- Canon EOS Rebel T6i is a DSLR camera in the APS-C format that has a high-resolution 24.2mp sensor and uses Canon EF lenses for a huge variety of lens options. Beginners can pair it with the Canon EF-S 18-135mm IS STM lens for an extremely versatile beginner kit.
- If mirrorless is your preference, look at the APS-C format Sony Alpha a6300 camera with a Sony 16-50 PZ lens for an ultra-compact, fully-capable beginner setup.
- A Full Frame format camera that beginners will find both comfortable and affordable is the mirrorless Canon EOS R. It’s lightweight, full-featured, Full Frame format, and records 4K video. Add the Canon RF 24-105mm lens for a compact and affordable system.
- MPB Review
- Why the Canon EOS R is a Great First Full Frame Camera
- How To Save Money When Buying Photography Gear
Photo by structuresxx via iStock
As you browse the web for learning more and more about photography, you have no doubt seen many types of cameras used for photography.
There are so many options that you have to choose from, so we decided to make a primer covering what cameras are used for photography by beginners and intermediate photographers.
Even if you’ve already made your choice, this may help you understand some basic principles for your future growth as a photographer.
Format Options for Digital Photography
One of the concepts that I see many entry-level photographers struggle with is the types of formats that are available.
The three most popular digital formats of cameras used for photography from beginner through advanced levels are MFT, APS-C, and Full Frame.
Also known as Micro Four Thirds or Micro 4/3rds, MFT (like the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II shown above) is the smallest of the three formats and offers advantages and disadvantages. A major advantage is the small size and weight of cameras and lenses.
A disadvantage is that since the actual pixels are small for any given resolution, their light-gathering ability is lower than comparable resolution cameras in larger formats. Other advanced features like image stabilization can offset that issue.
Many MFT cameras used for photography are also excellent cameras for high-quality video recording. In fact, many of the premier videography cameras are in this MFT format. The 4:3 aspect ratio of this format transfers over to video formats with little or no loss of quality.
APS-C format cameras (like the Sony a6300 shown above) that are used for photography actually predate digital photography, having been an alternate film format from 35mm or 135 format. It is one step down in size from Full Frame 35mm format and offers several advantages over the other two formats for entry-level photographers.
Advantages of the APS-C format are smaller size and lighter weight cameras and lenses compared to Full Frame, larger pixel size compared to MFT, and having some of the most budget-friendly cameras for beginners and intermediate level photographers. The 3:2 aspect ratio is the same as Full Frame cameras.
Disadvantages include the lower light gathering ability of sensors in the same resolution compared to Full Frame and few truly budget-friendly entry-level cameras have 4K video capability.
4K video is a high-quality standard usable for extremely sharp videos to be viewed on larger devices such as a TV. Plus the 3:2 aspect ratio often requires some alteration to fit common video display formats.
Full Frame Format
Full Frame format (like that in the Canon EOS 1DX shown above) is the exact same size as 35mm or 135 format film and is the largest of the three common digital formats of cameras used for photography.
Advantages are ultra-high-quality imaging and extreme low-light capability. Disadvantages are the increase of size, weight, and prices of cameras and lenses. Even with larger sizes and prices in mind, there are some excellent cameras in this format that beginners could consider.
As you read through other articles or chat forums discussing cameras used for photography, don’t let any camera snobbery or snide comments get you down about format and camera choices. All three of these options are excellent choices for photographers of all levels of expertise.
DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras Used for Photography
Photo by yanik88 via iStock
DSLR is an acronym for digital single lens reflex, meaning the cameras use a mirror and a prism to show you the view through the lens that will be captured on the sensor. Mirrorless cameras use the sensor and an electronic display to accomplish the same thing.
Both types of cameras have pros and cons. Most mirrorless cameras are smaller and lighter than DSLR cameras but they are often more expensive and use up battery charge faster.
Also, even though mirrorless cameras are generally smaller, in Full Frame format the lenses are still going to be large. MFT and APS-C format mirrorless camera lenses can be rather small and lightweight, but are still usually more expensive than lenses for DSLR cameras.
Shop Used Cameras for Lower Prices
I’ve mentioned price concerns a few times already because it’s on the minds of pro photographers too, not simply beginners. One way to offset some of the monetary outlay of our pricey photography equipment is to shop used cameras and lenses.
Especially as a beginner, you will want to stick with reputable sources when looking for used photography cameras for sale. One of my most trusted sources that sell used photography equipment is MPB.
There are a plethora of reasons why I trust MPB so much.
For starters, they offer a 6-month warranty on most items, return privileges in case an item isn’t what you expected, and I appreciate how they approach buying and selling used equipment.
Specifically, they rate these cameras and lenses based on their exhaustive inspection, ensuring you get exactly what you want - a great camera or lens at an awesome price. A lot of the used items in stock are currently in-production equipment or very recently introduced gear.
Cameras Used for Photography - Entry-Level
Entry-level cameras should be easy to use and most beginners want a price that doesn’t stress a budget. Here are three I like that qualify on these counts. Two are APS-C format and one is Full Frame.
Cameras Used for Photography - Intermediate
If DSLR is more your preference, it’s hard to beat the APS-C format Nikon D7100 with the high-performance Nikon 18-140mm DX lens for features, quality, and affordability. You can find almost the same exact camera but in Full Frame format, the Nikon D750 and Nikon 24-120mm zoom lens.
A mirrorless Full Frame prosumer or intermediate level camera such as the Sony Alpha a7R III has a 42.4mp Full Frame sensor and professional level build. It goes well with an all-around zoom lens such as the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DN Art lens.
Cameras Used for Photography - Advanced and Professional
Advanced users or anyone wanting full-fledged professional build and the extra features added to pro-level cameras should look at the DSLR choices in Full Frame format such as the Nikon D4s and Canon EOS 1DX, or the mirrorless Full Frame Nikon Z6, Panasonic DC-S1R, or Sony Alpha a9 II.
For the other formats, in APS-C, look at the Nikon D500, Fujifilm X-T4, and Canon EOS 90D. MFT format pro cameras include the Olympus OM-D E-M1X and Panasonic DMC-GH5S which is also a super high-quality videography camera.
Cameras Used for Photography and Videography
If video is your primary love, then in addition to the Panasonic GH4 and GH5 series of MFT cameras which have become virtually industry standards for videography, you should also take a good hard look at the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema 4K camera with MFT mount.
As you can see, you have a lot of fine options to choose from when shopping for the types of cameras used for photography. All of the options on this short list will be excellent as your first camera or as an upgrade from whatever you’re currently using.