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The Most Practical DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) Camera for Beginners

Updated on March 14, 2016

I have two rules whenever someone asks me what DSLR camera to be. I am not an expert myself but I have the knack (at least that's what I think) of understanding electronics. So I ask them only two questions.

  1. Is this going to be your first DSLR camera?
  2. What is your budget?

Most of the time the answer to the questions above is a resounding 'Yes. this is my first' and 'Yes. I'm on a shoestring budget'. Obviously most people are beginners in DSLR photography. That includes me... Ahahahahahah!!!

So a beginners camera must be one of the following:

  • It must be very easy to use. Idiot proof if possible.
  • It must be relatively inexpensive

Fortunately easy to use cameras are also inexpensive. Although they have less features than the so called professional or pro-sumers digital cameras, they do their function (take pictures) very very good. From this a beginner has two alternatives on getting a DSLR.

  1. Buy a used DSLR camera. Learn and master the functions and features. Sell it and buy the advanced camera with all the features you can handle.
  2. Buy an inexpensive DSLR with limited features. Master it and upgrade to a more advance DSLR camera in the future.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Nikon D40xThe Pentax K-xThe Nikon D3000The Olympus E-420The Pentax K2000Canon Rebel XS or 1000D
The Nikon D40x
The Nikon D40x
The Pentax K-x
The Pentax K-x
The Nikon D3000
The Nikon D3000
The Olympus E-420
The Olympus E-420
The Pentax K2000
The Pentax K2000
Canon Rebel XS or 1000D
Canon Rebel XS or 1000D


What do you get if you opt for a used camera? Well for one you can get a DSLR camera with an advanced feature set. Sometimes the fastest way to learn how to swim is getting thrown in the water. Questions then will arise on what you really intend the camera for. Questions like:

  • Do I really need all these features?
  • Will I really be using the manual mode? Adjust the shutter? The aperture? Change lenses? Or just use it for point and shoot?
  • Is this camera to heavy to carry around?
  • etc... etc... etc...?

I usually tell my friends that a lot of used and feature packed cameras floating around because people who have once been beginners are shifting to the newer models. I've know some lucky people who were able to buy Nikon D300's for one fourth the price. But there is still a downside in choosing this path. You'll miss out on the new features built into current entry level DSLR cameras. What features? Well features like: Dust Control, Live View LCD, HD Movie Capture, Extended Dynamic Range...

But the truth is... if you're just taking your first step in photography, you really don't need this features. What a novice photographer needs is to understand the relationship of light to the shutter, aperture and lens of the camera. Because no matter how advance your camera is, if you do not understand the basics... then you might just as well be holding a point and shoot camera.


There are also really good reason to get a brand new camera. For one... it is brand new with of course a warranty. Since beginners don't really know much about handling DSLRs there are chances that it they will be handled roughly. This is where the warranty comes in handy.

Inexpensive cameras may suffer from the following limitations:

  • Less Customizations - truth is as a beginner this not that important than it is to a professional
  • Less Autofocus Points - also not that important unless you go into speed photography which unlikely since you are after all a novice
  • Slower Burst Shot - well buy a video camera. But getting a proper single shot is your primary concern as a beginner
  • Worse Low Light Performance - Not a n issue at all since you will be learning in daylight not at night. Ahahahahah!!!

The DSLR cameras listed below are what I recommend for beginners. Inexpensive but with all the features a novice photographer can handle. Some professional photographers stand by the Nikon D40 with there life.

I highly recommend buying a new one (the warranty alone justifies this recommendation) and these are my choices for you...

Nikon D40 6.1MP Digital SLR Camera Kit with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II Auto Focus-S DX Zoom-Nikkor Lens
Nikon D40 6.1MP Digital SLR Camera Kit with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II Auto Focus-S DX Zoom-Nikkor Lens

Master this DSLR camera and you master every DSLR camera produced in the world. A lot of professional photographers these days still carry their trusty Nikon D40.

Never trust someone who says photography is not an art... (ahhh if she's my girl... who needs a darn camera.... I'll love photography with all my heart. Ahahahahaha!!!))
Never trust someone who says photography is not an art... (ahhh if she's my girl... who needs a darn camera.... I'll love photography with all my heart. Ahahahahaha!!!))

A little opinion there if you please...

If you have the money, would you get an advance camera or a beginners camera?

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    • profile image

      Josiah 2 years ago

      Jannet - Omg! These photos took my bterah away! Wow, you always bring something special to all ur sessions! When I was looking for a wedding photographer, their portfolio did not have variety In fact, they had the same poses and places and the only thing different were the people in the pictures. You make every session so unique and wonderful! Spectacular and beautiful!November 12, 2011 8:22 pm

    • profile image

      Loren 2 years ago

      The accident of finding this post has brnghteied my day

    • profile image

      geek 6 years ago

      nice article.. i hope i can buy a dslr camera soon..

    • flipultrahdcamera profile image

      flipultrahdcamera 6 years ago

      Great hub, actually I am considering to buying this one... I would buy the most advanced one if I could ... :)

    • needful things profile image

      needful things 6 years ago from Poland

      Hi Hazel. The Nikon D3000 is great camera. Check out the Pentax K-x too...

    • profile image

      Hazel 6 years ago

      Thank you so much for sharing this! I think the primary purpose of people searching for articles like this is for them to make up their mind. I'm planning to buy a Nikon D3000 since i'm a 16-year old beginner. In my country (Philippines), there is an online-based store which sells gadgets such as DSLR cameras at affordable prices. A Nikon D3000 lens kit with 1-year warranty costs only $529.04 (includes 18-55mm VR, 4GB SD Card, LCD Protector & Nikon Bag). I think that's reasonable enough for a well-known store. :)

    • photolenses profile image

      photolenses 7 years ago

      Really good details on camera Ienses! certainly valued your Hub! I would like to see many more before long?

    • needful things profile image

      needful things 8 years ago from Poland

      Thanks for the heads up Carol. A point shoot is ok but in the long run you might just want a dslr.

    • Carol the Writer profile image

      Carolyn Blacknall 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Great hub! Great information. I am thinking of getting a camera to take better pictures for my hubs. But it really has to be simple to use. I may see if there is a camera club in the Yahoo meetups. Keep up the good work.- Carol