There’s a lot of noise online about which is the best camera to start a photography business. Every photographer will have their own preference. (If you haven’t fallen down the rabbit hole of the great Canon vs Nikon vs Sony debate – count your blessings!)
It can be really overwhelming, especially if you’re looking to break into photography! So, as part of my new series “How to Start Your Photography Business on the Side”, I will give you all the information you need to purchase your first professional camera. There will also be more free resources at the end for newbie photographers on how to find clients and kickstart your photography business.
But today we’re just covering the very first step in starting your photo business – the camera. I’ll go over everything from your first camera budget to what you do and don’t need to get started.
How much should I spend on a professional camera?
I’ll be honest with you – photography is an expensive hobby and an even more expensive profession. Cameras can get up into the thousands of dollars. It’s the number one reason why people take so long to actually start their photography business.
As a new photographer, you should expect to spend about $400-$600 on your first camera. You may be able to pick up a used camera for a little less. Just remember, you’re not stuck with the first camera and lens you buy forever.
It’s much more important to invest in learning how to use your camera, better lenses, how to edit photos, and how to run your business than the actual camera body.
What type of camera do I need to start a photography business?
There are two types of cameras most professional photographers use a DSLR camera and a Mirrorless camera. There’s no real evidence that one is better than the other, it’s all about preference. It’s all about how you use it! I recommend starting with a DSLR camera because they tend to be more affordable.
The best cameras to start a photography business
Ok, cue the big Cannon vs Nikon debate in the comments! The truth is, there is no best camera to start your photography business. Most photographers get started with either a Canon EOS Rebel camera or a Nikon D series camera. They’re the two most affordable professional cameras on the market and they’re perfect for learning how to take professional-quality photos.
If you have more in your budget then you could invest in a mirrorless camera. (These typically run between $1,600 – $4,000+.) My favorites are the Sony Alpha A7 III, the Canon EOS R5, and the Nikon Z6II.
Don’t forget the lenses!
Now let’s talk camera lenses! Once you get a DSLR camera or a Mirrorless camera, you can actually start changing out your lenses. This is great because lenses allow you to control the focal range and how much light the camera lets in. It makes capturing great photos and blurry backgrounds much easier on you!
Lenses range from 18 mm – 105 mm on up. The lower the number (like 18 mm) the wider the angle of view. That means more background can be in the frame. Higher focal ranges, like 105 mm, have more narrow views and focus more on the subject and leave less room for the background.
Many cameras come with a standard “stock” lens. They’re ok and you can definitely start your photography business with just your camera body and stock lens. Once you’re able to upgrade, you’ll want to start buying “Prime Lenses” as they’ll give you good bokeh (the blurry background) and solid crisp images.
Best Canon Lenses:
Best Nikon Lenses:
- Nikon AF-S 50mm Lens (f/1.8 G)
- Nikon AF S 85mm (f/1.8 G) Lens
- Nikon AF-S DX 18-105mm Lens (f/3.5-5.6G ED)
Different photography niches tend to favor different lens sizes, so do your research before investing in any lens!
The best websites to buy your first camera
Ok, we talked about which cameras to look for and how much to budget – now let’s talk about where to buy your camera. There are tons of great online shops and specialist brick-and-mortar camera shops.
If you’re on a budget, I highly recommend getting your camera from:
- Facebook Marketplace
You can get great deals on used cameras locally from Facebook Marketplace or online on Ebay! I found several cameras on Facebook Marketplace for under $400. They won’t come with warranties so you will want to make sure they work well before purchasing. You can get an idea of the price ranges from the screenshots below!
Amazon is perfect for getting bundle deals that include the camera body, different lenses, and SD cards. They also have a great protection plan for if you accidentally damage your camera. (Plus, they always have special deals on Amazon Prime Days, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.)
Nice (but not necessary) gear
And before you ask – no, you really don’t need any other gear. All the equipment you need to start taking photos is your camera body, a lens, and at least one 128 GB SD card. Most seasoned photographers will have three or more SD cards, but you can get away with one to start out. (You do need a few software from the get-go, but more on that another time.)
Once you’ve booked your first few clients, invest in a hand strap or a cross-body strap to ensure you don’t drop your camera. It’s not necessary, just nice! Check out my Ultimate Gift Guide for 2023 for other helpful (but not necessary) items.
Don’t let a camera stop you from perusing photography!
Photography is one of the best careers for people who love to travel, love working with people, and love being creative. If you’re feeling intimidated by the camera investment or how to learn to use one – don’t! We all start somewhere.
Starting a photography business is less about what camera you get and more about learning to use it well and run the behind-the-scenes of a business. Choose the camera you can afford and just get out there and start shooting!
If you want more resources for new photographers, download my free Step-By-Step Guide to Start Your Photography Business or check out the blogs below.
* Yes, some links on this page are affiliate links. That means there’s no cost or upcharge to you, but if you purchase the items I get a small percentage from the linked company.
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