The last photography guide a beginner will need to start, I will cover everything.

  1. Camera Choice
  2. Lens Choice
  3. Mastering Manual Settings

Camera Choice

As a photography beginner camera choice is important, it should not stress you out as a beginning photographer. Your stress is better used in learning manual settings, composition, and lighting. Now that you’re aware of how minimal this decision is, let’s go over some camera brands.

Brands

  • Sony
  • Canon
  • Nikon
  • Fujifilm
  • Olympus
  • Panasonic
  • Pentax
  • Leica

To further simplify this beginner photography guide, currently, I recommend looking into Sony cameras. Sony has worked hard to create cameras in every budget range. Depending on your budget you could start at an entry level full frame camera or a crop sensor, which is less expensive and still can produce quality photos.

If you already have a camera, start learning with that one! Even if you have an iPhone, you can still learn the photography basics.

Recommended Camera Builds

“The best camera is the one you’re comfortable with”

-Russpixs

Eager Beginner

For the eager beginner photographer, we should keep this cheap and of excellent quality. That’s why I will recommend an ASPC camera rather than a full frame. Personally, I think the A6000 by Sony is of exceptional quality and the sensor is the same in all the newer models. Yes, the camera is old, but you can get very far with this setup.

The Build

The Entry Level Professional

You’re still a beginner photographer but you’re aware, this is the path for you, welcome, or if you’re the college student like I was and the teacher is making you purchase a camera for the course, here is my recommendation. You’re going to want a full frame camera without a doubt. The advantage full frame has is not huge, but this is a competitive field and as a professional everyone shoots full frame. Going full frame will save you the money if you’re a professional, you will upgrade eventually, anyway.

The Build

Buying a Used Camera

You’re a beginner photographer and you’re not rich? oh, okay. Welcome to the clearence section, ladies and gentlemen. Used gear is scary, I know, I was hesitant to purchase my first piece of used gear but since then I’ve had nothing but good transactions. I complete every transaction in person at a local bank parking lot (lots of cameras), you can find used gear on Facebook marketplace or apps like offer up, but there are some rules for buying used gear.

The Used Gear Rules

  • Camera Sensor
  • Shutter Count

Camera Sensor

When buying a camera you have to check out the camera’s sensor visually by looking at it, then testing it by taking a photo of the sky at F11 this will show any imperfections of the sensor, most cameras will just have some spots that’re caused from dust that’s okay. If they broke the sensor, you will know, don’t worry.

Shutter Count

What’s the shutter count? shutter count is a lot like miles on a car, it shows you how many times the shutter has opened and closed, in human terms the shutter count is how many photos they have taken with the camera. They rate Sony cameras to have a shutter life of 200,000 – 500,000. Crazy amount of photos, but it’s worth asking sometimes.

If you already bought a used camera, that’s okay you can check the shutter count using this free tool. Last, do not stress about the shutter count this is just the rating for when the shutter might give out cameras exceed the rating and still work some do not.

Camer Choice: Recap

Again as a beginner photographer, do not stress about camera choice it is not the success of your career that this depends on what camera you choose but what you capture using that camera. For the entry-level professional lens choice is more important than camera choice. Camera bodies depreciate over time, lenses usually hold their value.

Lens Choice

Arguably more important than your camera choice is lens choice, remember bodies depreciate glass holds most of its value. Now, before you choose your glass, let’s go over something’s to consider.

  • What are Prime and Zoom lenses
  • Should I buy a prime or a zoom?
  • The advantages of these lenses
  • Focal Length
  • F-stop

Prime or Zoom

What’s a prime and zoom lens?

A prime is a lens of a fixed focal length, an example of that would be a 50mm lens, you’re not able to zoom with this lens. A zoom is the opposite of a prime, usually covering a range of focal lengths, such as a 24-70mm, thus, allowing you to zoom.

Should I buy a prime or a zoom?

This question has been around since the dawn of man, I still think of this at night. However, before we answer this question, let’s answer a few others, what type of photography will you be doing most. Photographers that do a lot of travel seem to prefer a single zoom lens compared to three prime lenses in the same focal length. However, if I know im going to be shooting portraits, I bring my two primes i know i will need.

The advantages of a zoom

Zoom lenses have the benefit of being the “all in one” tool. If I was going to a photography job and I was unaware of the tool, I would need for the job. The zoom lens would be a safe tool to bring. However, by being a versatile tool, zooms lack in image quality when compared to primes.

The advantages of a prime

Prime lenses have the benefit of being faster in terms of aperture and better in image quality. However, they lack the zoom function this can make you less versatile at things such as events.

Focal Length

  • Wide angle
  • Telephoto
  • Standard

Focal length is important to learn luckily it’s very easy to learn as well. In short, focal length is the distance you will be from the subject to take a photo. For example, a 20mm lens is a wide-angle lens. While ideal for architecture, photography or landscapes, it’s not flattering for up-close headshots.

To be completely honest, showing you the difference in these lenses is easier shown then explained, I will update down below with pictures to further explain.

Wide 20mm:

Standard 55mm:

Telephoto 85mm:

Telephoto 105mm:

What do focal ranges do?

Other than changing your perspective of your subject as shown above, telephoto lenses cause compression. Compression is really flatters your subjects and really flattens the subject against the background.

F-Stop

You more than likely are wondering what this is. In short, F-stop controls the amount of light your lens lets in. People refer to lenses with a low F-stop as “fast” lenses. F-stop is the lowest your aperture can go, it’s displayed next to your focal length so people will commonly say things such as the Sony 20mm F1.8 or the Sigma 105mm F1.4.

The lower the “F” number, the more light the lens lets in. Lenses with a low F-stop are more sought after because of the low light capabilities and the “bokeh” these lenses create. They’re also more expensive, sadly. F-stop also controls your depth of field, I explain it in the video below and here.

What’s Aperture?
What’s “Bokeh”?

Bokeh is a term used to describe the buttery goodness lenses produce, also known as background blur. For example, look at the background of this image.

Russ’s Reccomendation

For your first lens i reccomend a 24-70 zoom or a 50mm prime. The 24-70 will cover the range needed for most photographs. The 50mm is a great prime for any photography niche you decide to try! (You can film an entire movie using just a 50mm) might try this, actually…

Lens choice recap

Lens choice is very important, quality glass is worth the cash. Know the difference between a zoom and a prime. Know what focal range works best for the subject of your photograph. Don’t just invest in lenses, invest in maintaining the quality here.

Mastering Manual Settings

The most important part of this article is this section. I will touch on it briefly and super easy to understand. If you would like more depth on this, I suggest you view my original explanation here: Mastering Manual Settings.

  • Exposure
  • Aperture
  • Shutter Speed
  • ISO

Exposure

Exposure refers to the highlights and shadows in your image. There are three types of exposure.

  • Over Exposed
  • Under Exposed
  • Properly Exposed

Over Exposed

If your image is too bright to the point, you lose a lot of detail, your image is over exposed.

Under Exposed

If your image is too dark to the point, you lose a lot of detail, your image is under exposed.

Properly Exposed

If your image maintains the detail in the highlights & shadows, your image is properly exposed.

Aperture

Aperture controls two things, the amount of light let in the image and the depth of field.

Depth of Field

There are two types of Depth of Field (lol)

  • Deep Depth of Field
  • Shallow Depth of Field
Deep Depth of Field

There are two types of deep depth…. Na, im just playing. Deep depth of field refers to when your aperture is F11 or above and everything is in focus.

Shallow Depth of field

Shallow depth of field refers to when your aperture is below F6 and parts of your image are out of focus creating “bokeh”.

By adjusting your Depth of Field, you’re also adjusting the amount of light you let into your image. The lower the F-stop, the more light let in, the higher, the less let in.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed controls two things, motion blur and the amount of light let in.

  • Motion Blur
Motion Blur

This shows camera shake. If you have a slow shutter speed such as 1/25, you can capture motion within your image, such as an athlete. If you have a fast shutter speed such as 1/1000, you can capture that same marathon runner, but now it looks like they’re frozen in midair and extremely sharp.

Similar to Aperture, the lower the shutter speed number, the more light let into your image. The faster the shutter speed number, the less light let into your image.

ISO

I have no clue what this stands for, but it controls the light in your image and noise.

Noise

Noise is the product of raising your ISO, if extremely high your image will appear grainy.

The lower the ISO the sharper your image will be, the higher your ISO the more noisy your image will be.

Recap

Choose a camera, then a lens. Learn manual settings, follow my blog, get happy and create content..

What camera should I buy?

Full frame camera if you’re going to be a professional. ASPC camera if you’re a hobbyist.

What does aperture do?

Aperture controls your depth of field. In additon, the lower your aperture, the more light let in and the less in focus. Similarly, the higher your aperture the less light let in and the more in focus you will have in your image.

What should I learn first to improve my photography?

Learn manual settings and focus on one focal length along with what you can photograph given your current tools.

Does photography gear matter?

Yes, this is a competitive field, to stand out anything will help you. However, skill vastly outranks gear any day.

Will A.I. takeover photography?

Not soon or the near future, for now they are just helping us in post processing, but someday yes.

I post short form content on my Instagram for those of you who can not sit still for an entire article! Have a wonderful day, guys.

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