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How to Choose Your First DSLR Camera

Lesson 15 of 16

Camera Recommendations

John Greengo

How to Choose Your First DSLR Camera

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

15. Camera Recommendations

Lesson Info

Camera Recommendations

What do I actually recommend that you buy I recommend that you buy a camera that fits your needs and so I wrote down a list of what I call camera values things that you are going to set and every person is going to set up a different set of list and so the beginner might look at this list and think about what's most important to them one of the things if you kind of really wanted to analytically go through what you want to buy take this list maybe add something that I forgot to add in here and really think about what is most important to you in your camera and you know we all want to say that image quality is the most important thing but there's a lot of other things that factor in on the camera and each person depending on how they're going to use the camera is going to come up with their own list and order for that list which means they're going to come up with their own unique camera there is the potential that if you ask me the right set of questions I would recommend each and ever...

y one of these cameras for a particular user depending on what their needs were where they were their budget, existing equipment and everything else and so I don't think there is a camera here that is just like no under no circumstance would I ever buy that camera I really don't imagine that there's a situation why each of these cameras might be best for you, it's just a matter of narrowing things down. So let's, go into my recommended cameras and we're going to start off with a category that I call the can't go wrong cameras these air cameras that are just flat out multipurpose cameras, good for a wide variety of things, they are generally very high in quality, they have a lot of features and they're part of a large system, so if you want extra lenses, you wantto upgrade there's going to be many more accessories and cameras that you could go to so here's our less the canon rebel t six s nikon d seventy two hundred cannon seventy d nikon d seven fifty in the cannon five d mark through it's hard to imagine that you would buy one of these cameras and just go. You know, this camera just doesn't work for me now. It may be larger because none of these air the marylise cameras these are just really safe cameras that I could probably plug in to any of the recommended categories that I'm going to have going forward, and so these are if we were kind of like trying to eliminate him, all of these have a safe but not him so it you know these are all safe you cannot eliminate these from the bunch and so they were just generally good ones that I recommend in many, many cases when people came in to buy a camera I would try toe fit in my mind what they're doing with the camera and what's important and they would fall into different categories which is how I came up with these categories the two most significant reasons or most important reasons that people go out and buy new cameras two things babies and vacations that's why people want to buy cameras so the family photographer is one of your most common types of photographers and because kids lost the cost a lot of money they're usually budget minded in what they need to get they got a lot of stuff there karen around so they would prefer not something two big and bulky and the family photographer also want something fairly easy to use so that anyone who happens to be near the camera can pick it up and get some good shots of the family. So my first pick here is the cannon t six I this is the slightly more simple version from the t six s super popular systems super popular camera the rebels have been very, very popular in the digital world this is going to be the best of the three options I'm going to show you for manual and in each of these categories I'm going to give you three choices that I think are all really good just for slightly different types of users so if you wanted to get into it manually I think this is going to be the best of this little group here there are lots and lots of lens choices because you're in the cannon land system which is huge. All right the next one is a nikon j for now this is what this gets a wildcard, folks. Now the wild card here means this may not be right for a large percentage of you but for some of you this might fit the bill because it is the smallest in size by actually a large margin it's got the fewest number of buttons. This is for somebody who doesn't care about shooting manual insist for somebody who wants a very automatic camera but it's small in size and has a very good auto focus system now it does not have a viewfinder which is one of those wild card things it's not going to work out for some people and so if you said I really need the simplest smallest thing possible, that might be a good option my favorite choice in this category is the nikon d thirty three hundred I think it's just a good, simple camera. It's got some manual controls, lots of manual controls if you want to dive in and get to them. Lots of growth potential with higher and cameras and lots of other lenses and there's. A lot of good lands choices. Now, there are many other cameras that we could fit in here. And it's really hard to answer the question. What's the best camera for me. And I kind of feel like when you ask me that question, you're trying to turn over your purchasing decision to me that way if you make the wrong decision, it's my fault not your fault. Because I recommended a particular camera to you. And the fact of the matter is that there is going to be a range of good choices, none of them perfect, but all of them good. And I think all of these fit that type of photographer quite well. All right, let's, go to the next category. This is the super tight budget. Just somebody who did not have a lot of money to budget for photography. And they want to get in. And they want to do something kind of manual with it because they want to get into it the least amount of money and so best value here. Biggest bang for the buck is very important, and you also want to look at the lens is where can you get affordable lenses? So we're going to see that nikon d thirty three hundred pop back up again, nikon lowest priced slr camera and it gives you enough features that you can get in and start really having fun and photography. You have the large systems, so lots of flashes and lenses are available for it. And this is going to be pretty nice for those who want a very simple system with not a lot of buttons, not a lot to fuss with on the outside of the camera. Next up is cannons sl one. This is the camera that I said is much smaller or can really put a lot of effort into making a smallest possible. So if you also wanted to have the smallest camera possible in this category, the sa one does a good job of that part of cannon system. So a very large system, of course, and it's very easy to work with in auto or manual. So for working it in manual, I think it's a little bit easier than the d thirty three hundred. My favorite in the super tight budget category is the t five, which is not a very common cameron from canada. Many places don't have it or they don't really talk about it much because it's kind of a stripped down model they've taken off a number of the fancy features with in order to have it at a lower price. The last time I saw this it was on sale and it may or may not be on sale by the time you see this, but it was four hundred dollars for the body and the lands with it, which is just an incredible deal for what it has to our from so part of the canon system, so it uses all the canon lenses it has some very nice manual controls if you want to get into manually uses, I would be happy to use this all day long because it's something that you could easily access and work with and so that t five is a nice little camera next up is the aspiring student, so this is a person who's probably on a budget, but they really want to get into photography and this is something that they want to pursue maybe a little bit more seriously than the previous categories that we were talking about. So we do have that budget mindedness, and they're also looking for a very high value so it's just slightly different than the super tight budget there may be willing to spend a little bit more money to get more growth potential stepping up with nikon to the d fifty five hundred it's going to load you up on features it's got a lot more features than the thirty, three hundred very good growth potential because it's part of the nikon system has a lot of commonly used accessories all right going to throw another wild card at you hear the olympus e m ten marylise camera very small in size and so if you wanted something that was notably smaller than everything else in this particular category, I think this is a good choice there's a feral lee good number of nice lenses that you can get that aren't too much money in this and they're becoming very, very common because that micro four thirds len system is shared with panasonic and this is a nice little camera it's got a very, very traditional slr look to it and feel to it when you use it, and so it's got a pretty good big system and it continues to get bigger and bigger at a pretty quick rate. My favorite cameron this category is the cannon t success or the seven, sixty d, depending on what market you're in and so very good value it's more features than the previous cannons that we've talked about, they tend to have the best manual control I also like the slr viewfinders andi have a lot of common used accessories and so if you're an aspiring student I think these air three great choices I think there's many other great choices but these air three that I would say are safe solid choices depending on exactly the direction you're going and what's important to you the next one a little bit of trouble on the name here I'm not sure urban dweller I was maybe the techie somebody who's not afraid of technology somebody who maybe is traveling around the city they take the subway to work or the metro and so compact size is important to them they're not afraid of features and so having a camera that sophisticated is something that doesn't frighten them at all and they have a bit more of a moderate budget so we're not trying to go at the very entry level pieces in here one of the cameras that I think is one of the most underrated cameras on the market is the gx seven iona gx seven I think it's a great little camera it's just loaded up with very very cool feature and so I'm a big fan of that it's got a very small size it's got a pretty darn good view finder on it because it is an e v f elektronik we find her on it it's got a tilting dvf and lcd so let me just show you real quickly on this camera here on ly camera the market where you can tilt the viewfinder to go up like this and this just enables you to hold the camera in a little bit steadier position rather than having to hold it all the way up high. You could hold it down lower. It also has a tilting dvf on the back. So for somebody who's doing street photography, we're trying to be a little bit more discreet. It's got a number of neat options on it also has an interval ometer on it, which can be kind of need as well. Feature loaded so that's a good choice. Another one that these folks might like is the fuji x e two. This is going to nice it's got a classic range finder style. So if you are liking something that just looks a little different than everyone else's camera, this is definitely going to have that look to it. Very good image quality. As I said, these fuji's punch above their weight class. They have very, very sharp sensors on them because they don't have that a filter on it. They use in the unique type of sensor that nobody else uses. They make their own sensors. They also have some great glass now I have a fuji xy two over here somewhere let's see if it's still here here it is okay right here and so one of the things that I have outfitted my fujii xy two with is a little extra grip on the bottom which gives me just a little bit of extra purchase right here so I could hold it a little bit more easily and there's an optional little fun grip on this is made by somebody other than fuji but fujii makes her own. I just happen to get my hands on this one and this slides into the hot shoe and provides a little place for me to catch with my thumb so it's a little bit easier to hole and for anyone familiar with like a cameras, some very high end range finders this has very much that feel to it and this is a great discreet camera for shooting and great image quality and I just love the way they designed a lot of their lands is really, really nice design on there and that is one of my favorite cameras and then the olympus am ten I think this is a great little camera it's probably the least expensive of the group I'm not I'm not sure it's going to be close they're all fairly close in price actually let me check my prices actually as I check all these prices are around seven hundred bucks so they're all about about the same right now so it's a little bit more that traditional slr style with the view finder in the middle it's highly customizable olympus cameras have been very very good about having all these function buttons so that you could re program the camera the way you want it to work and it's really nice to be able to have a feature that is just tailored so what you're billing and this camera has in camera stabilization so does the panasonic the fuji does not you need to get stabilized lenses for that one so no matter what lends you put on the olympus it's going to be a stabilized system for it so the fuji is probably going to have the best image quality because it's using the larger size sensor but the compact size and the style of the other to make him very nice and so for the tech savvy urban dweller I think this is all very good choices next up the future pro what I mean by this I'm talking about somebody who is knowingly getting into this saying I want to go pro I want to do serious work with this I don't want the limitations I have a bit more budget to throw at it I'm gonna want to get into manual I'm gonna want to get into some nice lenses so the professional qualities and features air very important image quality is very important and they want growth potential because maybe they can't completely go full pro right now, but they're going to go there eventually. The cannon sixty is cannons entry level camera when it comes to full frame sensors it's their least expensive camera so it's part of a huge system that has tons of rentals and loughner's repair shops and all of that good stuff. We talked about very good low light both in the picture taking capabilities and in the focusing of low light. Very, very good and it's very good image quality comparable with anything else that's currently on the market with cannon right now and so it's not super heavy and features but it's got the core technology to get great pictures right now another wild card for you is the sony a seven mark two this is a marylise camera. It is a full frame marylise camera and so there are some implications that go with that. One of the problems right now is that there's not a lot of lenses natively by sony for this camera, there are adapters and you can use canon lenses and nikon lenses with some minor limitations and using it now this camera is the smallest and lightest in this group that I'm going to show you here in some ways, that doesn't matter because you got to put a lens on it. It's a matter of the package after you've put it all together, but it is a little bit smaller and it is a little bit lighter and there is the option of a gapping all those canon and nikon lenses on there. And my favorite in this future pro category is the new nikon d seven fifty it's, a full frame cameras so great image quality like all of these here, these are all full frame cameras, and the reason these air all whole frame is because if you know you're getting serious, I think it's better to get that camera in lenses that fit that system right from the get go rather than trying to transition up if you have that money to get the lenses that you need right now. And I think the seven fifty has really hit a sweet spot. It's been selling very well in the stores because there's just a really good balance of features and quality for the price that you get in that camp and it's, one of the faster shooting cameras at six and a half frames per second, so for a wedding photographer and our event photographer were even a sports photographer. That's a pretty good rapid speed to be shooting pictures at and so my constant a very good job designing what what essentially to me is a brand new camera that's not really a derivative of any previous camera so all of these are gonna do quite well the canon and nikon are clearly safe choices because you have the largest lens collection out there the sony has some unique attributes that make it very qualified but it is a limited collection of lenses and support out there for it at this time. All right, the next group is the filmmakers these are people who want to shoot still pictures but they also want to shoot video and video is very important to them. So the quality of the video that the camera suits is important the features the options of things they can turn on and off switch from one setting to the other is important and how many different accessories video folks? They hook up all sorts of gear to their cameras so they can focus and hold it right and see right and adjust things and they get to look like crazy contraptions but they're starting with sl ours for kind of a traditional slr the cannon seventy d his one of those rare cameras from canon that has that dual pixel technology for focusing very quickly when it's in the live mode there's only this one in the seventy mark two which could easily fit here, is well, and so this is going to be the best focusing while shooting movies foreign slr camera it works is a great still camera as well on top of this, and there is the line of cinnamon lenses that you can use with this as well. The sony a seven s is going to be a favorite camera for a lot of people because it's twelve megapixels it shoots on a full frame sensor and it's going to be really, really good in low light situations. It's going to be the best of this group of recommended cameras when it comes to low light work, and so if you don't want to have to add more light to it, you want to do it in camera it's going to do a great job of that, and then we have the choice of adding on lenses because it's a marylise camera we can put on a lens adapter and hook up cannon or nikon or older type lenses from other manufacturers pretty easily. Granted, you may have to have some work arounds when it comes to focusing and exposure, depending on the system you have set up using actually the smallest of the sensors, the panasonic g eight four is offering the most features right out of the box when it comes to video. As I said before, panasonic has a really strong presence and video. We have great image quality straight out of the camera. There are tons of features in this about shooting a different frame rates and bit rates and compressing the size and doing all sorts of crazy things that video folks really like to be able to do and it's pretty compact in size. And when you start hooking this up to all the other gear that you need it's, nice to start with a small camera, because then you can mount the camera and put the camera in small places in far off places, and so all of these are going to do very good, but for different reasons when it comes to shooting film or making movies. Next category is somebody who was photographing action things that are moving, so we need fast focusing. We want fast shooting, which means fast frames per second, and we want a lot of options for our telephoto lenses. First up, good kind of middle of the road camera. The nikon seventy two two hundred it's got a very good focusing system on it. That's very versatile. You have many different points that you can use fifty one focusing points for focusing, and you can select groups of nine and twenty one focusing points and moving left and right in the frame. And it's just got very easy manual control for controlling shutter speeds, apertures, white balance all those sorts of things you need to get to very quickly it's just a good, simple camera to get to a little bit more budget minded. The cannon t six s is going to have a very good focusing system, I think the best focusing system at its price level, so this is the least expensive for the sports shooters it's going to be the smallest in size and as I say, it's going to have the best auto focus for the money, so maybe mom or dad photographing their kids in high school or great school sports? That would be a really good camera for shooting the sports. My favorite in this category is the seventeen mark to this is the camera that has sixty five focus points. They're all cross type focus, so they're very good they cover a huge range of the camera and ten frames a second means you're not going to miss the shot it is you're going to be able to get it in there for sure, there's a lot of very advanced professional focus, confirmation and customization that you can do in this in fact, there's a lot of pro sports photographers that would use this as a backup camera because it's, small and lightweight and easy to carry around and there are tons of telephoto lenses all of these cameras are one point five or one point six crop factors so the telephoto lenses have a little bit more punch to him you might say and so all of these cameras are going to work very well favorite there clearly is the seventy mark too is just the performance level on it is a step above everything else like this so we got two more categories the world traveler so somebody who has a little bit money if you're traveling the world you probably have a little bit of budget to budget for a camera and so they're thinking about compact size and they want a high quality kind of the best bang they can get for the small size first off here going to go a full frame camera for somebody who is very serious and wants a really high quality image but they're looking for a relatively compact full frame camera the d seven fifty is about as good as you can get in that category going all the way to a full frame sensor huge collection of lenses, some great travel lenses and just tons of features we've talked about this camera before showing up again the p m five from olympus the small micro four thirds this would be for somebody who really wants a very small camera because this is the smallest of these three cameras in this grouping classic design flip lcd is going to make this very nice for shooting on the street and so that camera is right here this is theblaze version they have it in silver and black the flip out lcd screen which you can turn in to protect so now it doesn't get scratched you could pull it out if you're going to shoot video low or high up over people's heads at some sort of festival or event you can flip it around get yourself in the shot like that s o it's got a lot of options on it and so nice little camera in that regard and so my favorite camera for being a traveler type camera is the fuji sixty one small size camera great image quality some very nice lenses on this nice classic design on it so we've talked about the fugees before they do really well for their image size and so great little lens collection some very nice travel lends whether you want to super zoom or a couple of fast primes they don't have a huge collection of lenses but they have more than enough to cover all the travelers needs and we are onto our last category which is the adventure trekker so think about your skier your kayaker your hiker doing the pacific crest trail somebody who's getting out there and they need something small they need something light and they need something durable maybe even water resistant and they need features because they don't have a lot of size and they need to be able to do as much as they can in their little package. So once again our fuji x t one which we just saw in the world traveler category this camera is whether sealed and not all of their lenses or weather resistant but if you get the weather resistant lenses you'll have an entirely weather resistant package we have a lot of physical control dials which is going to make it easier to work with in cold weather for it perhaps and this one of the category in this category this is going to have the best image quality next up and this is a bit of a wild card here the nikon a w one this is the onley camera here that can actually go underwater fifteen meters and so if you want to do a little bit of snorkeling you could do it with this camera highly limited number of lenses available for this I think there's just a couple of lenses that you're going to get that air fully water resistant you can use the rest of the nikon one siri's which I believe there's about a dozen lenses on it but this is for the kayaker perhaps or the whitewater rafter who definitely wants better image quality than their phone and so this is going to be the smallest and the most rugged in this particular group the warning on this is no viewfinder, it's just the lcd on the back of the camera. So the olympus o m e m one this is theologian this top of the line camera, this is whether dust splash and freeze proof, so it is very, very durable it's got human stabilization built into the body, so no matter which lends you use your going to get stabilization and it's, a relatively small size body and there's a lot of very small size lenses that you can get with it. And so I think that would make an excellent twice as well, and it depends on exactly your nature of activity and what you want to do on this. All three of these, I think they're going to make some great choices, and so I'm going to be real interested if I did not categorize you. And so if you're listening, if you're live in the chat rooms right now, I would love to hear what your category that I forgot to put in there is I know why I didn't get everybody, but I was trying to group large groups of people into different types of categories, and so those are my recommended cameras, and that, folks, is how to choose your first dsr, all right? So this question about two votes if I buy an a p s c cameron now well the lenses work with a full frame camera if I have the same brand if I decide to upgrade in the future in short no okay so just to summarize a little bit if they buy a smaller frame camera and they buy lenses designed for that smaller frame sensor it gets a little complicated because in night khan's case you can actually use that lens on a full frame camera but you only get the center of the image because that lens is designed for the smaller sensor and so what happens with people with those a psc sensors is they often by full frame lenses knowing that they're going to upgrade and so that's something that you have to look at to see if it's right for you got it somebody just asked please please please ask john when he might lead a class on keynote because hey beautiful beautiful keene as that may be put that in the hopper for class somebody realized that was going on I have no plans on tv that's not where my pass it but you are master so here's another question we're giving a lot of questions actually about product photography so you commented a little bit about that and what would be a good camera and lens for product photography? I would say almost everything would I mean product photography when it comes to camera specifications are one of the easiest things because for the most part the cameras going to be on a tripod and your product is going to be lit by your lights and so you're going to adjust the lighting levels by that most products are not advertised on giant billboards some are obviously but most product photography is going on web which means you could use a twelve megapixel very small censored camera especially if you have good life and so pretty much any camera you want to work with is going is going to work fine in that category it's just not that challenge it's a challenging field I was almost going to say something else it's a challenging field but you can work with virtually any camera and I'm sorry to weasel out on something like that it's just that I could take any one of these cameras and I could do product shots with it because I know how to do a product shot not because the camera does anything special and so that's that's not a tricky situation for the camera okay this question is from grape ex sx nine votes I echo the questions about dslr versus marylise are we buying into old technology if we go dsr in some ways yes but that old technology is the best we have now and for the foreseeable future when it comes to action photography if your job was to be the school sports photographer, I would say you would be a complete fool to buy anything but an slr camera because it's that good right now in general, the dslr is the safe choice if somebody says I just can't decide between muralists and not the mira lists it's just a little bit different and some people have a harder time getting used to that and it's not kind of what they intended and so generally the route is to go from the point and shoot up to the dslr and then from there some people hell, you know what? I think the marylise is right for me now and so that's generally the erection and I'm I'm a little bit hesitant it directly appoint people to the marylise cameras, but they're getting better and better all the time, and I did have a lot of him in my recommendations. Awesome! You already sort of answered this one boat when should you decide to purchase a crop frame camera or a full frame camera? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Well, so and brief? Yeah, and so that's something that we we went through clearly in the class and personally I think that if you can't decide between full frame and the smaller you haven't done your research yet because I think there is a wide gulf in the price and the size and everything that's going on, because if you go back to the example, I think ahead of the nikon seventy two two hundred seventy seven thousand two hundred camera it's like that's, their top into the a p s. What if I want to go one step further? What doesn't look like it's that much more? But with all those lenses it's going to cost a lot more and for most people it's not worth it. I know if you go into the forums and on the photography blog's everyone's going to be, I should full frame, and this is also I mean, you have to shoot full frame otherwise there some schmuck and, you know, count, you're not as good as the rest of us. And, you know, I can shoot pictures with my crop friend camera and also into people, and they'll never know whether it was full frame or crop for and I am. I love cameras, but I don't idolize him, and they're just tools. Whatever tool works, you use it.

Class Description

It’s nearly impossible for any beginner to sort through all of the functions, features, and price points of DSLR and mirrorless cameras and make an informed choice. In How to Choose Your First DSLR Camera, John Greengo will simplify the buying process and help you find the camera that fits your needs and your budget.

The key to finding a great DSLR camera for beginners is knowing the market and which questions to ask. In this class, you’ll learn about all the different types and brands of cameras and which one is right for you. 

You'll learn:

  • Which features are beneficial to your style of photography
  • The importance of having the right lens
  • The differences between Digital SLRs and mirrorless
  • How a camera’s sensor size impacts image quality

John will look closely at all the latest DSLRs from Nikon and Canon, and the mirrorless cameras from Sony, Fuji, Panasonic, Olympus, and others.

The current crop of photographic equipment is more diverse than ever before and finding the right DSLR camera for a beginner can be a challenge. There is a huge range of variables between cameras, even when they come from the same manufacturer. How to Choose Your First DSLR Camera will help you know what to look for and which questions to ask when it’s time to buy your first camera.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

John Greengo - How To Choose Your First DSLR - Reference Guide.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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I have to thank John Greengo and the CreativeLive staff for another wonderful class. Mr. Greengo is a very good instructor (he has a nice Bob Ross ambiance), very knowledgeable and very technical with the camera and the terminologies. I am very grateful that he has material to download so I can continue to review and learn. I own a DSLR but I never truly understood the baseline technology. I am in the process of purchasing a new camera system and lens for some photography but mostly for filmmaking. With the knowledge I gain by watching this course, I can better choose and identify the features of the future cameras in my upcoming new passion. Thank you CreativeLive and Thank you Mr. Greengo. I am looking forward to attending future classes.


This was a great class. I already had an idea of the direction I wanted to go as I start my new business, but this class really helped me focus on the most important upgrades I need to make to my current system. I was particularly impressed with the visual graphics used to explain the technical functions of cameras and how those functions affect image quality and camera use. I would highly recommend this class to anyone who wants to up their camera system and I am looking forward to taking the classes that are specific to the camera systems I am using. I would love to see a class on image processing and getting the most out of editing software. Great Job! Glad I signed up for CreativeLive.

Bev Anne

Excellent course. I was happy to find out that I made a good choice when purchasing my entry level DSLR camera -- it does everything I need at the moment. I was also interested to find out that mirrorless is the wave of the future -- I really like the idea of the light weight because I am developing some arthritis in my wrists and when I am ready to move up in the future I will have great options. Meanwhile I also learned that there is an inexpensive lens that I can get that will upgrade my system enough for the immediate future. Thank you John Greengo for this informative class it was well worth the purchase price.