What’s a good “starter” DSLR?

As a professional photographer, on a regular basis, I get asked “what’s a good “starter” DSLR?”

Most people follow this question by saying “I have NO IDEA what I’m looking for!”

Remember, NOTHING substitutes a professional photographer’ services. 🙂  But in the case of wanting a solid camera for family memories, here’s my answer: I’m a Canon girl.  While I never had a Canon Rebel, the Rebel series is Canon’s introductory DSLR system.

There are three “levels” of Canon camera bodies:

I would consider the Rebel series a HOBBYIST camera.  It is NOT for professionals.  If you sell your images, even for a nominal fee, I urge you to at least look at the pro-sumer level DSLRS.

As of today, Canon has Rebels (with a kit lens) ranging from $549-$899.  Remember this is not your total investment. As a hobbyist, you will probably want more than one lens,  but a kit lens is ok to start with. You will need CF cards, an extra battery, a camera bag, and beginner editing software (like Adobe Elements).  I have personally never used Adobe Elements – I went to school for computer graphics, so I have always used the full-blown version of Photoshop.

As of today, Canon’s pro-sumer series ranges from $999-$1699.

As of today, Canon’s professional series ranges from $2499-$6999.

Hope this helps!

Please leave a comment below & share with your friends. All comments await my moderation.

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Nicole H. - April 20, 2011 - 1:00 pm

Not to sound rude, but I find this post somewhat offensive. I use a Canon Rebel, and with the right lenses it produces images every bit as good quality as pro-sumer and professional grade camera images I’ve seen, for the most part. I shoot weddings and childrens portraits with my Rebel, and my clients have never been dissapointed in the images they receive. I believe the true quality of a photograph is in the person behind the camera. A good photographer can make a photograph from even the simplest camera look like a masterpiece, this being said, while the Rebel may be a hobbyist camera, per say, I don’t agree with your saying that it can’t produce professional images, or that photographers seeking to make money for their images shouldn’t use them.

Heather - April 20, 2011 - 2:42 pm

Hi Nicole,
I appreciate your opinion but respectfully disagree. 🙂
Going full-frame is a HUGE improvement and being able to vamp up the ISO for dark church ceremonies is something a good lens can’t comp for. The 5D Mark II’s ISO is expandable to 25,600. 6400 is VERY nice for shooting at the back of a church without a flash. Again, I’ve never shot with a Rebel, but I believe the ISO goes to 3200 but is pretty grainy maxed out.
I absolutely agree that the artist makes the art – but the other part of the equation is tools to create the art. 🙂

Nicole H. - April 21, 2011 - 1:21 pm

Your probably right, I’m simply saying that for those who cannot yet afford Professional or Pro-Sumer DSLR’s, the Rebel is an affordable starter camera, for both amateurs and professionals in my opinion. Saying you have to have the right cameras or lenses, etc, is like saying you can’t cook unless you use only the best utensils, or that you can’t be a painter unless you buy the finest paints and canvases the market has to offer. Your right in saying that those DSLR’s are better, but I disagree with your opinion that you shouldn’t pursure a professional career unless you use those specific cameras. The beauty of our career is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Please don’t take this the wrong way, I highly respect your opinion as well as your work. 🙂
-Nicole

Nicole H. - April 21, 2011 - 1:34 pm

Regarding ISO, you’re right, the Rebel isn’t great for shooting weddings, however I don’t frequently shoot weddings so that hasn’t affected me. (Sorry to post another comment, this was an after-thought)

jake - May 11, 2013 - 10:08 pm

I think your blog is great and you should definitely post more photography related posts soon!

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