On a Budget: Six Cameras For Natural Light Portrait Photographers

It’s true: any camera these days is capable of taking a great photo–especially with natural light portraits. Natural light portraiture is a staple of today’s professional photography market, and a favorite of those looking to dip their toes into the professional realm thanks to its low barrier of entry with gear beyond the camera and lens. But some do it better than others. In our opinion a key for this style of shooter would be the camera’s dynamic range, ISO performance and AF accuracy.

Today we wanted to look at our top 3 DSLR and top 3 mirrorless cameras that we have reviewed that are currently on the market for the the enthusiast and semi-professional wanting to get into natural light portraits.

Here are our picks…

*also Note, Today is Prime Day, and there are a TON of deals to be had over on Amazon. But many are time sensitive and those are hard to list out here, so, needless to say, head on over to Amazon and check out the available deals. You may be able to save yourself some major cash on that purchase you are already planning on making. 

DSLRs

Canon 6D

Canon EOS 6D

“All-in-all, I actually did really like the 6D. I thought it handled well, had really quite good image quality and impressive low-light focusing abilities. There’s certainly more I liked about it than didn’t and I think it’s a worthy consideration for any Canon shooters looking to go full-frame.”Read our Full Canon 6D Review Here

Pro Tip: The 6D’s best focusing point is the center one. Stop your lens down a bit and use the camera’s wide dynamic range abilities to backlight your subject. Later on, you’ve got loads of flash choices too in case you want to get into strobist work.

Pick up a Canon 6D from Amazon right now and save a cool $200

Lens of Choice: Tamron 85mm f1.8 Di VC USD. Check out our review here.

Nikon D750

Kevin-Lee The Phoblographer Nikon D750 Product Images (2 of 14)

“Other than some quibbles with the partially plastic frame, you’re going to love the Nikon D750 through and through. It follows a long line of professional level Nikon full frame cameras putting all the controls right on the camera body. With better ISO performance and a faster autofocus than the D610, this camera is perfect for photography enthusiast and professional shooters who want more than the barest of essentials of a full frame DSLR.”Read Our Full D750 Review Here

Pro Tip: The enthusiast photographer with a bit more money to spend will appreciate the 24MP full frame sensor’s output on top of the highly accurate autofocus points. On top of all that, it has WiFi transferring abilities to send an image to your phone then put onto Instagram in no time.

Pick up a Nikon D750 from Amazon

Lens of Choice: Nikon 85mm f1.8 G. Check out our review here.

Nikon D500

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D500 product images (3 of 10)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.5

“Though I’m not perfectly 100% sure, I think that the sensor in the D500 can pretty much get the same amount of detail from the highlights that the a6300 and X Pro 2 can. The D500 beats the a6300 at higher ISO settings but is only a bit behind the X Pro 2. They all beat the Canon 7D Mk II, but none of these cameras are any sort of slouch to begin with, and that should be kept in mind here.”Read our Full Nikon D500 Review Here

Pro Tip: Though more targeted at the sports and wildlife crowd, this camera is highly capable in the hands of a photojournalist or those that want to shoot portraits with their nifty 50 lens. The potential from the sensor is also one that is rivaled only by the X Pro 2.

Pick Up a Nikon D500 from Amazon

Lens of choice: Nikon 50mm f1.8 G. Read our review here.

Mirrorless

Fujifilm X-Pro 2

Fujifilm X-Pro 2, 35mm F/2 WR

“Fujifilm has always had the best APS-C sensors, and with the Fujifilm X Pro 2 the camera company sends forth their Gandalf the White for all the Orcs to fear and tremble before. The sensor in this camera performs very well, though I have a feeling that it’s capable of even more.”Read Our Full Fujifilm X-Pro 2 Review Here

Pro Tip: The Fujifilm X Pro 2 has both Astia and Acros film renditions. Both of these were very popular with portrait photographers. So give them a shot.

Grab a Fujifilm X-Pro 2 From Amazon

Lens of choice: Fujifilm 90mm f2. Read our review here.

Sony A7S II

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7s Mk II extra product images (2 of 4)ISO 8001-160 sec at f - 11

“As I was writing this blog post, I thought about not giving this camera the Editor’s Choice award. Afterall, the Sony A7r Mk II has it too; but that’s for its ability to capture incredibly high detail and to deliver very clean high ISO results while having so many megapixels on a full frame sensor. The Sony A7s Mk II is getting it for really great autofocusing, excellent high ISO results but most of all for what the dynamic range is capable or retaining. It’s really, really crazy and I’m not even sure that I would expect that with film.”Read our Full A7S II Review Here

Pro Tip: The Sony a7s II is highly capable and qualified to be the only camera you’ll need once the sun has gone down from the golden hour. But don’t make that an excuse to crank the ISO up into the nuclear realm because you’re still going to get images that look very smudged and lack detail.

Grab a Sony A7S II From Amazon

Lens of choice: Zeiss Batis 85mm f1.8. Read our review here.

Fujifilm X-T10

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm XT10 first impressions (9 of 15)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 4.0

“It’s been a little while since I awarded a camera with an Editor’s Choice Rating due to trying to overhaul evaluations over how camera companies are stepping up their game. The Fujifilm X-T10 really deserves it. By far, this is the best APS-C sensor of any camera in a comparable realm and it shows with the image quality. Fujifilm took a great deal from its award-winning X-T1 and put it in a smaller package for a consumer that can’t reach for fruit as high. The result: a really kick ass camera.”Read Our Full Fujifilm X-T10 Review Here

Pro Tip: One of the best things about the Fujifilm X-T10 are its small size, fast autofocus capabilities, WiFi, and great image quality overall. You can’t go wrong with this camera at all fi you’re on a budget.

Grab an X-T10 from Amazon

Lens of choice: Fujifilm 60mm f2.4. Read our review here.

Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a Portland, Oregon based Boudoir Photographer specializing in a dark, moody style that promotes female body positivity, empowerment, and sexuality. Besides The Phoblographer, he also reviews gear and produces his own educational content on his website.