What Camera Should You Buy?

There are several responsibilities unknowingly inherited when we are a self-proclaimed or professional videographer or photographer. We get to fix our Uncle's laptop, teach friends how to use the prosumer level camera they got for Christmas (they swear they will take a class some day!) and ultimately, we are relied upon to provide our input as to what camera someone should buy.

There is no magic camera that will be truly intuitive for everyone in every situation. It's just not possible. Cameras are extremely technical devices, with lots of math and light manipulation going on inside a small piece of tech.

I'm always being asked about what camera, or even lens I recommend. In turn, I always pose the same questions back:

What kind of photos are you shooting?
Will it be used primarily for stills or video?
Do you need to print these photos or will they just go online?
How much money are you looking to spend?


Even with the varied answers I get, I will generally end up with 1 suggestion out of about 3 possible outcomes. So here they are:

Still or Video Camera kit recommendation for quality images on a budget

Small DSLR with lens,  and 16GB memory card: Canon T5 kit
Cheap but useful prime lens: Canon 50mm 1.8
Basic tripod: Manfrotto 293 with ball head
Small bag to carry everything: LowePro Slingshot 102

Total Cost: about $800


Got a bit more of a budget and want to get pro-level gear to get started? Hell yeah! Here's my still Camera kit recommendation for "going pro."

Full frame DSLR: Canon 5Dmiii
Wide lens: Canon 16-35mm f2.8L II 
Mid-range: Canon 24-70mm f2.8L II
Telephoto: Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS
Great tripod: Induro CT213
Camera Backpack: LowePro Pro Runner 450

Total Cost: about $10,000


For the video shooter, who perhaps has done a bit of work with a DSLR or small video-only system, here's my video DSLR kit recommendation for a mid-level budget.

Video camera body: Panasonic GH4
Metabones Speedbooseter Lens Adapter (if you already own Canon lenses, this is a must have!)
Cheap lens: Lumix G Vario 14-42mm
Better, more expensive lens: Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f2.8
Tripod legs: 3 Legged Thing's BRIAN
Video tripod head: Manfrotto MVH500AH
Lastly, a small bag to carry it around like the LowePro Photo Sport 200 - no affiliate

Total Cost: about $4,000

Accessory must haves for still camera kits

Tamrac camera strap
5-in-1 Reflector
Circular Polarizer Filter
Spare batteries

Accessory must haves for DSLR video camera kits

Rode Videomic Pro
Zoom H1 Audio Recorder
Decent Headphones
Eyepiece for the LCD, like an LCDVF
Edelkrone Slider

So there you have it. With how fast technology is changing, most of this list will be outdated within 6 months of me publishing it :-) I guess that's just how it goes.

Two last things: 1. If you have questions on a piece of gear for a particular job or use, just send me an email. I usually reply to those! 2. You may have noticed that most if not all of the links above go to B&H Photo. If you click on my links above there is a piece of code that gives me a small kickback from any purchases you make, so feel free to help me out! Writing articles like this one do take time, and I'm not compensated in any way for it.