7 things to consider when buying your first camera

Have you decided to upgrade your smartphone camera to a proper camera? Congratulations and welcome to the start of your journey as a photographer!

Choosing your first camera is exciting, and you will naturally have a lot of emotions surrounding you. However, it can all get overwhelming, especially with so many choices available these days.

Choosing your first suitable camera should be a long-term investment, so it’s worth stopping for a moment and thinking about which specifics will serve you best. Below are seven of the most important aspects you need to keep in mind.

1. Price

photo of a camera next to pictures on a table

You probably don’t need us to tell you that modern camera equipment is quite expensive. Some camera bodies cost thousands of dollars, and lenses can sometimes leave such a deep hole in your pocket.

If you are a beginner photographer, your budget will play an important role in deciding which camera you buy. The good news is that many entry-level models are surprisingly affordable, and you can find plenty of great deals online.

Before buying a camera, decide on your budget and limit your search to that range. You’ll probably upgrade later, so it’s okay if you can’t afford what your favorite creators have yet.


To save more money (and do a good deed for the environment), you should consider buying a used camera. There are plenty of used photography websites out there, and the equipment performs just as well as their brand new counterparts.

2. Size

Photo of a photographer standing in a train station

It’s easy to think that having a bigger camera will make you look more professional on the go. This may be true to some extent, but larger equipment has several disadvantages.

Owning a larger camera makes it cumbersome to carry around compared to a smaller one, which might discourage you from using it. Plus, you risk attracting unwanted attention if you’re in a sketchier part of town.

When buying your first camera, try to aim for the smallest one that fits your needs and budget. The goal, in the beginning, is to get into the habit of taking pictures regularly, and having something smaller will increase your chances of doing so.

3. Image quality

Presumably, the main reason you upgrade from your smartphone is because you want to take better pictures. Image quality from a camera is one of the first things every photographer looks for when upgrading their equipment, whether amateur or professional.

A common misconception is that more megapixels equals better image quality. That’s not entirely true, however. Several factors will impact the quality of your photos, including dynamic range and contrast.

Each brand of camera will produce different results, so it’s worth looking at sample photos taken with the cameras you’re considering getting. You should look for in-camera settings that allow you to adjust accordingly and find a happy medium.

Related: Check Out These Amazing Photography YouTube Channels for Tips and Tutorials

4. Lenses

Photo of a camera lens in a person's hand

You will usually receive the body and a lens as a kit when you purchase a camera. This lens often ranges between 18mm and 55mm, but the exact numbers depend on the brand you’re using.

Although the kit lens is enough to get you around at first, you may find that you’ve maxed out everything you could have learned in a short time. Alternatively, you may want to take a more specific type of photo, which only a specialized lens can help you do.

In addition to your kit lens, it’s worth buying a main lens on the side to start with. It will force you to think more creatively, and the images are often sharper too.

Additional lenses are available at several price points, but you can get a few affordable ones that are great all-rounders. Examples of this include the 50mm and 35mm.

Related: What’s the best focal length for your prime prime lens?

5. Usability

It’s easy to think that buying the most expensive camera right now is a fast track to becoming a fantastic photographer. This, however, is not the case. Advanced cameras are usually chosen by seasoned creators for a reason: they have gained enough experience on their way up to use them effectively.

When you’re just starting out as a photographer, usability is one of the most critical factors to consider. If your gear is too complicated to use, you’ll probably give up and let it gather dust on your shelf.

The most user-friendly cameras tend to be entry-level DSLRs, and you should stick with one of these for at least two years so you can master all the bells and whistles. Once you’ve learned everything, you can move on to something a little more sophisticated.

6. Mirrorless or DSLR?

Photo of Nikon camera body and lenses

As you spend more time in the photography community, you will frequently hear two terms used: mirrorless and DSLR. These refer to different types of cameras, and both are quite different from each other.

Mirrorless and DSLR cameras process images differently when you take them, which can affect the outcome of your photos. Mirrorless cameras do not have a mirror, unlike DSLRs.

The two cameras also differ in terms of available lenses, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. When in doubt, go with a DSLR to avoid getting too confused; you can upgrade to a mirrorless camera at a later date.

7. Image stabilization

Photographers often take countless blurry photos in their early days. And even if you become more advanced, it’s not something that will completely go away.

Luckily, there are several ways you can deal with blurry photos. One is to turn on your camera’s image stabilization. Enabling it gives you a bit more freedom than you would otherwise have, and you don’t have to worry as much about fixing errors in post-production.

Not all cameras have image stabilization, so you’ll have to do some extra research and find out if the one you want does.

Buying your first camera is a long-term investment

Buying your first camera is something you should take a long time to get right. Ideally, you’ll use it to take photos for at least the first few years of your photographic journey; starting with an entry-level device will make it much easier to use more complex equipment later on.

When buying your first camera, the only right answer is the one that best suits your needs. Look beyond image quality alone to ensure you get the best fit possible.

Photo of Nikon camera body and lenses
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