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”? We teach thousands of students every year, and we understand your needs quite well. So we have put together our recommended camera & photography gear for beginners, based on extensive research in the Swiss and German markets.

We will suggest complete kits for three different budgets for beginners general purpose. Then we have more recommendations for specialized photography needs 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 buying secondhand: A recent camera with an older but high quality lens will deliver much better results than a new camera and lens at the same budget.
  • Pair a fancy lens with a cheaper camera. Cameras simply capture what the lens sees. Better lenses will always make better images.
  • Buy a camera with an interchangeable lens: Fixed-lens cameras are not worth it.
  • Do not buy the “kit lens”: Kit lenses (usually 18-55mm) deliver similar or worse results compared to your phone. Buy the camera body and your lens(es) separately so you can get a better lens.
  • Get a mirrorless (if you have the budget): DSLRs 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, which is lighter and has superior auto-focus capabilities. Going mirrorless is now our recommendation for 2022.
  • Get a custom strap: Cameras original straps are usually terrible. Get a good strap that you can use with any camera.
  • Consider renting before you buy to figure out which gear you will actually use.
  • Invest in learning: Better gear doesn’t make you a better photographer. Save on gear in the beginning and invest in classes & education. Learning photography will get you better photos with any camera, including your phone. Cameras are like paintbrushes: buying the best won’t guarantee you great pictures–it’s only at higher levels of skill & expertise that you notice the difference.

General purpose beginner

Camera & Lens

We recommend a cheap or secondhand 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 too complicated.

Retro design cameras : Special note

Retro-design Cameras

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

Blackrapid Strap

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; they are 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 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 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:

Check our software for photographers article for an in depth look at our software recommendations

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

Hardware: Apple MacBook M1 or MacBook M1 Pro

Related classes:

We offer several photography classes for beginners to get you up to speed quickly.

Our recommendation is the 5-week evening class for beginners.

Landscape Photography Gear Recommendations, tips. 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 Breathe or Sport (CHF 80)
  • Tripod: Look for one made of carbon fiber with a minimum height of 1.5m, especially in a travel series. Cheap tripods are a false economy: if your tripod is heavy or annoying to use, you won’t use it! We recommend SIRUI T-025SK Traveler Ultralight (CHF 200) or Gitzo Traveler Kit S1 (CHF 700)
  • Filter: We prefer universal filters, which slide into a bracket you can attach to any lens. Our choice is the Nisi Starter Kit Filter set (CHF 800). You can also buy single filters that only work with one diameter of lens–but then you won’t be able to use the same filter for all of your lenses and may have to buy several.

Post-processing:

Check our software for photographers article for an in depth look at our software recommendations

  • Adobe photography plan: Lightroom & Photoshop. CHF 11.85 / month.
  • Aurora HDR : Free trial, CHF 99.- one time payment
  • Nik Color Efex (from Nik Collection)
  • Apple M1 MacBook Pro

Related Classes:

Portrait Photography Gear Recommendations, Tips. Photo by Osan Altun

Portrait Photography

Education is really much more important than photography gear in portraiture. If you don’t master light, composition and posing, no combination of cameras and lenses 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:

  • Our camera recommendation for portrait photography is the same as for general purpose. Eye tracking in mirrorless cameras helps a lot, especially with prime lenses (see 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:

Check our software for photographers article for an in depth look at our software recommendations

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

Portrait Pro (Anthropics)

Hardware: Apple MacBook M1 Pro

Related Classes:

Bakhmaro Georgien Sports Photography gear recommendations. Photo by Ruedi Flück
Image credit: Ruedi Flück

Sports Photography

Camera & Lens

The important considerations when comparing cameras for sports photography include shots per second (that will eliminate very high resolution bodies), reliable & fast focusing, and good performance in high ISO especially when shooting indoors. Combine with a fast 70-200 f/2.8 lens.

  • Canon R10 + 18-150 lens
  • Indoor sports: Canon R7 + Tamron or Canon 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)
  • Canon R3 + Canon 70-200mm f2.8 ($8000 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 Pro

Related Classes

Wildlife Photography Gear recommendations - Tiger by Malini Pittet
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)
  • Nikon D850 + Nikon 200-500 lens (Optimal) $2200 used. You can also consider 500mm f/5.6 and 800mm f/6.3 lenses.
  • Canon R7 + RF 100mm-500mm lens $4000
  • 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). It works with all major brands, is quite cheap compared to similar lenses, and is 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 a stick for long walks:

Post-processing:

  • Software: Adobe photography plan: Lightroom & Photoshop. CHF 11.85 / month.
  • Hardware: Apple MacBook M1 Pro

Related Classes:

Filmmaking Gear Recommendations - KayJMogg

Filmmaking / Videography / Vlogging

Camera & Lens

  • Smartphone plus a gimbal (see below)
  • 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 (for outdoor vlogging on smartphone)
  • Wireless: RØDE Wireless GO II

Software:

Related Classes:

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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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