DSLR Purchase Guide

Photography Camera and Equipment Recommendations

The plain truth when it comes to camera equipment…  You Always get what you pay for.  This is one reason I recommend buying good quality used equipment to get the best equipment your budget will allow.  Look for the best quality camera gear for your budget.

This is a guide for those who want to get equipment better suited for the way most moms and small business owners shoot with the lighting situations they run into.  I’ve learned after years of teaching classes that most beginning photography enthusiasts buy the wrong equipment for what they really want to capture in their lives.  This guide is to help you with your camera equipment purchases.  It works if you are buying a DSLR camera for the first time or looking to know what is the best gear to invest in next.


I recommend you have the best camera body you can afford, a 50mm lens and a speed light flash that can be adjusted to bounce the light.  At the bottom will be some links to  wish lists on B&H Photo & Amazon to purchase the recommended gear.  The lists are divided depending on your budget.  My camera and equipment are Nikon, but Canon is great too.  There are other brands available as well, but you’ll get more variety of equipment available when you stick with Nikon or Canon.

1.     There are camera bodies for all budgets.  There are enthusiast models sold in major retail stores {from WalMart to Wolf Camera to Amazon} and enthusiast to pro models sold in specialty shops {local camera shop, Amazon & B&H Photo Video}.   I love going to a specialty shop for purchases.  One of the main differences is the knowledge of the staff and the model numbers available.  The most basic model available from both kinds of store types will have lower functionality.   The major retailers catering only to enthusiasts generally sell most of their gear in kits.  These kits generally do not have the best lens for your life once you learn how to use your equipment.

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2.   Camera lenses come in all different qualities with different ‘views’ and price points.  The lens referred to as a Nifty 50 is what I recommend for all enthusiasts first lens purchases.  A Nifty 50 is a 50mm lens which most camera models have available with a 1.4 or 1.8 maximum aperture opening.  This is the lens type sold with most cameras {until the last 10 years} since the current type of cameras with changeable lenses were first introduced around 1950.  This lens provides a view most like what your natural eye sees so it can also be referred to as a normal lens.  It is a wide enough view to be able to take most group shots and vacation images while narrow enough to get a fantastic portrait.  This is a big switch for those accustomed to using a zoom lens.  You need to move your feet to get closer or further from your subject instead of using the lens!  I think this lens is well worth a little extra effort to get consistently great images.

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3.    Flash, oh flash.  The last item I recommend is what is called a speed light or bounce flash.  This is a flash that mounts onto your camera where the pop up flash is located.  It is not recommend to use the cameras pop up flash for good images.   The built in flash is in a location on the camera that gives off unflattering lighting and causes red eye.  There are some name brand and off brand speed light {flashes} like Yongnuo or Bower that will do a great job of helping you create great looking images in low light situations.   It is important to pick a flash that can be turned in most directions with full swivel and up down adjustments and NOT one that is fixed forward or will only move up and down in the forward position.  Currently I use the Yongnuo YN560-II for my wedding and portrait business photography.  It is very reasonable in cost and a great workhorse.  It is the one less expensive piece of photography equipment that I have found which performs as well as the name brand equipment.

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A note on camera bundles or kits.  While they can save you a small amount of money these kits are often not the equipment that would best suit most beginning photographers, especially moms of young kids, bloggers and small creative business owners who all like to take images indoors where the light isn’t bright.  Lenses that come in kits do not have a maximum aperture opening suitable for low light.  One of the biggest differences is the ability to get the background blurry for pretty portraits and artistic shots.  Kit lenses generally cannot get this sought after look.

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I recommend you have the best camera body you can afford, a 50mm lens and a speed light flash that can be adjusted to bounce the light.  Below are some links to wish lists on B&H Photo and Amazon to purchase the recommended gear.   The wish lists are given with with varying budgets in mind.

Don’t forget about used, especially when it comes to camera bodies.   In August 2013 the going rate for a used Nikon D200 with a low shutter count in good condition was $400.  It’s a great camera.

LINKS TO B&H Photo WISH LISTS – Each list includes camera body, 50mm lens, speedlite flash, memory card, extra battery, UV filter, pretty camera strap and a basic camera bag.

Nikon $2000 budget

Nikon with a budget of around $1000
Canon with a budget of around $1000
Nikon with a budget of around $2000
Canon with a budget of around $2400

Win a seat in our online Beginner Photography Class!!! | Everyday Creative - […] Check out our advice on finding your perfect photography setup for you Here. […]April 20, 2014 – 12:32 pm

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