What The Beginner Photographer Needs.

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.


  • 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”


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.


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 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 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.


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


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.

Photo Entry – 2

Stunning shot, how did you get it?

Well, its a composite. I know im being frowned upon by photographers as we speak for doing this, but above all I am an artist. To me, art is mixing the ideal and the real, and that is what I put forward when I edit my images.

Do you have shame?

As a photographer, yes i do. It sucks knowing this could’ve been an actual moment I captured. Instead, I captured 90% of this moment and it left me with a blank blue sky behind the rock climber. Not entirely ideal for the energy of the rock climber had, so I simply changed the sky.

How did you change the sky?

This one was easy I just used the photo shop select subject tool. Next, I inverted the selection, then deleted and replaced the sky.

Finishing touches?

Last, I cleaned up the sky selection crop and added some gradients to enhance the energy of the image.

Need help learning the basics?

A7iii V.S. A7rii

a7iii camera and a7rii

What Sony camera is right for you?

Let’s jump straight into this RAW. The price difference between these two may be a lens worth, so lets check the facts.


  • A7iii costs $1,900 new. Used EST ~ $1,500.
  • A7rii costs $1,600 new. Used EST ~ $1,100.

You’re thinking “well, I can’t afford either” but we’re window shopping so that doesn’t matter.


Clear, winner here but do megapixels matter to you? I for one loved them until my storage filled up twice as fast. If you invest in a higher megapixel camera, it is taxing on your computer and editing laggy images is not fun. Either set aside the money to upgrade weak computer parts or go for the a7iii.

Do I need the mega pixels?

No. I don’t but im also not you, we’re built different. I enjoy getting my composition correct on camera first. With that being said, if you crop your images a lot, the megapixels might help you keep a lot of your image quality still.

Photography and Videography

This will be the deciding factor for most of you.

Do you run a photography and videography business?

If your career involves you to do both, the better option is the a7iii. Both do 4k but this camera has the specs to pull off video and photo that is the reason I bought it. If I was just a studio or still photographer, I would go with the a7rii because of how cheap it is when compared to the a7iii and the clear advantage it has in photography.

These are the major factors that ultimately led me to sell my a7rii for those curious, I sold it for $1,100. I do not regret it but when I shoot stills; she crosses my mind.

Below are some FAQ:

Q: Best for sports photography?

A: Time is crucial in this area of photography, the a7iii is far superior in focus points and speed.

Q: A7rii a good secondary camera?

A: Yes, I use it often, especially if I knew I was posing subjects for stills.

Have a dirty lens to clean? Check out this post.

i cant afford this

Is the 55mm F/1.8 Zeiss worth the cash?

The Sony 55mm 1.8 Zeiss clocks in around a whopping 1000$ new. If you’re lucky and can wait for a great opportunity, you can find it selling for around 600$ – 800$ used on Facebook marketplace or offer up, just be sure to inspect the lens first. I purchased mine for 600 and it was in perfect condition.

What are you paying for?

The reason this lens is so pricey is simple, in a lot of cases you get what you pay for, this is one of those times. While this lens might not be needed for everyone, those working professionally will appreciate the extreme sharpness and build quality of this lens.

A lens around the 50mm focal range is needed in all camera bags, its the most versatile lens a photographer can own. So, if you could only afford one professional lens, it would make sense to go with the 55mm Zeiss; especially if you’re working professionally.

How’s the low light?

The 55mm 1.8 Zeiss holds up nicely in low light as you expect given its stats. Personally this is one of my favorite lenses for low light shooting and street photography. Previously, the 85mm 1.8 from Sony was my most cherished lens and it still holds a place in my heart for portrait work but recently i have had the 55mm stuck to my a7iii.

55mm 1.8 or the 50mm 1.8?

The big question for most of you is will it be worth it choosing the 55mm over the 50mm, the honest answer is no. Most people can not handle this much power, i mean um, sharpness. If you’re focused on videography the smarter choice would be the 50mm. My photographers will have to weigh out the options.

Are you a hobbyist? Do you want to have at least one high quality lens? Do you work professionally for clients? Do you need a competitive edge?

For most, you will not need this lens. I suggest you rent and try this lens out and decide if you actually need it, if you do head over to the My Gear page and purchase it using my link if you’d like, be sure to check offer up and other used local places first though, we’re all about saving money here.