Gear We Love: Beginner Cameras 2017

One of the most popular questions we get from entry-level photographers here at the BPW is “What camera should I buy?” If you’re in the market for a good starter camera for yourself, or even a special holiday gift for the photographer-in-training in your life, here are three of our 2017 favorites to help point you in the right direction!

Canon Rebel T6i

This compact and reliable DSLR model is one of the best beginner cameras out there, and is a great choice for everything from portraits of your family to solid vacation photos. It comes with a flexible 18-55mm kit lens, and it also has video capabilities with full 1080p recording at 30 frames/second.

Suited for:

  • Beginners, food photographers, touch-screen lovers

Notable Features:

  • The 3-inch back LCD is touch screen (the only one on this list with that feature), which means you can review your photos and change settings without fiddling with tiny buttons.

  • Like the other models on this list, the Canon has wifi capabilities, allowing for easier transfer of images onto your computer. But unlike the others, the Canon allows you to connect your camera and your smartphone via a downloadable app, which can work as a remote trigger and from longer distances.

  • Canon is known for excellent refurbished equipment, meaning that you can score a gently used, Canon-certified model for cheaper than brand-new. This option is highly recommended by the BPW!


  • Around $750 with the kit lens (or $600-650 for refurbished)

Nikon D5300

With a similar look and size to the Canon T6i, this Nikon model clocks in as slightly heavier by a few ounces, which could be something to think about if you plan to carry your camera with you wherever you go. This DSLR is often referred to as “fully loaded” and has all of the features that even an intermediate photographer would want, including wifi, strong video recording capabilities, and a solid 18-55mm kit lens.

Suited For:

  • Beginner/intermediate, photos of kids & sports

Notable Features:

  • The back LCD screen is slightly larger at 3.2”, plus it swivels and flips open to help you make sure you can see what you’re photographing from almost any angle.

  • Beyond wifi, the Nikon is the only camera on this list with GPS capabilities, making geotagging quick and easy.

  • Nikon also has certified refurbished models available to help save some cash. This option is highly recommended by the BPW!


  • Around $700 with the kit lens (or $550-600 for refurbished)

Sony Alpha a6000

The only mirrorless camera of the bunch, this Sony model is by far the lightest and smallest on the list – it’s practically pocket-sized, even with its 16-50mm kit lens. Still, it’s a highly capable camera that’s adaptable to almost any photography situation you’ll come across, and you’ll be pleased with its above average video capabilities.

Suited For:

  • Beginner/intermediate/advanced, travelers, photos of kids & sports

Notable Features:

  • The Sony has face detection, which is helpful for fast focusing when you’re trying to capture those special family moments.

  • Speaking of focusing, this little camera packs a punch – it has 179 focus points, which means you’ll have a better chance of capturing more precise focus on a particular subject when using its notably fast autofocus.

  • Its continuous shooting mode is more than twice as fast as the other two, giving you 11 frames per second, which is very useful in quick photography situations like sports or wildlife.

  • Some beginners will find that the Sony’s menus are not as user-friendly as the other two models. However, once you learn to navigate them, you’ll be overall very pleased with this camera’s performance and ease-of-use.


  • Around $550 with the kit lens

We hope these details help give you a starting point when it comes to picking your beginner camera – and remember, once you learn how to use your camera skillfully in manual mode, you can take stunning photos with almost any camera. Happy shopping!


The BPW Team