How To Choose The Best Entry-Level DSLR | FAQ

July 16, 2015

Which camera should I buy?

I get asked this question all the time. I understand how the search can be daunting with all the choices out there. I felt the same way when I was buying my first DSLR. I didn’t know which brands to consider, what camera details mattered, and what I should be looking for or thinking about.





Do you often feel like you wanted to take a picture a certain way and your camera wouldn’t let you? The focus was not on what you wanted or the picture didn’t look like what you imagined? These are signs you’ve outgrown a point and shoot camera and should consider moving up to a DSLR.

In general, using a DSLR is the best way to take better pictures: not because the camera itself can magically take better photos, but because a DSLR gives you the ability to control the things that are going to make the biggest difference in your photography. It will be able to freeze motion, which is obviously a big deal for photographing children. Using the right lens on a DSLR allows you to choose what is in focus and what is not, which one of the best ways to create a pleasing portrait. It has a larger sensor, which means your images can be sharper, more detailed, and higher quality than anything a point and shoot can produce.

Please understand that a DSLR is a creative tool, and not a magic fix for your photos. There is a bit of a learning curve, and not all your photos will look amazing if you stay on automatic all the time. A DSLR will produce sharper pictures, even on automatic, but at some point you’re going to have to learn how to use that expensive camera if you want to take the pictures you’ve been hoping for.

If you are a beginner in the DSLR world, and have no idea what aperture or shutter speed is, I suggest you get a camera that has automatic mode and some good scene settings. You’re pictures will be noticeably better, mostly because they’ll be sharper and have more contrast than what your point and shoot could capture.  They will become MUCH better when you get better at understanding your camera’s capabilities.  When you’re ready, explore aperture mode, and work your way into shooting in full manual.

Some things you should think about:

1. What do you plan to use your DSLR for?

What types of photos will you be taking? Where will you be using your camera?

Most cameras have similar capabilities that will cover a general range of situations, but you should know if you plan to take mostly landscape photos outside or if most of your photos will be of your kids inside your house.

This determines factors like how it handles low light and your lens choices.

2. What is your budget?

There are cameras that span a very wide range of price points, from around $500 all the way up to$7,000 and beyond!

Most entry level cameras will range between $500-$1300.

By knowing how much you can spend, you’ll know which level of camera you can consider.  That being said…don’t buy too much camera for your needs.



Nikon D3300  DSLR with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VRII Zoom Lens



Details of this camera:

  • 24.1 Megapixels
  • ISO up to 25,600
  • HD Video
  • 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VRII Lens Included  <– a great starter lens.



Canon Rebel T5i DSLR with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens


Details of this camera:

  • 18 Megapixels
  • ISO up to 12,800
  • HD Video
  • 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens Included  <– a great starter lens.


If you have any desire to take pictures inside your house—and let’s face it, your kids will be cute inside too—then your simply must get yourself a lens that can handle indoor lighting!  Plan the cost of a fast prime lens into your initial camera purchase. You won’t regret it! The one I recommend you start with is a 50mm fixed lens, [it doesn’t zoom, you have to use your feet instead] and gives you MUCH more indoor shooting ability to create amazing portraits.  You can purchase both online at

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These lenses will definitely NOT add a lot to your grand total.  The Nikon is $131 and Canon $110.

Happy shopping and happy shooting 🙂  Let me know if you have any questions.  I will also do another post in the future about great mid-range options.

Thank you for stopping by!


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I'm Lisa! Brand, commercial & portrait photographer based in Greenville, SC. Take a moment and browse the blog as well as my portfolio.  
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