What camera should I buy? It’s a question that, as a photographer and professor, I get asked all the time. It’s also a question that has no straight answer.
There are many factors to consider when purchasing a camera, and between budget, features, and intended use, it’s possible that more than one camera can fit the bill. That said, the folks at Mango Street take a stab at answering the question in a sponsored video with the Canon EOS M200.
They look at what they consider some “must-have” qualities in a beginner’s camera, and they list interchangeable lenses, the ability to shoot in manual mode and raw photos, fast and reliable autofocus, 4K video capability, and affordability.
In what they describe as a “no excuses” photoshoot, they tackle portraits in the harsh midday sun with no extra lighting equipment or gear except what’s in the Canon EOS M200 Mirrorless Digital Camera Content Creator Kit. The results are definitely a cut above a smartphone with a much larger sensor, and the duo showed what’s possible with what they’ve classified as a “beginner” camera.
While not the newest or fanciest piece of kit, it makes a lot of sense for people stepping up from a smartphone, where most beginners will be coming from. There’s no viewfinder, but there’s an articulating screen and touchscreen functionality, something many students are surprised to find that is a relatively new addition to DSLR and mirrorless cameras.
That said, in trying to introduce my young children to photography, I’ve tried all sorts of cameras for these beginners, from smartphones, to point-and-shoot cameras, to full-on DSLRs. Aside from the weight complaints of a DSLR (something adult-sized beginners probably don’t have to worry about) it’s spot-on that Daniel Inskeep and Rachel Gulotta recommend something with interchangeable lenses, because at that point, you’re dealing with cameras that have significantly better autofocus than any smartphone or point-and-shoot camera, even at the entry level, such as a Nikon D3500 or Canon EOS Rebel T7, not to mention the wealth of mirrorless options, such as the Sony a6100 or Olympus OM-D E-M10 III.
Having a camera with some scalability, such as any of the models above, is key, since beginners can start on the automatic or semi-automatic modes, but then won’t find themselves limited as their skills grow and they start diving into the more advanced features of the camera. It’s one of the reasons I love my Olympus OM-D E-M10 II (the predecessor of the camera above), as it has plenty of modes for when I want a quick photo, but doesn’t hold back on anything manual.
I’d add that a viewfinder experience, whether electronic or through-the-lens viewing, is essential to learning framing and composition as well, but that could be the DSLR dinosaur in me talking. I personally find it the difference between taking a photo and making a photo, by tuning out the distractions and the world around you.
As many beginners will be finding a camera under the tree for the holidays, it’s certainly a good time to check out some of the deals that are out right now around Black Friday.
What would be some of your recommendations for a beginner level camera? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.