The Very Beginning | What Is a Good Starter Camera?

Education, The Very Beginning

Hey friend! Welcome to the first post in my blog series, The Very Beginning. In this series, we’re going to dive into photography from, you guessed it, the very beginning! What is a good starter camera? How do I learn to shoot in manual mode? What lenses should I start with? These are just a few questions we’ll cover to get you started on your journey as a photographer.

My biggest tip as you get started is to choose a camera company and stick with it. I have always used Canon products, but Nikon and Sony have great options too. It will be expensive to switch companies after you start accumulating gear, so I highly recommend going with a big brand that will leave you with plenty of room to grow.

Choosing a Good Starter Camera

If you’re looking for a good starter camera that will serve you well as you consider the path of professional photography, here are the things I would consider:

Most Important

  1. Find a camera that shoots to an SD card, not internal camera memory. This will give you both more space to store more photos, as well as additional flexibility. If you fill the camera’s internal memory, you can’t take any more pictures until you transfer the photos to your computer and then delete them from the camera. However, if your pictures are saving to a memory card, you can always pop in a new card and keep shooting.

  2. You’ll want a camera that has the ability to shoot in RAW, not just JPG. If you aren’t going to edit your images, then shooting in JPG is best. However, as you learn to edit, you will have far more control and flexibility if you are working with RAW files. There is a lot more I could say about this, but we’ll save that for a future editing series!

  3. Find a camera that has the ability to change lenses. And more importantly, look for one that has the same lens mount as professional lenses. This will allow you to purchase higher end lenses before upgrading your camera body should you decide to.

Nice to Have

  1. Cameras have one of two types of sensor: crop or full-frame. If possible, look for one with a full-frame sensor. This will give you sharper photos with less noise, especially in low-light situations. Full-frame cameras are more expensive though, so if this isn’t an option for your starter camera, it will definitely be on the list of necessities when you’re ready to upgrade.

  2. While DSLR cameras used to be industry standard for professionals, mirrorless cameras have become very popular in the last few years and for good reason. Mirrorless camera bodies are smaller, the electronic shutter lets you shoot faster, the auto-focus is better, and you can see the effects of the camera settings live on the LCD screen without having to take a picture and then review it. While there is a strong used market for DSLRs, the lens ecosystem is going to get worse and long-term tech support is going to be harder to find. If possible, I highly recommend getting a mirrorless body. If you already have a DSLR, you can definitely still learn on it, but I would think hard about buying any new lenses for it.


Searching for a new camera can certainly be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Hopefully this criteria will be helpful as you do your research though. If you have any follow up questions, I’d love to help! Feel free to check out the ETP Shop, send me an email at or sign up to receive future photography tips below. Best of luck in your search for a good starter camera!

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more about me

I've been navigating military life with my family since 2008. In that time, I went from a full-time classroom teacher to an online course designer to a photographer. Actually, I still teach a little math on the side because I just love it too much!

Through it all, I've discovered how passionate I am about connecting with military families. Whether it's taking photos at a retirement ceremony, coaching a fellow milspouse photographer, or just grabbing coffee with a new squadron friend, I love this community. And as a teacher at heart, I'm excited to use this space to share what I've learned about business and life with you.


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