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recommended gear

Any camera with a manual function where you can set the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO is suitable for Photography Camp 2020's Beyond the Basics Program.

 

However, since the course is on a professional level, you'll gain the most out of it if you have a DSLR camera. I highly recommend that you get a camera where you can change the lens out, as opposed to one that has a set lens.

If you have a camera already, great! Use it!

If you don't, I've compiled a list of suitable cameras for your convenience.

 

Please note: this is not an exhaustive or exclusive list, but just a couple of cameras that are a good value for the money and that I feel would be a great asset to any budding photographer. Also note that you may choose a camera from any company, however, being that I shoot with Canon, that's what I'm most familiar with and most comfortable recommending to others.

Remember, even with the best camera: It's not always about the gear, but about how you use it. When you understand the fundamentals of art and photography, you'll be able to create masterpieces with any camera.

Some of these links are affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission for products your purchase by clicking on these links. It doesn't cost you more, but it may help offset the time and expenses it takes to keep this page alive and updated, so thank you for that :)

I've included 3 types of cameras and lenses in this list:

#1 - Mirrorless Cameras - everybody's new favorite.

Mirrorless cameras have incredible focus tracking and so make getting very sharp images super easy.

I'm including the robust version I currently am using (Canon R5) and the smaller, lighter, cheaper version (Canon RP) that's great value for the price (This is the option I would recommend as first choice if you're starting out). You can pair these with the mirrorless lenses, but being that they're very pricey, I would recommend getting regular ef mount lenses with an ef-rf adapter. (Being that I already had a full range of top-of-the-line ef-mount lenses, that's what I use and it works perfectly for me)

 

#2 - Full-frame cameras with incredible lenses.

(Canon 5D Mark IV or 6D with Sigma Art lenses) - If you know you'll be doing this for business, will print large-format images, and are ready to invest right away, those are for you.

#3 - The cheapest options that will give you good enough results.

(Canon Rebel with 50mm 1.8 lens or 85mm 1.8 lens)

They're great if you're starting on a budget, and good enough to take some paying clients using them, so you can upgrade later on once you know you'll be doing this as a business. 

#1: Mirrorless Cameras:

canon_eos_rp_mirrorless_digital_1550097916_1459282.jpg

Canon EOS RP Mirrorless Camera

From B&H

$999.00

Please visit the link above for full specs and details of this camera.

This camera is a professional quality camera with a full-frame sensor. It's a newer, lighter, cheaper version of the Canon EOS R Mirrorless Camera. The main difference between this and the R are the megapixels (26 vs. 31) and the size and quality of the LCD touchscreen display. Being that this one is almost $800 less, I would say this has huge value. I would recommend this camera as your first choice.

With the cropped-sensor 'beginner' cameras like the Canon Rebels now $750 - $850 (as opposed to $300 - $450 they were going for 2 years ago), I believe starting out with the RP is a better decision and will last you longer in your professional photography career. Pair with the Canon EF - EOS R lens adapter and any of the lenses listed below (If you're starting with only one, I would recommend the 85mm).

canon_eos_r5_mirrorless_digital_1594282826_1547009.jpg

Canon EOS R5 Mirrorless Camera

From B&H

$3899.00

Please visit the link above for full specs and details of this camera.

This camera is a top-tier professional quality camera with a full-frame sensor and the one I currently use. It's the more robust version of the Canon EOS RP Mirrorless Camera. The main difference between this and the RP are the megapixels (45 vs. 26) and the size and quality of the LCD touchscreen display.

If you know for sure you'll want to do professional photography as a career choice, and you'll be printing very large pieces of wall art (like 40x60) then this is a great choice.

Pair with the Canon EF - EOS R lens adapter and any of the lenses listed below (If you're starting with only one, I would recommend the 85mm).

Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R

From B&H

$99.00

Please visit the link above for full specs and details of this camera.

This adaptor lets you mount any EF lens to your mirrorless camera, so you're not limited to the mirrorless lenses.

canon_mount_adapter_ef_rf_1536859268_1433717.jpg

Full-Frame Cameras:

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR Camera (Body Only)

From B&H

$2,699.00

Please visit the link above for full specs and details of this camera.

This camera is a professional quality camera with a full frame sensor. My first main camera is an earlier version of this. Many professional photographers use the 5D cameras, and they're superb, especially the Mark IV. It has incredible ISO sensitivity, amazing focus and quality, and gorgeous color. This is a robust camera with many high-end features that's made it a favorite among photographers for a reason.

 

Pair with any of the lenses below (If you're starting with only one, I would recommend the 85mm)

canon_eos_5d_mark_iv_1561852319_1274705.jpg

Canon EOS 6D Mark II DSLR Camera (Body Only)

From B&H

$1,399.00

Please visit the link above for full specs and details of this camera.

This camera is a professional quality camera with a full frame sensor. My previous main camera (which I now use as backup) is an earlier version of this. 

It's a smaller, lighter, cheaper version of the Canon EOS 5D listed above.

This camera is also a bit smaller and more lightweight than the 5D's, which makes it easier to hold and handle.

Pair with any of the lenses below (If you're starting with only one, I would recommend the 85mm)

My Favorite High-Quality Lenses

Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF

From B&H

$849.00

Please visit the link above for full specs and details of this lens.

This is one of my favorite lenses. 35m lense is a wide angle lens, so each picture you take sees a bit more than your naked eye would see from the same distance. At f1.4, this is considered a fast lens, which means you can blur out the backgrounds beautifully.

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF

From B&H

On special now for $949.00

Please visit the link above for full specs and details of this lens.

50mm lens is a standard lens, and sees more or less as much as your naked eye would see from any given distance. If you're planning to get only one lens to start with, go for this one - you can get full length portraits, landscapes, and close-ups if you move in. At f1.4, this is considered a fast lens, which means it can let in a lot of light, and you can blur out the backgrounds beautifully. There's also a similar lens by Canon (50mm 1.8, see above), but this one is a more expensive lens and is made better, so you'll get sharper images, better color, and less problems with chromatic aberration.

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF

From B&H

$1099.00

Please visit the link above for full specs and details of this lens.

My other favorite lens! (I own the Sigma Art 35mm and the Sigma Art 85mm). 85m lens is a portrait lens. Looking through this lens, you see everything closer than your naked eye would see from the same distance. At f1.4, this is considered a fast lens. Also note, that the longer your lens is, the more it can blur the backgrounds, so you'll get awesome, gorgeous creamy smoothness with this lens. If you're planning on shooting mostly portraits, you might want to consider this as your first lens even if you're only starting with one. You can still take full length portraits with this lens, you'd just have to be standing further back.

Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF

From B&H

$1399.00

Please visit the link above for full specs and details of this lens.

The 135mm lens is a telephoto lens. Looking through this lens, you see everything much closer than your naked eye would see from the same distance. At f1.4, this is considered a fast lens. Because this lens is so long, the backgrounds will be extremely creamy when you shoot with low apertures and so you'll get incredible, gorgeous blurred-out depth-of-field with this lens. (even more than the 85).

 

You'll also have to stand much farther from your subject to get full-length shots, but the final results are so worth it!

sigma_135mm_f_1_8_dg_hsm_1487672415_1321303.jpg

The Cheapest Options that are Good Enough to Start with:

Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR Camera Body

$399 From Amazon

 

(Note that cameras from Amazon may or may not be from licensed sellers so please do your own research. This same camera is pretty hard to find these days on the most popular camera stores like BH, Adorama, and Focus Camera, and when they are available they're in the $700 - $800 range, which would make me much rather go for the Canon RP listed above.

 

This link is an affiliate link, which means I may receive a small commission if you buy this camera through my link.)

Please visit the link above for full specs and details of this camera.

This is a camera body only. Pair with the Canon 50mm f1.8 lens (cheapest one with a nice, low aperture) or one of the other lenses recommended below.

Note that this camera is not a full-frame sensor, but a cropped sensor. What this means is that you're using a smaller canvas to paint your picture on. This can mean more noise (which can make an image look grainy) and slightly less color quality when using your camera in low light situations (like at night, or indoors on a dark day). The Canon Rebel also doesn't have the capability of adjusting the color temperature via kelvin, which makes it frustrating to photographers who want to nail the color straight out of camera.

 

That being said, there are also many pros to cropped sensor cameras. Cropped sensor cameras are usually cheaper than cameras with full-frame sensors, which is why many photographers start out with cameras like these.

You can learn photography and take professional looking images using a cropped sensor camera, and even start taking paying clients if you invest in a good lens.

 

Also, if you love smooth, creamy backgrounds, or a nice bokeh (the little blurry bubbles that happen in the background of some professional images) you can achieve more of it on a cropped frame camera, than with the same lens on a full frame camera. This means you can also get away with cheaper lenses than you would be able to use with a full frame camera.

 

Here are a couple of articles you can read on the difference between cropped and full frame cameras:

Crop vs. Full Frame Cameras - SLR Lounge

https://www.slrlounge.com/workshop/crop-vs-full-frame-cameras/

Is it Time to go Full Frame? Pros and Cons

https://digital-photography-school.com/is-it-time-to-go-full-frame-weight-these-pros-an...

Updated note as of 4/28/22 :

Because of the current situation with inflation, increased demand, decreased supply, and chip shortages, most companies have discontinued their cheaper rebels ($300 - $500 range) and are only producing a very limited supply of the newer cropped sensor cameras (like the Canon Rebel T7i and T8), which make them hard to find and expensive at licensed photo stores Like B&H, Adorama, and Focus Camera. Being that the price of these cameras are now $750 - $850, only about $150 - $250 less than the new full-frame mirrorless Canon RP, which has fantastic focus tracking and better control over the color temp, I'm not sure I would recommend buying a new Rebel anymore.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

From B&H

$125.00

Please visit the link above for full specs and details of this lens.

50mm lens is a standard lens, and sees more or less as much as your naked eye would see from any given distance. Used with a cropped sensor (like the Rebel), it functions more like a portrait lens, meaning you'll see everything a little closer than your eye would see. But that also makes it a fantastic choice for outdoor work.

At f1.8, you'll be able to get those beautiful, creamy backgrounds we all love.

 

 If you're planning to get only one lens to start with, this is the cheapest option that's good enough to start with. It's lightweight, it's versatile, it'll give you a beautiful shallow depth of field, and you can get amazing images with it until you decide which other lens you'd like to add to your collection.

The one con about this lens is that because it's so cheap, it often gets chromatic aberration - which is when edges in an image sometimes show up as green and purple outlines. It usually happens with cheaper lenses in certain lighting situations. It is sometimes fixable in Lightroom or Photoshop, and with an almost $1000 difference between this lens and the higher-quality Sigma art 50m, it's a tradeoff that's worth it for many beginners.

Note: on a cropped sensor camera like the Canon Rebel, this lens will function like an 85mm lens would function on a full-frame sensor, so you'll get the look of a portrait lens for the price of this!

canon50_18.jpg

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Lens

From B&H

$499.00

Please visit the link above for full specs and details of this lens.

This is a cheaper version of the high-end 85mm Sigma Art lens listed above. It's a great lens to start with! I got one when I was starting out in 2013 and actually still use it pretty often!

85m lens is a portrait lens. Looking through this lens, you see everything closer than your naked eye would see from the same distance. At f1.8, this is still considered a fast lens. Also note, the longer your lens is, the more it can blur the backgrounds, so you'll get awesome, gorgeous creamy smoothness with this lens. If you're planning on shooting mostly portraits, you might want to consider this as your first lens even if you're only starting with one. You can still take full-length portraits with this lens, you'd just have to be standing further back.

If you're planning to get only one lens to start with, this is a good, cheap, versatile option, and you can get amazing images with it until you decide which other lens you'd like to add to your collection.

Note: on a cropped sensor camera like the Canon Rebel, this lens will function like an 105mm lens would function on a full-frame sensor, so you'll get the look of a really nice telephoto lens for the price of this! This will help you get really incredible images right off the bat!

Canon_2519A003_85mm_f_1_8_USM_Autofocus_1266925629_12182.jpg

Other Necessities

SanDisk 128GB Extreme PRO SDXC Card

$29.79 From Amazon

 

This is my favorite SD Card. The huge amount of storage means you'll never run out of space during a session, and with shot speads of 90 MB per second and transfer speeds of 170 MB per second, you won't have to wait for it to catch up while you're shooting or backing up your photos.

I would buy at least two so you can swap between sessions.

 

Note: that if you're shooting with a camera that's 25 megapixels or less, a 64GB card may be enough ($16.90, available via the same link).

Large 5-in-1 Pop-Up Reflector

On special now for $30.59 From Amazon

 

Whether you're shooting indoors or outdoors, you'll want a reflector to bounce, reflect and manipulate the light so you can light your subject exactly the way you want it.

What I love about this reflector is that it's large enough to work well, but it's foldable and easy to store and carry.

It has 5 different sides so you can add light, block light, soften light, or reflect the light as needed.

The Coolest Camera Backpack!

On Sale now $47.99 From Amazon

 

Everyone knows you need a camera bag to protect your camera, but what I love is a great camera backpack to protect your back, and keep your hands free while shooting.

This camera backpack comes with multiple compartments for storing your camera and lenses safely and making retrieval super quick and easy.

I love that this one comes in so many great colors and has the coolest leather strap buckle closure. It's pretty as well as functional :)

Spare Batteries and Charger

One thing I always make sure to have in my camera bag is a spare battery. I once ran out of battery during a session... and that was more than enough for me!

This set of two spare batteries and a fast charger will make sure you never run out of battery juice during a shoot..

Just make sure you purchase the battery that matches your camera.