Tips for Buying Your First DSLR

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So you’re thinking about buying your first DSLR?  Congratulations!  That is a huge investment but one that I think is well worth it.  I’m obviously a little biased since I think my camera is the best thing since sliced bread, but, I digress…

Before you buy your first DSLR, ask yourself what's important to you and what you need/want out of your first camera. Plus a few other important questions!

Buying your very first SLR is a big decision and one that you should be excited about if you’ve decided to take that step!  When I bought my first camera it was not a decision I took lightly and I took a lot of time to think about it and make sure I was making the best decision I could!  Chris and I talked about it for months, looked up specs on different cameras, went to the store to check them out, and talked about it some more.  He wanted to make sure I got exactly what I wanted, but also that I got a great deal.

There are so many things to think about before purchasing your camera that the idea of all of it can be completely overwhelming.  So I’m breaking it down to the things I think are most important for you!

Before you buy your first DSLR, ask yourself what's important to you and what you need/want out of your first camera. Plus a few other important questions!

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Four things to think about before buying your camera…

Canon vs. Nikon

There is a huge discussion among photographers about which is the better model: Nikon or Canon. Honestly, I can’t tell you which one is better because I believe that it’s all personal preference.  The best way to figure out which type of camera is right for you is to go to the store and test them out.  One of the reasons I went with my Nikon was because it just felt better in my small hands.  It was easy for me to hold on to and get to all the buttons, something I never would have known if I hadn’t gone into the store!

What is your budget?

This question may seem like a no-brainer, but depending on what you want to spend really affects how beginner/more professional you can go with your camera!  A beginner camera like my Nikon d3200 runs about $500, less if you decide to not get the bundle!  But if you want to get a nicer and more intermediate camera a Nikon D7100 runs about $900 for just the body, no lenses included!

Speaking of budget…more expensive does not mean better photos

Don’t be fooled into thinking that buying the more expensive camera will mean that the pictures will be better.  You still have to put in the time and effort to learn the camera settings as well as time in learning how to post-process your photos.  Something you have to do no matter how much your camera costs!  A lot of people want the big fancy camera because they think it takes such good photos, they just don’t realize how much time and effort goes into getting the pictures to that end result.

[Tweet “A more expensive DSLR will not give you better photos than a beginner model.  Here’s why…”]

What will you use your camera for?

When I bought my camera, I knew the two things I wanted to use it for were Disney and blog photos.  That directly affected which lenses I initially bought so this question is another important one to consider!  If you want to take pictures of your children a prime lens (like the 50mm or 35mm) would be perfect for you, and a telephoto (or zoom) lens is perfect for sports, action, and wildlife photography.

If you’re a blogger, here are the lenses I would suggest:

Before you buy your first DSLR, ask yourself what's important to you and what you need/want out of your first camera. Plus a few other important questions!

  • 35mm lens: this lens allows you to stand back from you subject and get more in the picture because it’s a wider lens.  This is the lens I use for 90% of my own blog photography.
  • 50mm lens:  this lens is very similar to the 35mm, the only difference is that it gets you a little closer-in to your subject so you won’t get as much in your frame.  It’s also about $100 cheaper than the 35mm.
  • 85mm lens:  best for portrait photography (wedding photographers love this lens!) this will give you a closer-in shot but it is a great lens to get loads of detail in your shots.
  • 100mm lens:  great lens for food photography because it allows you to stand back from your subject while still being able to get in close and capture every delicious detail.

To be honest, if I had done more research about what lenses I could get with my camera initially, I probably would not have gotten my kit lens.  I don’t use it at all anymore because the picture quality on it isn’t as good as it is when I use my 35mm.  Now, that’s not to say it wasn’t a good lens to learn with but I still kind of feel bad that I own a lens I no longer use!

So, before you go out and buy that new camera you’ve dreamed of I really do encourage you to do a ton of research.  A DSLR is a big purchase but one you will be so happy with!

If you’ve invested in a DSLR, what is one thing you did before purchasing your camera?

Read up on my tips for Learning to Use your DSLR (part two of this series) here!

Want more photography?  Check out these posts!

There are a lot of things I wish I had known when I was first starting out as a new photographer, and I was quickly reminded that I'm not as smart as I thought I was. Come find out what I wish I had known when I was first starting out!What I Wish I Knew as a New Photographer

Three of my favorite resources for new photographers that are easily accessible and FREE!

Three Resources for a New Photographer

Three reasons you should use your camera every day to help you get better at using your DSLR.

 Three Reasons to Use Your Camera Every Day


  1. I 100% agree with the statement about not getting a kit lens. I didn’t know better at first but that lens is basically useless once you get into the world of prime lenses or just non-standard lenses in general! This is a fantastic guide for someone buying their first camera! Sharing!

    1. Exactly! That lens is basically sitting in my bag collecting dust, it’s sad. You’ll get so much more use out of a prime or non-standard lens anyway. And thank you! 😀

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