Jaron Schneidor from Resource Mag Online posted a new article about beginners wanting to get into digital imaging (i.e. photography) where he’ll recommend the reader a camera that will last at least 3-5 years and warning people to avoid kit lenses since they’re not very good and you’ll most likely not use them anymore after your first year of ownership.
One quote from his post will be something most people will ask themselves before they go shopping:
Here is the other thing: you will likely stick with whatever company you pick right now. Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji… you’ll decide on a format, invest in lenses, and then always stay with that company because of that investment.
Then he breaks it down by each company’s philosophy:
Company philosophy: “Give the people everything, then throw in the kitchen sink.”
Summary: Small, lots of features that look excellent on paper, mirrorless. Sony is on the up, with new equipment being released quickly and steadily. Sony also makes the sensors for many of their competitors, giving them an edge up when it comes to the technology standpoint.
- Pros: Small, easy to use, and always come packed with features and options (many you will never use). Great ISO performance compared to competition
- Cons: Lackluster battery life. Mixed bag when it comes to autofocus reliability. Sony upgrades equipment way too frequently. Real-world use of the tons of features is hit or miss. Complaints about their repairs/service team have been unpleasant and widespread.
His recommend camera for beginners by Sony? SONY A6500
I’ll have to disagree with his choice since the price for the body of this camera alone will scare away all but the most adventurous enthusiasts, but he brings up a few good points:
It also has what I think is the most advanced mirrorless autofocus system out there, which means that even though it’s not perfect, it’s the best and most accurate autofocus you can get on a mirrorless camera. This is a totally solid choice, and though more expensive than the other options I am going to recommend, it’s probably going to last a while and you will likely grow to love it.
The downside? You’re going to see this camera upgraded at least three times before you’re ready to get a new body. Sony has an absolutely annoying habit of upgrading their mid-level cameras at a wicked pace. The a6300 wasn’t even a year old yet before the a6500 was released this year, much to chagrin of Sony fans. If you can take the pain of watching your camera quickly become outdated though, this won’t bother you much.
Then we move to Canon with this excerpt:
Company philosophy: “We know what you want better than you do.”
Summary: Solid, quality DSLRs that have been the hallmark of beginners for the last 20 years. They are most loved for their prime lenses (lenses that don’t zoom), as they have a “look” to them that is unique.
- Pros: Very easy to use (easiest of all those shown here), and the buttons and feature layouts don’t change much from the lowest-end camera to the top of the line piece. Good battery life. Cheap and quality lenses to choose from. Really good repairs/service program, arguably the best.
- Cons: Tend to be a bit light on features (no matter the camera). ISO performance is average-to-weak compared to competition. Company is slow-moving.
With this, he recommends the Canon EOS Rebel T6s
The Rebel series has been the go-to, solid option for beginners for years now and that hasn’t changed. My first digital SLR was a Rebel, and that camera sustained me for years as I learned the “what” and “why” of photography. The T6s makes very few advances in technology compared to its predecessors, but that’s likely because it doesn’t have to. It does a very solid job of being a very able-bodied camera, and it will be able to do most of what you as a beginner will ask of it. It doesn’t fire nearly as fast as the a6500 (but why would you need it to, honestly), and it doesn’t have the clarity and “look” to its images that Fuji offers. But… it’s not expensive, it’s solid, and it is a great way to get to know DSLRs.
Canon tends to upgrade the Rebel series once a year to a year and a half, but rarely to a degree where you’re going to feel like you’re missing out. You most certainly will want a new camera by about year three with this one, but luckily for you, nabbing a ridiculously cheap and quality 50mm f/1.8 (it’s $125) or the 35mm f/2 ($550) with your Rebel means you’ll be taking those great lenses with you when you upgrade.
Unfortunately, Canon is a very slow-moving company. It took far too long to get the 5D Mark IV professional camera that was released last year, and even that disappointed many Canon faithful.
Fellow Nikonians may agree or disagree with his next choice:
Company Philosophy: “Get it right the second time.”
Summary: Very solid DSLRs that excel at autofocus accuracy and whose sensors love the greens and blues.
- Pros: More settings and customizable features. Great battery life. Excellent telephoto lenses. Outstanding autofocus and autofocus specificity.
- Cons: Heavier bodies, more complicated settings and buttons.
The D3400 is a decent camera with decent features, but it’s a camera you’ll likely grow out of very quickly.
This is true since this is Nikon’s newest entry-level DSLR and you’ll more than likely want to move up to something like the D5600 or the D7200.
The D7200 will have the longest lifespan for a new photographer, but it’s also locked behind a much higher pay wall than the D3400, which might as well be free with that $500 price point. It’s also a better camera than the aforementioned $550 a6000, so if you plan to spend this small amount, you don’t have a better option.
The D7200 will be a solid choice for the upcoming photographer if the higher price doesn’t scare him or her away first, but you will more likely keep this in your bag far longer than the D3400.
Not to say the D3400 is a bad camera, but it has no future with you as your experience grows:
So with that all said, you will probably want to go with the D3400 if you want to live life with Nikon. It might only last you a couple years (the shortest life span of any camera I have recommended here), but with such a low barrier to entry (and a free lens since you can’t buy this thing body-only) you probably won’t have a big problem buying a much nicer Nikon when you’re ready to upgrade. Bear in mind though, the resale value of this camera will be basically $0.
Now for the photography hipsters:
Company Philosophy: “All hail the golden age of film.”
Summary: Exceptional mirrorless cameras that defy logic with great autofocus, beautiful image rendition and great battery life.
- Pros: Great battery life. Totally unique quality of images. Great focusing. Small size and weight.
- Cons: Their X-trans sensors are all APS-C, meaning you don’t get the benefit of larger sensors even on their top-tier offerings. Lenses can be expensive, as generally only Fuji makes them. Not particularly ergonomic.
What did he recommend as your first Fuji camera? The Fuji X-E2s
You will likely be very happy with the X-E2S for many years, and given that Fuji takes their small size seriously (both their bodies and lenses are tiny, in contrast with Sony who is making some rather large lenses these days), this is a great traveler’s camera manufacturer. All their bodies are small, compact and easily stowed, as are most of their lenses. It’s hard to describe the “look” you get with Fuji cameras, but it’s really unique. They decided to build a digital sensor to mimic film as much as possible, and fans will say they did a damn fine job. This is the only digital company to attempt something like this, and their body design and aesthetic are outward trappings of inward philosophy.
And now the last on the list:
Company Philosophy: “Stabilize all the things.”
Summary: Some of the best dynamic range (which means detail in both highlights and shadows) of any mirrorless, with a compact and retro design.
- Pros: Surprisingly crisp and detailed images. Image stabilization on the sensor, meaning you don’t have to rely on lenses to have it. Lightweight. Lots of lens options from various manufacturers.
- Cons: Average battery life. Poor video performance. Fewer megapixels than the competition.
If you’re ok with going with a smaller sensor (in this case, a Micro 4/3), then there is no better camera than the Olympus OM-D EM-10
The OM-D EM-10 is outstanding, and it’s not much more expensive than the PEN series, which is designed to be just slightly more than a point and shoot. If you have to pick, I’d of course recommend the OM-D over the PEN thanks to a more advanced sensor and 5-axis image stabilization over the PEN’s 3-axis. Images are crisp, ISO performance is surprisingly good despite the tiny sensor size, and the camera rewards even shaky hands thanks to excellent in-body stabilization.
I agree with most of his picks (don’t agree with the A6500 due to the price) but this should be more than enough opinion for each manufacturer to get the budding photographer started.
You can read the rest here