewhere in the f3.5-5.6 range. So, what does that mean? It means that it is a perfectly fine lens, one that will shoot nice pictures, but it will not let you do anything artistic or get that “blur” that you are hoping for. If this isn’t something that you even care about, then don’t worry about it. Buy the kit and enjoy! If your loved one or gift recipient is hoping to be able to get that artistic look, then you will have to buy an additional lens to go with your kit. The lens I always recommend to my students is the 50mm f1.8 (this one is the Nikon version) but Canon will make the same lens for their cameras. It is the best bang for your buck. When considering a new lens for your camera, be careful of the compatibility. For instance, the kits, which I will talk about below, require different lenses than the bodies I mentioned above. I am most familiar with Nikon, but what they have done is make different, more expensive lenses that are only compatible with the kit cameras…they are formatted differently. The lenses I linked above are compatible with the above camera bodies, but not those I will talk about next. When you are looking for a new lens you should see something like this mentioned..
- Note: Autofocus is not supported by D40, D40x, D60, D3000, D3100, D3200, D3300, D3400, D5000, D5100, D5200, D5300, D5500, and D5600 cameras—lens may be used with manual focus only. Be sure to check your camera’s lens-compatibility information before selecting a new lens
Be sure your camera model is not listed as being incompatible before you buy.
With that in mind, here are a couple of great kits at a couple of different price ranges for you to consider.
Bigger, more professional Nikon Body:
These kits are everywhere and this is a KILLER deal on this Nikon. I shoot Nikon so I might be a little biased, but I LOVE my camera. This camera kit will do everything you need for some time.
If you prefer Canon, here is a great deal on a simiar kit.. This one comes with very similar lenses.
For a slightly less professional body, but still a really nice DSLR kit here are two options:
If you are looking for a more point and shoot, something easy to use that doesn’t require changing lenses, here are two great options. Both of these cameras are incredibly highly rated, will take very nice pictures and are wi-fi enabled for instant sharing:
Looking for something that you can slip in your purse, is ultra compact and under $200? These two should fit the bill.
Canon Powershot – This is the camera I bought for my son when he was just 8 years old. It is tiny, comes in a bunch of fun colors so you can customize it for your gift recipient, and takes nice pictures. He loves being able to slip it in his pocket and take it places with him.
$98 buys you this little Sony number , another great camera for the beginner.
The more compact, “fit in my purse” camera that I shoot with is this one. I talked about it a little bit here and even more here. I love it and take it everywhere with me. Many of the travel pictures you see are shot with this camera. It has most of the functionality of my big camera, the main difference being a slight delay.
I hope that this guide helps you to decide which kind of camera you want to purchase. I am a fierce believer in capturing memories, and not just on my phone! 😉 All of these cameras will bring you years of great picture taking. Like with anything, the more you practice with this new equipment the better your pictures will be.