The 5 Best First Cameras for the Seriously Passionate Photographer

The world of passionate photography can be confusing, but these first cameras will help.

Everyone remembers when they decided to get their first camera. It was a very confusing time for them. Some folks do a lot of research while others just wing it. Well, we’ve got good news. Through the years, we’ve tested lots of cameras. Some are clearly not meant for newbies. And best of all, you don’t need to spend many thousands of dollars to get a good one or professional image quality. So you can do a grab job and impress all your friends at a fraction of the price. We’ve rounded up some of the best first cameras that any and every passionate photographer should get their hands on. Best of all, we’ve only selected the cameras that we’ve tested. So the advice comes to you from personalized experience.

Canon Rebel T7i: The Best First Camera for Those Not Sure

Why It’s a Great First Camera: The Canon Rebel T7 is a camera quite literally designed for beginners. Frankly speaking, it has everything someone would need or want to start out with. This generation of Canon sensors and processors is good enough for most applications. Theoretically, you could leave it in auto and shoot with it all day and night. There are stories of how amazingly durable these things are. But watch out; they’re not weather sealed.

In our review, we state:

“Beyond the dials for controlling parameters like the ISO and shutter speed you’ll need to remember the Av button to change the aperture of the lens. But otherwise, Canon’s best feature continues to be its menu system, which dominates a lot of the rest.”

Buy Now: $799

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Canon EOS M50: The Best First Camera for Hybrid Shooting

eos m50

Why It’s a Great First Camera: The Canon EOS M50 is a fun camera. With a giant touchscreen on the back, you can do mostly everything you need. But the lack of direct controls can be a bit annoying. If you’re a photographer who just likes shooting in aperture or program mode, you’ll love this. And that’s a big reason why it’s so good for a newbie.

In our review, we state:

“The Canon M50 has fantastic ease of use due to clearly labelled buttons and a fantastic menu system. Canon’s menu system combined with its touch capabilities make it a great camera to use if you’re into the more automatic settings. The moment that it comes to being more manual and moving past aperture priority/shutter priority things start to fall apart. You’ll need to press this button, then turn that dial, then to control the other variable you need to scroll over–it’s pretty annoying. It’s almost like Canon designed this camera to be shot mostly in automatic mode.”

Buy Now: $649

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camera deals

Pro Tip: ALWAYS use camera and lens mount covers! One of the worst things you can do is unscrew the camera lens and put the lens and camera both in their own jacket pockets.

Sony a7 III: The Best First Camera for Candids

Why It’s a Great First Camera: The Sony a7 III launched a few years ago. The company called it the “Basic Camera” when it was announced. But the truth is that it’s good enough for all walks of passionate photographers. It has enough speed, autofocus reliability, and weather sealing to tackle what most people do. Better yet, the image quality is pretty decent.

In our review, we state:

“The Sony A7 III is pretty simple to use if you’re experienced with Sony products. The menu system is almost identical to that of the Sony a7r III and doesn’t confuse at all – if you’re used to it. With that said, your first 30 minutes or so with the camera will be all about customizing the buttons to do what you want. Sony gave the Sony A7 III a touchscreen and for the life of me I don’t understand why they don’t allow photographers to be able to navigate through their menu system with a few touches of said screen.”

Buy Now: $1,998

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Sony a6100: The Best First Camera for Anything

Why It’s a Great First Camera: The Sony a6100 is one of the most perfect cameras you can give to a new photographer. It’s small, has decent autofocus, and can keep up with everyday life. We were all in shock when Sony released this camera. It’s the equivalent of giving a Toyota Camry the features of a Lexus and charging slightly less than a standard Camry.

In our review, we state:

“One nice touch is that, as the user turns the mode select wheel, there are splash screens that indicate what each mode can be used for. That’s pretty cool, but as user-friendly as Sony gets when it comes to menus. Other head-scratchers include no touch-control while in the menu system and the lack of three dedicated controls for exposure. There really needs to be a shutter speed dial in the grip. Little things like this go a long way.”

Buy Now: $848

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Canon EOS R6: The Best First Camera for Night Photography

Why It’s a Great First Camera: The Canon EOS R6 is the mirrorless digital version of the Canon 6D series. And this lineup is incredible. The performance is low light floored as, as did the versatility of the RAW files in post-production. Most importantly, the build quality was able to keep up with our daily tests. And the icing on the cake is that we were able to shoot a handheld shot to a few seconds with no visible camera shake.

In our review, we state:

“The in-body image stabilization in the Canon EOS R6 is very impressive, and it makes using this camera incredibly easy, especially in low light situations. Canon’s IBIS systems work differently depending on the lens you use. Each lens gives varying degrees of stops, which can be as high as eight stops. I used the 15-35mm f2.8 L IS USM and was able to handhold the camera for six seconds. This enabled me to get astrophotography shots handheld.”

Buy Now: $2,899

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.