So you want to get into photography, I know what you’re thinking…great I’ve got to spend $1000s to even get started, well the good news is NO YOU DON’T. I mean you could, but why? Getting into a DSLR camera is easier and less expensive than you think especially with all the “starter packs” out there.
Now there are a fair amount of DSLR cameras available to you, but the big two are Nikon and Canon (obviously) however, there are a plethora of other manufacturers out there with advantages and disadvantages depending on what you want from a camera. I’m going to go over the larger points here and link to the various models so you can make an informed decision on what you want to buy.
So the question is where to start and I’m sure all of you start in the same place…$$$$ price. Costs can vary depending on what you buy and where you buy it. A camera body can be purchased alone without a lens, or a “starter kit” can be purchased with a camera body with a lens usually a basic 18-55mm lens (a good starter multi-purpose lens) and sometimes a tripod or lens filter things like that.
A great place to start is the Nikon D3400, it can be had between $400 for just a body to $499 for body and lens, all the way up to $600-$650 for a kit with lens, tripod, flashes, and carrying bag (as seen on Amazon.com) This is a great all around starter camera with 24.2 MP picture quality and easy to use menu. Any Nikon AF-S lens will fit the camera as they will any in the Nikon DSLR lineup. Your best bet is to buy the camera and basic lens together to save some money up from because lenses can get pretty expensive pretty fast, and let’s face it that’s not what you want right away. The more expensive option for a starter from Nikon is the D5600, ranging from $690 body only to $896 for body and basic lens all the up to $975 for a similar kit offered with the D3400. This is a more expensive option, but it does come with some additional features such as Wi-Fi capability with Bluetooth where the 3400 only has the Bluetooth, as well as a touch screen on the 5600, but for the money I think the 3400 is a better place to start with Nikon, but if you don’t want all the fancy Bluetooth, touch screens etc. the D3300 is a great value for an entry-level DSLR. For around $450 body and lens you still get a 24.2 MP camera with the same Nikon functions as the other without the lofty price. Shop the Nikon lineup and see which is right for your needs.
Canon is the other major player in the DSLR market. They also have two that stand out as great starters, the EOS Rebel T5 and T6 out of the gate at between $350-$390 (body only) and $320-$450 (body and basic lens) respectively. One of the down sides to the Canons listed here is they are 18MP cameras as opposed to the 24.2MP offered by Nikon (see chart for MP vs. printed picture size quality below), but you are saving some greenbacks with the Canon so depending on what you want to do the Canon may be a better option. The Canon also tends to be a more difficult camera to learn, however, once you get it down most professional photographers prefer the Canon platform so you may be a step ahead if you choose to upgrade and advance in the hobby or turn pro or semi-pro.
While researching the entry DLSR field I did stumble on an “odd man out”, the Pentax K-S2. This is a mid-price point entry level DSLR with a tag of around $530 body only and $596 with a lens, the same size 18-55mm as offered by both Nikon and Canon. The Pentax boasts a not too shabby 20MP camera as well as the ability to shoot video at 1080p HD (the same as Nikon and Canon), and Wi-Fi built into the camera. The back display is a 3” LCD screen that swivels out for a variety of viewing angles for all situations. The Pentax also says the camera is fully weatherized with cold and dust.