As part of my photography course, I am often asked for advice on a good beginner DSLR camera so I thought the easiest would be to post some advice on the blog so I can refer people to it.

If you are on a low budget, your best option is to find a refurbished Canon 600D, you can find those on eBay, of course always check the seller’s rating and feedback before you buy. I usually prefer to buy from independent camera shops than individuals.

The lens that comes as part of a camera + lens bundle (i.e. the kit lens) are usually not very good quality. My advice therefore is to buy the “body only” version of the camera and then buy a good lens separately based on your needs. It is the lens, more than the body, which affects the quality of the final image.

If you are into people and/or street photography (rather than wildlife/landscape) then the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 Mk II is a great little starter lens for you. It is light, great value for money, and it is a “fast” lens which means the aperture can open quite wide, letting more light into the camera. This gives you more scope to shoot indoors in low light situations. You just need to be aware that with this lens you cannot zoom in or out, you need to move closer or further away from your subject instead (don’t worry you quickly get used to it).

Canon 50mm f1.8

What starter DSLR Camera?

If your budget allows it, you can opt for a higher spec camera of course, for example the Canon 700D, Canon 7D or Nikon D7000. I tend to ignore the Megapixels figure, nowadays most DSLRs allow you to create pictures which you can blow poster size, and in fact the more pixels you get the more space each file is going to clog up on your hard drive so in my view anything above 12 Megapixels is perfectly adequate, no need to go overboard.

Canon 700D body

Another thing you may want to take into account is the Video function (not all DSLR have it). Because the image is captured through a nice quality lens, you can use a shallow depth of field (subject in focus and background blurred), the video has a wonderful quality.