The Best Cameras and Gear for Beginner Photographers

Finding the right camera can be hard for a photographer of any level. We’ve gathered some of our picks that have features, settings, and lenses best suited for beginners. We’ve also included recommendations for helpful vlogging gear and a style of camera bag we love.

DSLR: Nikon D3400

Nikon D3400

If you know you want to step up to a DSLR camera, we recommend the Nikon D3400. With manual controls and a mode that teaches beginners how to shoot, it allows anyone who’s trying out photography for the first time to easily jump in. Compared to similar entry-level DSLRs we tested, the D3400 offers the best and most affordable package of features including impressive image quality, long-lasting battery life, Bluetooth connectivity, and controls that are easy to use. When shooting in low light settings, its improved sensors help to produce cleaner images. It also captures a broader range of darks and lights, has a video mode, and still-image burst mode that captures subjects in action at five frames per second. The D3400 comes with a great kit lens and overall captures better photos than DSLR cameras that cost much more.

Mirrorless camera: Fujifilm X-A5

Fujifilm X-A5

The Fujifilm X-A5 is the best mirrorless camera for beginners because it produces sharp photos, has intuitive menus and controls, and its 15–45mm electronic zoom lens is good for everyday shooting. Mirrorless cameras like this pick capture images of comparable quality to an entry-level DSLR, but without the bulk. In addition to offering all-day battery life, the X-A5 is lightweight and portable. We like its on-screen guidance and that the contrast- and phase-detection points within its hybrid autofocus system cover more area of a frame than some DSLRs. The X-A5’s touchscreen flips 180 degrees—a convenience for taking selfies which can be shared to your smartphone over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The X-A5 also has a 24-megapixel sensor that lends impressive detail to its images.

Point-and-shoot: Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II

Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II

A point-and-shoot camera may be a better upgrade for you if the features on your smartphone aren’t cutting it but you’re not yet ready for all the features of a professional camera. Like most point-and-shoot cameras, our budget pick for beginners, the Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II, has a touchscreen which allows you to change settings and zoom much like you would on a smartphone. Its interface is easy to navigate and the quality of the stils it produces are in line with our top pick’s, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX10. The G9 X Mark II has a slim design so it’s small enough to slip into a pocket, plus it comes with a good sensor and 3x zoom lens. Its built-in flash has a smaller range than our other picks and it lacks a viewfinder, 4K video, and extended battery life. However, its features come at a reasonable price, it’s easy to use, and great for taking portraits and telephoto shots.

Vlogging gear: Joby GorillaPod 1K Kit

Joby GorillaPod 1K Kit

If you’re brand new to vlogging, we recommend starting out with your smartphone. But that doesn’t mean you should begin the journey without essential gear. Our top tripod pick for first-time vloggers, the Joby GorillaPod 1K Kit, is highly flexible, portable, and can hold the heaviest smartphones even though it’s lightweight. It’s also strong enough to support some cameras—including the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV, our pick for vloggers who record outdoors and on the go. The 1K has long legs that can wrap around trees or poles and it’ll keep your camera sturdy while you capture shots. If you need a simple rotating stand, go with the Square Jellyfish Metal Spring Tripod Mount instead.

Camera bag: Peak Design Everyday Backpack

Peak Design Everyday Backpack

The Peak Design Everyday Backpack is versatile, spacious, and fits well on people of all sizes. We like that the Everyday Backpack has more than enough pockets, dividers, and closures for keeping gear secured and that its straps are adjustable and sturdy. It has a flexible internal organization system that’s built to effectively protect your camera and lenses while leaving room for extra accessories. Its fold-top compartment seals with a magnetic latch, which makes accessing gear easy. Plus, its sides zip out into two-layer wings that can lie flat when you unpack or create room for a large lens. The Everyday Backpack is comfortable to wear for hours on end and is great traveling. For a smaller bag with similar useful features, consider the Peak Design Everyday Messenger.   

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