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How to Choose Your First DSLR or Mirrorless Camera

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Choosing your first DSLR or Mirrorless camera can be tricky. You fall in love with photography when you first hold a camera in your hands. It’s a unique moment and experience that ignites the desire in you to immediately start capturing the world around you.

There’s that feeling when you place your eye on the viewfinder, and point your camera on a subject and press the shutter button. You capture a moment that will stay forever untouched in time.

How do you know which camera is the right one for you? Have you ever used a camera with interchangeable lenses? Start with baby steps. This article will guide you and show you the process.

Choosing a Brand Name

Among a few of the best camera brands in the world are the Nikon, Canon, Sony and Fujifilm. These four brands have the reputation of being the best in the field providing excellent image quality, ease-of-use, customer support, strong warranties and most of all system expansion.

You never know if the camera you buy now will become a professional tool in the future. Many photographers start small, taking photos as amateurs and later on they make it a profession. So, if you choose one of these brands, will allow you to expand and advance your photography in the years to come.

On the other hand, you should avoid buying cameras from brands that limits you. These limits could be small sensors with less image quality and overall performance, slow autofocus, poor lens selection and expensive service.

Select a Camera

When it comes to selecting a new camera, make sure to choose a model with the latest technologies and features. Good entry level cameras in 2018/2019 under $1000 are:

  • Sony a6000
  • Sony a6400
  • Canon M50
  • Fujifilm X-T100
  • Fujifilm XT20
  • Nikon D3500
  • Nikon D5600

If your budget is between $1000 – $1500 you have many options available. Some of the best are:

  • Sony a6500
  • Sony a7II
  • Fujifilm XT2
  • Nikon D7500
  • Canon 80D
  • Canon 6D Mark II

For those who can spend more than $1500 we recommend the following models:

  • Sony a7III
  • Sony a7RIII
  • Fujifilm XT3
  • Fujifilm XH1
  • Canon EOS R
  • Nikon Z6
  • Nikon Z7


Each camera model has its own unique specifications. The most common cameras with interchangeable lenses have APS-C or Full Frame sensors. These image sensors have better dynamic range, image quality in low light and can create smooth background blur in portraits.

Full Frame cameras are more expensive than APS-C. They provide better image quality and higher resolution. It is as simple as this. The more money you spend on a camera, the more features and overall performance you will get. However, that doesn’t mean that APS-C sensors are not good enough.

The last couple of years, APS-C image sensors have evolved. With the proper lens, they produce excellent image quality and sharpness and they’re more budget friendly. Furthermore, they are really good for wildlife, macro and sports photography.

Select the Right Lens

Almost all cameras come with a kit lens. The kit lens is a standard zoom lens each brand gives as a bundle with a new camera. It is wise to buy the camera with the kit lens if you are just starting out in photography. As a beginner you will want to learn the basics first:

  • With the kit lens, you learn the differences between wide-angle, middle-zoom and telephoto focal range.
  • You need to get comfortable with setting the aperture and thereby controlling the depth-of-filed and the amount of light you allow into the sensor each time you change it.
  • It makes you understand how to focus manually, how to zoom and how to frame your subject.

When you take full control of the kit lens and you understand how to use it, you will be in a position to make a better choice when you select your next lens.

Lenses are expensive but to be honest, the more you spend on a lens the better the results. In some cases, you can find cheaper lenses with good quality from third party manufactures like Sigma, Tamron or Rokinon.

There are two kind of lenses:

  • Zoom Lenses
  • Prime Lenses

Zoom lenses are generally more expensive than prime lenses. They are great for professional work, landscape photography, wildlife, action, and everyday use.

Prime lenses, on the other hand, are great for portraits, street photography, and travel. They are sharper and can create amazing bokeh images.

Don’t spend money on lenses you will never use. Ask recommendations from other professional photographers, read reviews online and decide which one is the best that fit your needs.

Buy Essential Accessories

When you purchase a camera, you should expect to spend a few extra bucks in accessories and camera gear. That might cost you a minimum of $100. Some of those accessories are:

  • Tripod
  • Second Battery
  • Charger (sometimes it’s not included in the box)
  • Cleaning Solution Kit
  • Air Blower
  • SD Cards
  • Camera Bag

If you want to buy a tripod, invest in a good one from the beginning. It is an essential tool for your photography. You can use it to create long exposure shots and take photos at night.

Also, having a second battery with you is mandatory. Some cameras don’t have high capacity batteries and they don’t last a whole day. Make sure you always have a spare battery with you.

Learn the Basics

When you get your first camera, you should start learning the camera basics and how to use it. Read the manual that comes with it, set the dial to AUTO and start taking photos. Use this guide when you are ready to learn more about setting exposure manually.

A great way to learn composition and the basic settings of your camera is to read articles online, visit the manufacture’s website or watch videos on YouTube.

Additionally, another great way to learn is through online courses or through e-books. Many professional photographers teach photography and have classes in reputable e-learning platforms.

Avoid learning from people who only review camera products. They usually don’t have the experience of a professional photographer.

The best way to learn photography without paying a penny, is to study other photographers. For instance, websites like, provide high-quality images. They also display the EXIF data of the images. EXIF data is information about the camera settings used to take each photo! You can learn a lot from just studying the EXIF data, from professional photographers.


Selecting a new interchangeable camera is relatively easy, but it worth considering your options before you choose the DSLR or mirrorless camera to go for. First pick a brand, then choose a camera model based on your budget and finally buy camera gear.

It takes time to learn how to take good photos. Therefore, in the beginning everything will seem complicated. There are lots to be learned including camera settings, composition, how to use natural light and many more.

Don’t worry though. What matters most is to get out and take as many photos as possible. Practice is the key to success. The more you practice, the more you will learn how to do it right.

In any case, don’t forget that a camera is just a tool. Be creative, use your imagination, and use the camera to create the final result.

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1 thought on “How to Choose Your First DSLR or Mirrorless Camera”

  1. Wow, I came across Photography Raw and was hoping to get some tips, ideas and inspiration to help me improve my basic understanding of photography.
    So, I thought I would start with a look at choosing a camera – even though I already have one.
    I was somewhat surprised that my camera Panasonic Lumix manufacturer was not even mentioned.
    Wow again! Is Panasonic Lumix (in my case the DMC-80) such a poor choice?


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