Camera for beginners
This article is written for the photographer who wants to buy his or her first camera with interchangeable lenses, but does not know where to start with the enormous selection of starter cameras. The amateur photographer with a modest budget who is looking for a modern, versatile budget camera is also well served by this article. From the 100 cameras that we have reviewed, we have selected the best budget cameras on the basis of image quality, ease of use, dimensions, weight or price for price-conscious amateurs and photographers who have only recently discovered photography as a hobby.
DO YOU EVEN NEED A SYSTEM CAMERA?
It might sound strange that a site that specializes in cameras with interchangeable lenses starts with recommending buying a camera with a fixed lens. Even so, it might not be such a strange idea for you. Not only for practical considerations, but also from a quality perspective. Until recently, you needed an SLR camera or a mirrorless system camera with a big sensor and interchangeable lenses to take pictures that are more beautiful and have better image quality than those from smartphones. Today, there are cameras with a 1-inch sensor or an even bigger sensor on the market that offer a great deal of ease of use and high image quality, which is in fact so high that you can take pictures that are so beautiful that you can enlarge them without fear.
Examples of recent universal cameras with a fixed lens:
• Panasonic Lumix FZ2000: Bridge camera (looks like an SLR camera, but the lens cannot be changed) with an enormous zoom range (from wide angle to telephoto). No fuss with changing the lens, very good build-in image stabilization and professional video quality. Not very compact or very inexpensive. If you are satisfied with a slightly smaller telephoto lens, then the Panasonic FZ1000 (see our Panasonic FZ1000 review) is a good bit less expensive. If this kind of camera appeals to you, but you want the least expensive version possible, then consider a Panasonic FZ200.
• Panasonic LX 15. Very compact camera with a bright lens with a small zoom range in comparison with the FZ2000, but a larger sensor, so that you can photograph better with it in low light. This is the successor to the extremely popular Panasonic LX100 (see our Panasonic LX100 review). The Sony RX 100 IV (not yet reviewed by us) is also a popular camera in this segment.
PHOTOGRAPHING WITHOUT A VIEWFINDEr
How are you photographing now? Do you hold the camera at arm’s length and look at the screen on the back of the camera? Or do you prefer to hold the camera to your eye and look through the viewfinder?
Some photographers like using the screen on the back of the camera, instead of a viewfinder. That might be because you are accustomed to photographing with a smartphone. Then choose a camera without a viewfinder (see our reviews of the Nikon V3 or Nikon J5), or even better, a camera with an electronic viewfinder (Panasonic GM5, Panasonic GX80). An SLR also has a screen on the back of the camera, but that is actually intended for reviewing photos that you have made. A camera with a tilting and rotating screen is much more practical than a camera with a screen that can only tilt or is completely fixed. In this price class, you will not find many cameras on which the screen can both tilt and turn, but you should be able to find one with a screen that tilts.
Special features, LIKE WI-FI FOR SOCIAL MEDIa
To be able to share photos directly to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you need a Wi-Fi connection between your camera and your smartphone. All modern cameras are equipped with a Wi-Fi, NFC or Bluetooth connection with which that is possible. Only with inexpensive offers on cameras that are already a bit older, you have to make sure that you can make a wireless connection between your camera and smartphone.
TAKE GROWTH INTO ACCOUNT
If you buy a system camera on which you can change lenses, then you immediately limit the choice of lenses. Only lenses of the same brand fit on a camera. Sigma and Tamron make multiple versions of their lenses, which can be fitted with a brand-compatible mount. Once you have purchased multiple lenses, you will not soon buy a camera of another brand, because all your lenses immediately become unusable.
It is not without reason that you choose a camera with interchangeable lenses. Also take into account when purchasing your camera the number of lenses that fit on your camera that you have to choose from. Canon sells inexpensive mirrorless system cameras (EOS M series) on which only Canon lenses with a special M mount fit. If you want to switch later to a more expensive Canon SLR camera, then all your Canon EOS M lenses become useless and you have to replace all your lenses.
The same applies for less expensive Canon SLR cameras with an APS-C sensor (1300D, 750D) and an EF-S lens. If you ever switch to a more expensive Canon SLR camera, then all the EF-S lenses that you have will not fit on the new camera that you bought.
DO YOU THINK BUDGET CAMERAS ARE NOT ROBUST OR LUXURIOUS ENOUGH?
Budget cameras are not extra well-sealed against dust and splashwater, and they are usually less solidly built than more expensive cameras. If you do not do anything crazy with a camera, that is not a problem for the budget cameras either. Those who photograph under extreme conditions, or who want to have more advanced user options, are probably better off with a more expensive camera.
Read more in our next article, with the best reviewed amateur cameras with a body-only shop price between 500 and 1,000 euros.
If you want to make the switch from a compact camera or smartphone to an affordable, good, small camera with interchangeable lenses, then this table is a good place to start.