Camera Buyer's Guide


Lesson Info

Recommended Cameras

So I'm gonna go through my recommendations and what we're not gonna have here is the best camera in the world is... No, it's not that way. It's the best camera for you, the camera that fits your needs. And so I've broken the cameras up into different categories and let's just remind everyone what my first recommendation was was our can't go wrong cameras, and these are just good general cameras that I think a lot of people are gonna find very useful for a wide variety of goods, and to be honest with you, these are the safe, boring choices, that people who just wanna make a safe purchase in photography. The Canon's and Nikon's are the safe way to go; very good quality, very feature rich. So I have I think about 10 different categories. The first one here is what I call the unofficial family photographer. You have been somehow elected in the family because you're the one with the camera, to take pictures of mom, dad, the kids, and everybody else at the family gatherings. And so, here I'm...

thinking probably budget minded, you would prefer a small size camera and something that's easy to use, so almost anyone can pick it up and use the camera. So one of the best camera's in this category is the Canon Rebel T7i. This was one of the can't go wrong cameras. Very good, all around camera, this has been one of the most popular cameras available. If you think about the Rebel, the Rebel name's been around for about 30 years now. It's been one of the most popularized cameras ever made. Another very good choice is the Fuji X-T20. This is a very small camera and so those of you who are wanting something smaller in size, you do get the same image quality on the Fuji as you do the Canon, it's using the same size sensor, and it has a lot of traditional controls on it so I think that's gonna be something that a lot of people like. The Nikon D3400 is probably the easiest of these cameras to use. It's very traditional in its style, the controls are set up in a very easy manner, it's part of a very common system. Now any one of these might be the best camera for you and there might be a camera that's not on this list that is even better for you even though you are the unofficial family photographer, but hey, this is my free class, and these are my three picks for you. And so those are the ones that I think would all make a really good choice in that category. A similar category but slightly different is what I'm calling super tight budget. Somebody who wants to get into photography but just doesn't have much money to spend, and is really looking at all the entry level products out there. What is the best entry level product that's going to give'em the best value for the least amount of money. Well once again the winner of the last selection, the Nikon D3400, I think fits into this category as well. Canon has a number of entry level cameras and the SL-2 is a very small camera from them that offers a pretty good collection of features, and it's very similar to the Rebel T7i that I talked about in the previous recommendation. But they do make one other camera that's even less money. They've stripped off a few more features so that they could lower the price even more, and that is the Rebel T6 or 1300D depending on what region in the world you're in. This one's going to be pretty easy to work with in manual control if you want. It's part of a very large system so if you wanna buy a $20,000 lens for your $300 camera, you can do that. But it's just the least expensive and it gets you a decent quality camera that's got reasonable controls out there, and you can get into a T6 camera with the lens currently for about $450, and that's a darn good deal for somebody who's on a really tight budget, 'cause you can take really good quality photos with that. Here's a category that I was in at one time and that is the aspiring student. This is somebody who's getting into photography, they don't know how far they're gonna go, but they have high aspirations and they want a big growth ceiling - they wanna have a lot of room to grow into things. And so in this case I think a good choice might be the Nikon D5600. Now compared to the previous Nikon's, Nikon has dumped a lot of features into this camera and so this camera is feature rich - tons of things in here to be able to access. Alright so here's my first of my wildcards. Every once in a while I'll have a wild card that I know is not gonna be right for everybody, but for some people this is gonna be a great choice because this is one of the least expensive ways to get into a full frame camera. So you can start shooting full frame right from the get-go for not too much money. Probably the best one in this category at a much lower price range than the Sony, is the Canon 77D. This is the least expensive camera that I can think of that has two control dials - one for shutter speeds and one for apertures. So when you're wanting to learn manual photography, you got dedicated controls and you can really do that in an easy fashion. It's also part of the common Canon family so it gives you a lot of different options on accessories and lenses out there. Now the urban dweller might be somebody who takes the subway into work, maybe doesn't have too much space in the briefcase to put the camera, or maybe someone who just travels around a lot, so I'm thinking compact size, lots of features, moderate budget on here. The Panasonic GX85 is a nice small size camera, gives you great video features, and so this is a good overall camera with interchangeable lenses with the Four Thirds System, so a lot of good options out there. Another good one, this is a pretty new camera - the Fuji X-E3. It's got the same style design. They call it a rangefinder design 'cause it's just kind of a square box - it doesn't have the hump that the SLR's have in the middle - and Fuji's got a lot of traditional controls, and so it's kind of a tech-savvy type camera you might say. Probably the techiest of these is the Sony a and this is loaded with features. It has image stabilization built into the sensor, it's got a nice tilt-screen so you can use it in a lot different angled situations for low-angle or high angle shooting. It's probably one of the best focusing cameras of its size and price range, and as I say it's just loaded in features. I have a fast-start class on the a and that is like a full length class 'cause that menu is just chopped full of features in there. Alright, kinda going on from our aspiring student is the future pro. This is somebody who knows they're getting serious and every once in a while I meet somebody who's like, hey I am doing this, I am going all cards in, I wanna take this as far as I can, I wanna get into a system that I don't change out very much. And so, this is for people who really wanna compete on the level of pros as far as image quality, or perhaps out in their own business. The Canon 6D Mark II is a full frame camera from Canon which is gonna get you access to the full frame lenses, the lens options that Canon has, and is gonna work very good under low-light conditions, so it is a good all around camera for many types of photography. The Sony a7 II, once again a little bit of wildcard just because it's a mirrorless system, it's still growing. Sony does not have as fleshed out of a pro-system of support as Canon and Nikon, and that's why it's getting the wildcard status, but you are able to shoot professional quality photos on this because of the sensor, and the available lenses that are available right now. My top pick in this category is the Nikon D750. This has been on the market now for a couple of years and I'm not gonna be too surprised if we see an update too far into the future, but this has just been a favorite camera. This is just what I call a well-balanced camera when it comes to the features. They didn't overdo you with features that you didn't need. but they gave you all the features that somebody who needed top quality performance from the camera, are gonna get in there, and so it's just a good balance for portrait and sports, and landscape, and just about everything else. And so all of those are gonna be good for your future professional photographer. Alright, changing gears here. The filmmaker. You're buying a still camera but you're very interested in shooting quality video from that same device. So here you're looking at how good a video you get from the camera, what sort of features does it have, and what sort of accessories can you get for it. Now the Canon 80D might seem like a strange choice here because it is one of the only cameras on the market that is not shooting 4K. But if you're willing to shoot HD and not get 4K, this is one of the simplest cameras with one of the best auto-focusing systems around for shooting video, and so it's a great one. This is one of the best blogger cameras out there if you will. The Sony a7s II. This is that 12 megapixel camera that does extremely well under low light shooting, also on a full frame sensor. The top choice in this case is gonna be the Panasonic GH5. Panasonic as I've said many times before is very strong in video. They've got a lot of great accessories that you could hook up. One accessory I wanna show you and this is the type of thing that you'll get with Panasonic that you don't see with a lot of other companies. And so if you wanna hook up mics, you need to have good audio and so this is gonna have switches for hooking up right in here XLR microphones, and the other manufacturers just do not have this. You gotta get adapters for this to work in here and then you can go in, and you can mix the sources between these two to get the right sound in there. And so if you're trying to do a field production, mixing sounds on lav mics, this is the type of thing that would be very handy for those type of photographers, for who shooting film is very important. And so the Panasonic GH5 is something that I know a lot of people who have full frame cameras will have one of these just for shooting video. Alright, landscape pro. When I teach photography classes and I ask people what they're interested in shooting, the most popular answer is they wanna shoot landscapes, and if you wanna shoot landscapes and do it really well, here's a few of my favorite picks. The Sony a7R III. It just came out, 42 megapixels, relatively small camera but it is a full frame sensor, does very good under low light, very very high resolution. I've been working the a7R II for a good number of years. I do plan to get an R III and I will have a fast start class on that - I'm very excited about picking that camera up because it looks like they've made some nice subtle improvements from the previous version. The Canon 5DSR and the 5DS is a 50 megapixel monster. This is the king of megapixels right now and so if you want the greatest resolution, it's a great camera. It's not the best camera if you want to shoot at higher ISO's 'cause it gets a little bit noisy in that realm, but I've worked with the 5DSR for quite a while and I've been doing landscape photography, and boy the images you get from it you can really blow up to really large sizes. However the winner of this category is the Nikon D850. Brand new camera from Nikon, 46 megapixels, and they have a number of great features in here. I'm going to be doing a class on the Nikon D coming up here in a little bit and one of the features I'm excited to explain and talk to you about is focus stacking. The camera can automatically shoot a series of photos that you will then use a software program to compile to get infinite depth of field. You can have something in the foreground perfectly in sharp focus and something in the background perfectly in sharp focus, and there's only a couple of other cameras on the market that can do it, and it's the only one of this category that can do this focus stacking. A number of other great features in there and it's a hugely popular camera even though it just came out. It's been selling out every time the new batches come into the stores. Alright, for all you sports shooters, and your wildlife shooters can be right in here as well. So this is where you're gonna wanna be shooting fast action, you want fast frame waits, fast focusing, and you want telephoto capabilities. The Canon 7D Mark II, that was my choice when I went on safari this last summer. That's what I use with my telephoto lenses so I can have a lot of reach to grab action and subjects that were really far out there. It's a good well-honed camera that works very very easily. Alright, this is a little bit of a wildcard - I'm going a little unfair here. To be honest with you, I am not even choosing the top of the line Canon 1DX Mark II, it's a $6,000 camera, it's in another stratosphere. The Nikon D5 is another beautiful fantastic camera that actually the professional sports photographer would choose, and this is a pretty expensive camera here. This is around $4,500 but I got a chance to work with the a9 'cause I made a class on this one as well, and I was working with the 100, 400 lenses, and we were shooting the Blue Angels here in Seattle, and I was shooting at 20 frames a second and it was the best sports experience I've ever had. It did not blackout in the view finder because of the special feature that it has in there, and so it's quite amazing for a sports camera. They don't have all the sports lenses that I want them to have, but they're working on it. They're gonna be coming out with more of them there. Right now probably, the best sports/wildlife action camera for most people is gonna be the D500. Lots of focusing points, fast 10 frames per second focusing, part of a large Nikon system, it has lots of great lenses. Nikon recently introduced a 200 to 500 lens that is hand holdable with image stabilization or as they say, vibration reduction. And so that has been a very popular camera and very very good in that realm. Alright got a couple more categories for you here; the world traveler. Many of you know I have a travel class and I love traveling, going to Cuba, going to Africa, and many places in the future, and part of the sight thing here is compact size; you can take everything with you. But you do want high quality pictures, and you want a lot of features so that you can do a lot of different things out there in the field. The Sony a7 II, mirrorless camera, full frame sensor is gonna get you that image quality in a relatively small package. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is gonna be for somebody who really says size is very important. This gets you down into the Four Thirds System where you can have fairly large telephoto lenses in a fairly small package. My favorite travel camera is the Fuji X-T2. Cropped frame sensor means it's smaller size camera and because the whole system is designed around these smaller sensors, the lenses are appropriately sized for it. It's got some of those traditional controls which can be very easy to use, and it's just the right balance for a photographer. This is the one that also had the really handy flip-out screen that flips out and tilts to the side, so you can shoot vertical or horizontal from many many different angles. So it's got just that perfect blend of features on them and so I love that camera for that regard. Alright, our final category here is the adventure trekker, and this is very similar to the world traveler but this person needs a camera that is more durable. They're looking at weather resistance with much greater interest than just simply the world traveler. So the Fuji X-T2 which is weather sealed as are many but not all other Fuji lenses is gonna fit into this category as well. Panasonic has a number of cameras that are gonna work. The G85 I think has got a nice small body, weather sealed that is gonna work very well for the adventure trekker. And I think my favorite one is gonna be the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. This has fantastic weather, dust resealing, sealing a lot of different types of problems, it's got a fantastic collections of small but then also professional lenses as well. And so it would be a great choice. So hopefully you can fit into one of those categories or maybe you'd straddle between two of them, and you have a number of cameras to look at. But hopefully that's gonna guide you to better choice in the camera for yourself. Kenna let's take a look and see if there's any final questions we can wrap this up with. The question came from Sunrise is and it's when do you we know when it's time to upgrade? So in other words, what are the questions that we should be asking ourselves if we, if it is time to upgrade our... Well there are different reasons for upgrading. The, can I be dad for a moment? I'll be dad for a moment. You should upgrade when your equipment is holding you back. If your equipment is preventing you from doing something you want to do, it's not getting you the jobs you want, it's not getting you the enlargements that you want, you see that there's new technology coming around and you would really like to get involved in that, like the original digital cameras, they couldn't shoot video and maybe you really wanna do that. There's gonna be constant new innovations and so if there's something that you really want to do that your camera cannot do, that's a good time to upgrade. Now, let me by your Eddie Haskell. You remember Eddie Haskell? He was the friend who would always get them trouble. You should upgrade when you really want to. When you need a pick me up in photography and a new camera's gonna get you excited and get outdoor, and start shooting, and maybe look at photography in a new way, if that's what it takes, fine. Go out and get yourself a new camera in that regard. Now is it gonna change your photography? Hopefully it just changes your excitement and interest in photography, and I know some people do that a little too often so you have to be careful with that one. And so, I get a new camera when I see that there's something that I'm gonna make good use, and be of good value to me. And I don't worry about it too much because you know what, every camera I've ever owned, I have resold and somebody else then takes and they use, and I take sum of money, and I invest it in the new camera. So it's not like I'm throwing the money away. I'm just, I get to use it for a while, and now it's somebody else's turn to make use of that product. So take care of your cameras, sell'em and let somebody else or give them away to a charity, and let somebody else make use of them as well. Great answer John. Thank you so much. So any final words for us? Where can we follow you, where can we find out more? So if you are interested in what the next steps that you can take as a photographer are, well, go out and get your camera. Whatever that is, get your camera, and then learn how to use it. If it's one of the more popular cameras, I have about 50 different fast starts available on Canon, Nikons, Panasonics, like as pretty much everything out there. Lenses, I have a whole class on lenses; one on Canon, one on Nikon. I do plan on making one for other manufacturer's as well so look for that in the future. If you wanna learn the fundamentals of photography, I have a short class called The Photography Starter Kit, and that's for the person who wants to get like a three hour class and get out the door right away. For those of you who really wanna dig into the details to really become knowledgeable about this whole aspect, the Fundamentals of Photography, is an in-depth class. There's like I think over a hundred different lessons in that class where we get into a lot of different topics in great depth. And then on a regular basis, I am recording One Hour Photo here which is a one hour section where I'm answering your questions, I'm interviewing another photographer/instructor here at CreativeLive, and we get to see a little behind the scenes peak at what their business is like and their photography. They bring in some samples of their photographs and we get to look at those, and then we take a look at your photographs that you submit into the Fundamentals of Photography. So you can submit your photos to CreativeLive through the Fundamentals of Photography web page, I go in there, I look for interesting photos, and then I and my guest review and talk about those photos - what we like, what we don't like, what we would improve. And so it's a great place to get your, an image review of your work available. And so you can check that out and those are all free. So you can find those on the CreativeLive website and they're all for free. If you're interested in getting contact with me, you can go to my website I have lots more information about my classes, talks, appearances that I'm doing. I am also on Facebook - would love to connect with you there - as well as Instagram with those addresses that you see on screen.

Buyer's guide will be your guide to figuring out the best digital camera for your needs.

Gear expert John Greengo dives into the major brands and lenses that are currently on the market.

John breaks down some of the more confusing aspects of mirrorless and DSLR's from focusing systems to sensor size; you'll get a better understanding of what the gear does so you can make an informed decision.

At the end of the class, John gives his recommendations for different types of photographers from the aspiring student to the filmmaker and everyone in between.



  • John is a great teacher, and I've learned allot in this lesson. I already had an idea what camera I want to buy next but happy to know it was also what he recommended (for my field). Really love his free classes by the way where he talks with other photographers and discusses photos of viewers. Awesome!
  • John has a very good way of explaining things to make them both simple and complete. His makes great use of visual graphics in his explanations. I highly recommend any of his courses, the material presented is well thought out and flows very well.
  • Amazing course. So much education provided in these free classes. I will definately be taking more. I am so glad I watched these before jumping in and buying a camera. This is a much watch for all people who are new to photography and are looking to buy a camera.