I get asked constantly what camera and lens I recommend for beginners so I thought now would be the perfect time to write an article answering that very question. My first camera was a NikonD90. I shot on that for about a year. It worked fine but I never liked that camera very much. Finally I bought a Sony Alpha A6000 and a 30MM lens from a friend and I've been a Sony fan ever sense. Whenever a new photographer asks me for a recommendation on a starter camera and lens for portrait photography under $700 I always recommend the Sony Alpha A6000 and here's why:
Best camera for Beginners on a Budget
1. The Size
One of my and so many other photographers favorite things about mirrorless cameras and Sony specifically is the size and more specifically how small and compact they are. These babies are so light you can go out and shoot for hours and barely notice its weight around your neck.
Sony offers plenty of smaller prime lenses that keep your kit small and compact without sacrificing image quality, my go to lens for portraits is the Sony 50mm f/1.8 - $348 or the Sony 85mm f/1.8 - $598
Pro tip: When looking for a lens, the lower F stop you can get the more narrow focus you can achieve and more importantly the more light you can bring in to your camera allowing you to shoot portraits in darker situations. The lower the Fstop the higher the price but totally worth it in my opinion.
2. View Finder
My favorite thing about my Sony mirrorless camera is the adjustable electronic viewfinder. Having the ability to preview your images on a larger screen before you take it will not only make your work more consistent but reviewing images with your clients on the spot has never been easier. Probably the biggest perk you get with an electronic viewfinder is getting a realtime preview of what your exposure will be. However there's a caveat, cameras with electric view finders (EVF) typically have significantly shorter battery life compared to cameras with optical viewfinders. So always have extra batteries on hand.
3. Image Quality
When it comes to image quality you will be pressed to find anything this good for this price. Coming from a NikonD90, I can say without a doubt that the Sony sensor trumps the Nikon sensor when it comes to dynamic range and shadow recovery without question.
The SonyA6000 offers unreal resolution at 24.3 mega pixels, dynamic range, and sharpness like you wouldn't believe, especially when coupled with the Sony 50mm f/1.8 - $348 or the Sony 85mm f/1.8 - $598
4. Eye Auto focus
Blurry portraits are a thing of the past thanks to Sony's continuous eye auto focus feature that allows you to get tack-sharp focus on your subjects eye at the push of a button. In good light the SonyA6000 is very accurate and consistent. In low light however it doesn’t work as well and has been known to revert back to facial recognition.
I love this feature because I don't have to focus and recompose my shot or keep adjusting my focus point. You know when it's working because It places a little box around your subjects eye and it will continuously track it as they pose and move around. As someone who likes to shoot at F1.8 this is a must-have feature.
5. Full Manual Control
As someone who shoots in full manual mode 100% of the time I've never understood cameras that only offer partial manual control. The SonyA6000 allows you to be in total control of your ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture so you can get the best results. Of course, if you feel more comfortable shooting in program modes, this camera has those too.
6. The Price
Right now you can get a Sony Alpha a6000 24.3MP Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm OSS Lens, 64GB SD Card, 40.5mm 3-Piece UV, CPL, FLD Filter Kit, 12-inch Spider Tripod, Two Batteries and a Dual Charger Pack, Digital SLR Camera Bag Bundle, and HDMI to Micro HDMI Cable all for just $698!! You wont find a better camera and lens for that price. It's the perfect starter kit and on top of that you could still purchase the Sony 85mm f/1.8 as an extra lens all for around $1,000!! Can't beat that!
1. Low Light Auto Focus
Now that I own a SonyA7iii, I have become accustomed to having great low-light autofocus. When I began using my Sony camera (the A6000) I couldn’t believe how inconsistent it was focusing in low light but I just figured that's what all Sony's were like. But that's not to say you cant still get a great photo in low light, you just have to be patient, take extra photos to be safe and be very still. More on shooting in low light HERE
2. Grain in Low Light with High ISO
Once again now that I own a SonyA7iii, I have become accustomed to having great low-light high ISO with little grain.
I noticed with my SonyA600 I was getting alot of noise in low light situations with my ISO above 500 that I no longer get with my SonyA7iii. I can crank that baby up past 1,200 and still have no grain :)
3. Battery Life
The one thing I will give Sony cameras a lot of shit for are their offensive battery life especially when compared to a DSLR.
Owning over 6 batteries has allowed me to never run out of juice while shooting a wedding or photoshoot, but having to always be aware of the battery life can be annoying. Charging the batteries every night can also become a nuisance, so make sure you own multiple battery chargers as well. For more Free Resources click HERE and make sure to connect with me on Instagram HERE
Author Lance Reis
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