Thinking of getting a camera?
Note: This is what you’d call a “living article” in that its content will be regularly updated as new cameras become available. The following recommendations are made at time of writing (June 2021).
I’m often asked by those looking to get into photography about the most suitable camera for them. We are very lucky in that there is a huge range of cameras from which to choose, with a multitude of brands and models available. At the end of the day though, the best camera is the one that best suits the kind of photography you do and won’t break your bank balance.
So, here are my recommendations if you’re starting out in digital photography and are thinking of investing in a good camera:
Cheapest, bang-for-your-buck interchangeable lens camera for beginners. Your budget is under AUD$1000
My recommendation: Canon EOS M50. This is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera that’s compact in size and yet packs a lot of features and functions into a small body.
If you are looking for a smaller, more portable camera, then look at the Canon EOS M200.
These are great cameras to use when learning photography but you may outgrow them after a year or two. So, if you are thinking of getting something that has more longevity, keep reading below…
Just starting out / You’re not sure yet what you’ll like shooting / You have a budget of around AUD$1000-$1500
You will want a camera that has an easy, accessible interface so that you can start to make some creative decisions in your shooting once you move out of shooting in “Automatic” mode. Let’s face it, “Automatic” will only get you so far and after a while, you will be hankering to take greater control of your camera.
Fujifilm X-S10 (mirrorless interchangeable lens camera), which has a whole heap of solid features packed into it and comes with an easy to use interface. You can purchase this with the “kit” lens, or buy a selection of lenses that suit the kind of photography you want to to.
As a second option, try the Sony Alpha A6400 (mirrorless interchangeable lens camera), which packs a heap of features into its compact size, and has an excellent autofocus system. This is one for enthusiasts who like shooting action, wildlife and moving subjects too! The Sony Alpha A6100 is slightly cheaper, but lacking some features found in the A6400.
You’re just starting out but want a camera that will grow with your photography and last you a few years. Your budget is edging towards $2000+.
If you can see yourself pursuing photography in the long term and are looking for a camera that will last you quite a few years and that has an interface that allows more intuitive use (ie. using buttons and dials instead of menus), then have a look at these recommendations:
Canon RP: A very robust “enthusiast level” full frame mirrorless camera that gives you many features found in professional-level cameras, while also being “user-friendly” enough for hobbyists and beginners. While it doesn’t feature a fast continuous shooting mode (only up to 5 frames per second – so it’s not the camera you want for sports or bird photography), it is pretty top notch everywhere else.
If your budget extends further, try the Canon EOS R, which features a tidier interface and a few additional features.
Fujifilm X-T4: A top of the range mirrorless camera that provides great stills capture, 4K video and built in image stabilisation to help you get sharp images. It has a fast frame rate capture which makes it handy when photographing moving subjects, and its autofocus speed is very very good. It is also very compact in size, which makes it lighter and more portable than most cameras of its type.
What about other cameras? What if I can afford more?
If photography budget edges past the $3000+ mark, then the world is your oyster. There are many options available at this price point, including the following:
Nikon Z6II and Nikon Z7II: superb image quality, image capture, detail, frame rate (great for action and wildlife). Lenses can be expensive though.
Canon EOS R5 and R6: Very similar in performance, though the R5 is the superior model, with a price point to match. The R6 has a lower megapixel count but very high frame rate capture – great for birds, sports and wildlife.
Sony A74R: A superb camera for those chasing higher megapixels (64MP) and performance. The menu system can be confusing for beginners. It’s truly a camera for the discerning enthusiast or professional.
What about other brands like Olympus and Panasonic?
Olympus and Panasonic make terrific cameras with great imaging capabilities, but in my opinion, their more complex interface and customisable menus make them a little bit challenging for beginner photographers to use. They’re probably more suited to experienced photographers looking for a compact camera to use. If you find that having too many options can confuse you, then stick with the brands mentioned above. However, if you are tech-savvy and love having lots of options and customisable features on your camera, then you might like to look at Olympus or Panasonic.