Have you been taking photos with your phone or your point-and-shoot camera for a while and are feeling ready to upgrade and purchase a DSLR? There are so many options, it is no wonder why you might not know where to start.
Here are a few pieces of information that might help you get started.
1. Canon or Nikon?
This is entirely up to you, both brands are great. It really is a question of personal preference. The best is to go to the store and see how they feel in your hands when you hold them. Very recently, I helped my sister purchase her first DSLR. I showed her all her options and it was very clear that she was able to make up her own mind based on her own preferences.
2. Crop sensor versus full frame cameras
DSLRs fall into two categories: crop sensor cameras and full frame cameras. The difference is the size of the sensor and thus, the price! For the most part, professional photographers use full frame cameras (the ones with the bigger sensors).
With that in mind, most of the photographers I know also started with a crop sensor and learned how to shoot in manual mode with a crop sensor. Crop sensors are wonderful cameras and the perfect equipment to get started with because they are not too intimidating and they are also affordable. I started with a crop sensor.
3. Crop sensor options
If Canon is your brand, look at the Rebel series. The series currently goes from T1i to T6i. There is also the Rebel SL1 which is the smallest DSLR currently available.
If you would rather get a Nikon, you can check out this page on their website. This will show you a couple of crop sensor options such as the D3000 and D500 series.
4. A note about the kit lens
When you buy a DSLR, it usually comes with a lens, which is called a kit lens. Unfortunately, it is usually not a very good lens and if you start investigating, you will find out that you won't really be able to use it if you want to truly produce beautiful images.
The best thing to do is to only purchase the camera body. You might think, wait a minute, for a little bit more money, I also get a lens. Although this might seem great at first, believe me, your money is better spent on another lens.
5. What lens should I buy then?
The best lens you can get for very little money is a 50mm f1.8. Both Canon and Nikon make one.
Be careful though, I recently found out that with Nikon, the cheapest version of this lens is not entirely compatible with some of the Nikons from the D3000 and D5000 series (the auto focus does not work with some of these cameras). If you want to get a Nikon, I would recommend you make sure your camera body is fully compatible with a 50mm f1.8. Just make a trip to your local photography store, I am sure they will be able to help you.
5. Buying new versus used
Buying used equipment is a phenomenal option. When I started, I bought a used camera body (Canon Rebel T3i) as well as a used 50mm f1.8. Overall, I spent just a few hundred dollars. This is the only equipment I used for a year before I decide to upgrade to a full frame camera body.
It is really worth checking at your local photo store if they sell used equipment. That way, you can upgrade sooner if you feel like it.
Currently, my camera is a Canon 6D (full frame).
I have two lenses I use almost everyday, a Sigma 35 f1.4 and a 50mm f1.4 (I had to replace my 50mm f1.8 after it accidentally fell so I upgraded to a faster version; it was secondhand as well).
Please don't hesitate to leave a comment below!