Here are a few questions that you should ask yourself when thinking about purchasing your first or upgrading to a brand new camera~
If your answer is no, I'd highly recommend one tool that you'll likely find...in your pocket: your phone. In 2021, our phones have reached completely new heights in photo, video, and even microphone quality. Nowadays, it's a solid idea to save the hundreds-possibly thousands- of dollars by just sticking to your smartphone until you think photography/videography is something you want to pursue as a strong passion project or potential side income. My dad actually has made every video on his own YouTube Channel with a phone-no microphone, no lens attachments, nothing at all but a Samsung S9. Filming and photographing with your phone will teach you composition, give you access to multiple lenses right off the bat, and force you to learn lighting techniques before attempting to play with a higher end camera: trust me, our phones are an incredible, underestimated tool!
, once you're sure and are itching to hold The Tool of Everlasting Memories, I'd recommend the Canon 80D (affiliate link). I've recommended this camera for ages and still do swear by it regardless of whether you're interested in photo, video, or both and here's why. Priced around $800 USD, it's an "affordable" investment (at least in the camera world). I don't ever recommend the TI rebel series or anything below the 80D because again, our phones are highly capable nowadays; the line between phone quality and DSLR quality is getting blurrier and blurrier. For entry-level cameras and kits packaged together with janky lenses, I really don't think the $300-$500 is worth the investment; saving a little more for the 80D, a camera capable of producing quality work sellable to clients is just so much more worth it. On a more technical side, the 80D produces 24 MP images compared to 15.1 MP of the T1i, which is a very noticeable difference in image quality. It's weather-sealed giving you more flexibility to shoot around waterfalls/rain, shoots slow motion video at 60p, and gets you almost 1000 shots per battery charge. It's compactness, convenience, and ease of use makes it a very accessible entry-level (arguably borderline professional) DSLR. Here's a video to help you get started!
I'm ready to invest in a REAL camera! Now which one should I get?
Have you invested in a camera before?
As of 2021, the world is shifting towards mirrorless cameras. Although I am a Canon shooter and can only speak on the Canon side of things, all camera companies are switching towards mirrorless systems. I use the Canon R5 and let me tell you...I've never used a better packaged deal. Prior to this, I bought a used Canon 1DX Mark II as my professional camera that was priced at a whopping $5500 USD. The 1DX was a giant upgrade from the 80D, producing insane visuals and capturing subjects at rocket-fast speeds. It also was very durable, had dual vertical and horizontal grips, and rarely needed battery changes. However, it was bulky and even if the batteries lasted a long time, they were expensive at $150 each, along with pricey $300 C-Fast cards.
Before buying a camera, ALWAYS research battery, extra chargers, memory cards, adapters, and storage space costs! They can easily add an additional $1000 that just comes out of nowhere.
All in all, I switched over to the R5 for 3 main reasons. First, it produces 45MP images meaning you can zoom in on a horizontal photo and completely reframe it for a vertical image. At 45 MP, it's extremely forgiving and the image quality is something I've never seen before; here are Canon R5 images I shot for portraiture on my second YouTube channel:
Which higher end camera do you use?
Secondly, the R5 shoots in 4K 120fps; that's super high quality slow motion video. Is it overkill for YouTube videos? Oh 1000% it is. But it's beautiful and I use it often for client shoots because like the images, shooting in 4K 120fps makes filming very forgiving as well. Having the flexibility to reframe slow motion shots has been a game changer for my workflow, but I do use this mode sparingly as the size of the files just eats away storage space. This camera can even shoot in 8K resolution and downsampled 4K (8K quality compressed into a 4K video). Again, an option most creatives would rarely use, but it's there. Third and final reason why I love the R5, it packs in all of these features into a tiny camera body. If you were to bring this on a client shoot, they'd wonder if you were a professional or not because of how tiny this camera is compared to its predecessors. To have a camera body so small yet packed with features that surpasses the 1DX II, arguably even the 1DX III, it's very difficult to argue against this camera. The only downfall I've found so far is it's ubiquitous overheating issue when shooting in 4K HQ mode or 8K (lasts about 20 minutes before overheating). This is partially why I don't record videos in anything higher than 4K, but all the other features easily make up for this one pitfall. I've never used a better camera than this, and to top it all off, it's autofocus is lightning fast. The 1DX Mark II has missed a few shots for me, let's say 80/100 photos of walking subjects will be in focus. The R5 on the other hand? Rarely does this beast miss it's target, shooting 99/100 photos in focus.
Overall, those are all my camera recommendations! Hopefully it's something to just consider prior to making your giant purchase into this beautiful field. If you're looking for other specific camera recommendations, please leave a comment below, and I'll answer as much as I know!