Best camera & photography gear for Beginners in 2022

The most frequent question that we receive from our students is : “I’m new to photography / videography, which camera / lens should I buy”? Teaching thousands of students every year in person, we got to understand your needs quite well. So we put together our recommended camera & photography gear, based on extensive research in the Swiss and German market.

We will suggest three complete kits for three different budgets for beginners general purpose. Then we have recommendations per type of photography if you already know what you want to photograph. You can then find detailed discussion about each decision later in the article.

Overall recommendations:

  • Consider 2nd hand: A recent camera plus a middle aged high quality lens will deliver much better results, compared to buying everything new at the same budget.
  • Interchangeable lens: Do not buy a camera with a fixed lens, not worth it.
  • Do not buy the “kit lens”: Kit lenses (usually 18-55mm) deliver similar or worse results compared to your phone. Prefer a better kit or buy the camera body and your lens(es) separately.
  • Get a fancy lens plus a cheaper camera. Cameras simply capture what the lens sees, better lenses will always make better images.
  • Get a mirrorless (if you have the budget): DSLR’s are still a good choice if you want to spend the minimum amount to see if you will like photography, but all the brands are now investing into mirrorless technology, so going mirrorless if now our recommendation for 2022.
  • Get a custom strap: Camera’s original straps are terrible. Get a good strap that you can use with any camera.
  • Consider renting before you buy
  • Invest in learning: Better gear doesn’t make you a better photographer: Save while buying gear and invest in classes & education. Learning photography will get you better photos with any camera, including your phone. Learning a camera is like learning how to use a brush while painting, it won’t necessarily get you better photos.

General purpose beginner

Camera & Lens

We recommend a cheap or 2nd hand recent camera body with a good lens or two. Avoid kit offers that include 18-55 or double zoom 18-55 & 55-200 lenses.

Choosing the brand

For most beginners, we recommend Canon or Nikon for photography. Both companies have a great selection of lenses, many years of experience and good ergonomics. Sony leads with the latest technologies in their sensors, however we find their menus and the buttons a bit too complicated for beginners.

Retro design cameras : Special note

Retro-design cameras such as FujiFilm, Nikon Z Fc, Olympus Pen, etc have become very popular with their beautiful designs that include dedicated dials for exposure.

However, in our experience, these dedicated aperture & shutter speed dials make it more difficult for beginners to start. If you’re an absolute beginner, we do not recommend those cameras to start your photography journey. However they can be an excellent second camera for your travels:)

Accessories

Strap

Whatever your level in photography, we strongly recommend a good strap to make carrying your camera much easier. The original straps that come with your camera are not comfortable, too short and not ergonomic. A good strap will make it very comfortable to carry your camera and you can use it with any camera that you have. The brand that we recommend is BlackRapid (Sports model).

This strap has a soft padding that always stays on your shoulder, distributes the weight equally to both sides of your body and when you need to take a photograph, the camera is fast at hand level, easily pulled up into position because the camera glides along the sling while the shoulder pad stays put.

You can order it from our online store at special prices for our followers.

Post-processing:

Software: Adobe photography plan: Lightroom & Photoshop. CHF 11.85 / month.

Hardware: Apple MacBook M1 or MacBook M1 Pro

Landscape Photography Cappadocia Osan Altun

Landscape Photography

Camera & Lens

  • Nikon D800E or D810 used, with a 24-70 f2.8 plus 16-35mm f/4.
  • Sony A7R2 used ($2000) + 24-105 G 
  • Sony A7R4 $5000  (60mp sensor) +  Sony 16-35 GM

Accessories

  • Strap: Blackrapid Curve Breath or sport (CHF 80)
  • Tripod: Carbon Fiber, min height 1.5m, travel series. SIRUI T-025SK Traveler Ultralight (CHF 200) or Gitzo Traveler Kit S1 (CHF 700)
  • Filter: Nisi Starter Kit Filter set (CHF 800)

Post-processing:

  • Adobe photography plan: Lightroom & Photoshop. CHF 11.85 / month.
  • Aurora HDR
  • Nik Color Efex (from Nik Collection)
  • Apple M1 MacBook Pro

Portrait Photography

Education is really much more important than photography gear in portraiture. If you don’t master light, composition and posing, no camera / lens combination will produce anything nice. Once you master these principles, we recommend to invest in high quality lenses that can deliver creamy backgrounds and good sharpness.

Camera & Lens:

  • Camera recommendation is the same as the general purpose. Eye tracking in mirrorless cameras helps a lot especially with prime lenses below.
  • Budget: 50mm f/1.8G or 85mm f/1.8
  • Best 85mm f/1.4 or 105mm f/1.4 + 70-200 f/2.8

Accessories

  • Camera Strap: Blackrapid
  • Portable Flash: Godox V1 (CHF 250) or Profoto A1 (CHF 1200)
  • Reflector: Godox RFT-05 5in1 Kit (CHF 35)

Post-processing:

Software: Adobe photography plan: Lightroom & Photoshop. CHF 11.85 / month.

Portrait Pro (Anthropics)

Hardware: Apple MacBook M1 or MacBook M1 Pro

Bakhmaro Georgien
Image credit: Ruedi Flück

Sports Photography

Camera & Lens

Consider shots per second (that will eliminate very high resolution bodies), reliable & fast focusing, good performance in high ISO especially when shooting indoors. Combine with a fast 70-200 f/2.8 lens.

  • Canon T6i + 18-135 lens 
  • Indoor sports: Canon 7D MII + Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 lens
  • Nikon D500 (budget DSLR with excellent AF speed) or Nikon Z9 + Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 lens
  • Canon R6 + Canon 70-200 f/2.8 ($4200 total)
  • Sony A1 30fps RAW! + Sony Gmaster 70-200 f/2.8 ($9300 new)

Accessories

Strap: Blackrapid

Post-processing:

Software: Adobe photography plan: Lightroom & Photoshop. CHF 11.85 / month.

Hardware: Apple MacBook M1 or MacBook M1 Pro

Photo credit: Malini Pittet

Wildlife Photography

Camera & Lens

Wildlife photography usually requires a significant investment in lenses to get close to your subjects without disturbing them. Our recommendations:

  • Budget: Canon powershot zoom $250 (binocular)
  • Canon 7D (M2) + Canon 400mm f/5.6 lens
  • Nikon D850 + Nikon 200-500 lens (Optimal) $2200 used. Check also 500mm f/5.6 and 800mm f/6.3 lens.
  • Canon R5 + Canon 800mm f11 (lighter) $4800 new
  • Sony A1 ($6500) + 600mm f/4 (total $19500) or Sony 400 mm f2.8 combined with a teleconverter x2 to get a 800mm at f5.6
  • Nikon Z9 ($7K) has eye-tracking for bird photography that is off the charts, if you have the budget. Add the new Nikon 400 f/2.8 Z if you have the budget.
  • Also check Tamron’s 150-600mm (~$1200) – works with all major brands, quite cheap vs similar lenses and great for beginners.

Accessories

  • Harness: JAMA – BAVETTE PORTE-TÉLÉOBJECTIF or cotton carrier
  • To hide and shoot: A tripod is obligatory (Travel series of any major brand, prefer carbon fiber, twist mechanism and ball head) and even better if it has a gimbal (e.g. Benro GH2).
  • For walking, a monopod is useful too and can also be used as stick for long walks:

Post-processing:

Software: Adobe photography plan: Lightroom & Photoshop. CHF 11.85 / month.

Hardware: Apple MacBook M1 or MacBook M1 Pro

Filmmaking / Videography / Vlogging

Camera & Lens

  • Smartphone plus a gimbal
  • Sony ZVE10 super compact (CHF 750 body only)
  • CANON EOS RP Body + RF 24-105mm f/4-7.1 IS STM (CHF 900 new)
  • Sony A7C $1800 Full frame
  • Canon R6 CHF 1900 new
  • Sony A7 IV : CHF 3000 new

Accessories

  • DJI OM 5 Smartphone Gimbal
  • Sennheiser MKE 400 Camera Mount Shotgun (for indoors)
  • Shure MV88+ Video Kit (outdoors vlogging on smartphone)
  • Wireless: RØDE Wireless GO II

Software:

  • Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Computer: Apple MacBook M1 Pro or Mac Studio

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Osan Altun

Osan Altun

Osan Altun is a Swiss photographer & photography instructor living in Geneva. He began photography as a hobby in 2008 with events and landscapes. Later he left his finance career to follow his passion and founded Swiss Photo Club in 2016. He can be found on instagram at @altuno and @altun_travel
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