Panasonic Lumix GX1
Priced at about $499, this Panasonic camera is highly recommended if your budget is keeping you at around the $500 level.
- Check price of the Panasonic Lumix GX1 on Amazon
- Check price of the Panasonic Lumix GX1 on B&H Photo
If budget is not a concern, I suggest you jump down to the “Better” or “Best” recommendations. However, if budget is your principle concern, then no worries! This Panasonic will serve you well! It has a 16 megapixel sensor and is based on something called the “Micro Four Thirds” standard. This means that there many different lenses you can attach to this camera, which is something you can add over time. If you’re just getting started, there is no need to worry about lenses, since it comes with a servicable 14-42mm lens that will allow wide-angle shots and a little bit of zoom. It also has a slick 3″ touch enabled LCD screen.
Starting around $1,100 which includes an 18-55mm lens.
See my full Sony NEX-7 Review. In short, this is really a great camera. I carry it! It is compact and powerful. It can be used it almost any photographic situation and is one of the best models available in this class. I use it to take photos of everything, from kids to landscapes to architecture to objects. This tiny 24 megapixel beast has a thousand other features that those clever Japanese crammed inside… see the full Sony NEX-7 Review for more information and sample photos.
Best DSLR Camera
Starting at $2,800 for the camera body.
See my full Nikon D800 Review. This is currently my main camera. I also carry the Sony NEX-7 above as a second camera to get quick shots here and there. But this Nikon D800 is a bigger, traditional DSLR camera. It shoots a massive 36 megapixels and has all the professional-level features associated with high-end DSLRs. For me, I prefer this over the Nikon D4 which is almost twice as expensive. You can see many sample photos and read more in my full Nikon D800 Review.
Sony NEX – First Three Lenses
If you are just getting started and want recommendations on your first three lenses, here they are. Often times a camera will come with a “kit lens” that is pretty versatile and can get you a long way. The Sony NEX-7 comes with a 18-55mm lens that produces great pictures. But there are many lenses that are better for more specialized situations.
- Sony 18-200mm (Amazon | B&H Photo) – This lens is a little big but its versatility is perfect for mid-range stuff like landscapes, birthdays, sports, etc.
- Sony 10-18 F/4 (Amazon | B&H Photo) – A great new lens that gives you maximum wide-angle flexibility for landscapes and architecture
- Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.2 Leica Lens (Amazon | B&H Photo) – This is a beautiful and amazing lens. You will also need a Leica lens adapter for the Sony (Amazon | B&H Photo) plus you will have to use manual focus but it’s worth it!
Nikon – First Three Lenses
Following are the first three lenses I would recommend getting if you bought a professional Nikon camera.
- Nikon 14-24 Review – A great wide-angle lens for landscapes and architecture
- Nikon 28-300 Review – Perfect walk-around lens mid-range stuff like landscapes, birthdays, sports, etc.
- Nikon 50mm Review – Ideal for cute children, family and close-up objects where you like a blurry background
I only write reviews for lenses that I use and recommend. Here is a complete list of camera lens reviews.
Tripod and Head
My best advice for tripods is to visit your local camera store and try them out! Find one that you find easy to use… I’ve tried many, and my recommendations are below. A tripod is composed of two parts – the Legs and the Head. The head simply attaches to the legs, and these have universal connections.
What I carry
- TVC-33 Tripod Legs from Really Right Stuff – An excellent set of legs for most small to medium-sized cameras. It supports 11 pounds, so you have room to grow. I recently switched from the high-end Gitzo tripod legs to these from Really Right Stuff. I love them, they are lighter and stronger than the comparable Gitzo.
- BH-55 Head from Really Right Stuff – This company makes remarkable products… When you go to the site, you can choose the best setup for your camera. This is what I use on my professional cameras.
- L-Plate bracket for the NEX-7 from Really Right Stuff
- L-Plate bracket for the Nikon D800 from Really Right Stuff
Entry Level Tripod and Head
- Manfrotto 190XB 3 Section Aluminum Tripod – An excellent set of legs for most small to medium-sized cameras such as the Sony mentioned above. It supports 11 pounds, so you have room to grow.
- Giottos MH-1000 Large Ball Head w/ Built-in Quick Release – A simple and easy to use quick-release head that you will enjoy.
More Reviews and recommendations
I have many other reviews and recommendations you may find helpful!
- Photo Editing Software Reviews – reviews of five must-have software packages along with many others
- Photo Bag – a look at what’s in my photo bag
- Other Reviews – various other software and hardware reviews
Any questions about the nature of these reviews? Please visit my Ethics Statement.