My recommendation for your first SLR in 2012

Want better photos?

As I’ve mentioned before, I get asked what camera to buy a lot. I mean loads, it’s silly. Generally, I get asked by people who are fed up with the blurry, grainy photos they are currently taking and think a new camera will solve everything. If this sounds like you, then go read my previous post about whether or not an SLR is for you.

Done? Still interested? Excellent…

For entry-level, buy new

In that post I suggested that buying second hand may be a good way to go. Well, I just had a rummage around eBay, and although I would recommend it for buying more expensive second hand pro stuff, the entry level stuff seems to hold its price a lot better. So much so that most of what I saw is now better specced brand new for the same money. When buying entry-level equipment, I suggest you buy new. Sleep easy knowing that you’ll probably be able to sell it for a decent price should you choose to upgrade in a few years.

Manufacturer lock-in

The first choice to make is between Canon and Nikon (some argue Sony but I wouldn’t). Lenses and flashes are generally not interchangeable between brands, so whichever one you pick, you’re kinda stuck with forever. (I’m on team Canon, but Nikon also make awesome stuff). Don’t stress about it too much, it doesn’t matter, flip a coin.

My favourite

After looking around, my recommendation is the Canon 1100D. It is a cracking little camera. Packing great bang for buck, it also shoots HD video. It’s just dropped in price on Amazon for some reason, so I think it’s an absolute bargain.

£310 – Camera body + kit lens (18-55mm)
The kit lens is a great all-rounder and worth a good £100 on it’s own.

Extra lens

If you’re feeling flush, the first lens you should buy is a no-brainer (in my humble opinion).

£77 – 50mm lens. The “nifty-fifty”

This lens is amazing and dirt cheap. In my short experience, you normally have to spend £300 before you can get a lens that is worth having. This one bucks that trend by producing the best photos you’ve ever taken.
Warning: It has no zoom at all. None. Nada. Zip. If you want to zoom in or out you have to walk. It sounds pretty crazy but it’s worth it for the picture quality. It’s f1.8 which means it practically sees in the dark and takes prints that look like they belong in a magazine. Bear in mind this lens is perfect for taking portraits, baby photos etc. but no good for anything wider like landscapes. I find landscapes boring anyway. Being a “fast” lens means you’ll be able to take sharper images (same bright image in faster shutter time) which is handy for fast moving kids.

Film Memory

You’ll need a memory card, I always choose memory cards in this order:
Brand – for reliability
Speed – don’t buy a slow one
Size – your budget will decide this

There’s no point putting a link for this, prices change by the minute, just have a shop around. Perhaps you already have one lying around in an old camera/phone/wii…

Good luck

Even though this equipment is described as “entry-level” don’t let that put you off. Seriously, you’ll take photos so good you’ll grin from ear to ear. You’ll show your friends and they’ll compliment you on what a great photographer you are. Six months later you’ll look back at those photos with a harsh and critical eye and be surprised at how amateur they were. Congratulations, you’re on your slippery way to an expensive but rewarding hobby.

If you take this advice, be sure to post a link to your flickr / Google+ photos page in the comments below. 😉