**This post is not sponsored by Canon, DJI, Apple or Contour. They did not pay me or give me any of their products to write this review.**
That being said, Canon, DJI, Apple and Contour your more than welcome to start paying me or sending me products to review.
Finding the best photography equipment for beginners or the best photography equipment for those making the jump from a Point and Shoot or smartphone is challenging. As soon as you walk into Best Buy or your local camera store and see the display of DSLR’s its easy to be overwhelmed.
For those who know me, know that I am a big technology geek. I traded in my thick coke-bottle glasses and bow tie for the raw cuteness and deep melodic voice that you see and hear today. Matter of fact, I’m the office go-to person for everything Apple, iPad, apps, computers, and software. My colleagues often say that I have the patience to make sure they understand what I’m explaining, without making them feel stupid (and I really pride myself on that skill).
So when my YouTube viewers, as well as other travel bloggers from my various FaceBook groups, started inquiring about the best photography equipment for beginners, I thought I’d put that Patience & Understanding skill to good use. In addition, I often get questions about my cameras, my drone, and comments related to my (sexy Barry White / inquisitive Morgan Freeman) voice and the professional quality of my videos.
All the cameras mentioned in this post can be found in my store, as well as the millions of other accessories I spent my money on to satisfy my insatiable need for toys and gadgets.
One more thing. I always said I have more camera bags than Kim Kardashian has Louis Vuitton bags. When I travel, my carry-on bag – for the most part, contains all my camera and tech gear. Before I get started my friend Lesley put together a list of the best wheeled backpacks which is just as important as the camera gear itself.
The Perfect Photography Equipment For Beginners
Ok, before we get into talking about camera gear or the best photography equipment for beginners, I wanted to start with a quote from one of my favourite YouTube vloggers…
“The best camera you have is the one at your disposal”
Dispelling the myth that owning the most expensive camera will make you produce the best videos or take the best pictures is important. What the quote means is that you should focus on capturing the content and using that content to tell amazing stories.
Canon EOS Rebel T5i
As I mentioned at the outset, I am not an official Canon spokesperson or brand ambassador and I refuse to get wrapped up in the Canon vs Nikon vs Sony vs Panasonic war. Simply put, my very first camera was a point & shoot camera called the Canon Elph. It was the last version of the Elph still requiring film just before everything went digital. So naturally, my second camera was the digital version of the Canon Elph and I brought that camera everywhere.
Thousands of incredible pictures documented the incredible world that surrounded my teenage eyes. I loved photography.
It was so much of an escape, I eventually moved up to my first DSLR, the Canon Rebel. However, as my videography skills started to flourish, carrying a camera to film video and a camera to take pictures while travelling became impractical. I needed a camera that can both which lead me to my current camera.
- Great entry level camera and the first essential piece of photography equipment for beginners or anyone looking to take their photography to the next level Even when the camera is set to automatic, you’re pretty much guaranteed a great picture.
- The learning curb is minimal or at your own pace. Use the Automatic settings for Beginner, the Half Automatic / Half Manual settings for Intermediate and the Manual settings for Professionals.
- You can change its lenses; which is great as it adds more dimensions to your pictures and videos. Plus, when you upgrade to a newer Canon camera you can keep your lens.
- It records 1920 x 1080 HD Video
- 18 Mega Pixel Picture
- External microphone jack
- The price is not cheap but you are getting more bang for your buck when you consider everything you get with the Canon EOS Rebel T5i. Consider it an investment.
- The size will always be an issue for some, especially those who came from using a point and shoot or smartphone. Some will say It’s too bulky, too big and too heavy. For me, the size is fine. When its the only camera you need to take both pictures and record videos, I think its size is a good trade-off.
- The battery: When I bought this camera, it came with a camera bag and an extra battery. I honestly can not count how many times that extra battery was needed. Typically, when I’m travelling, I’m taking pictures, not just for myself, but for this blog and social media. In addition, I’m filming short clips that I will later edit together for my YouTube Channel’s travel vlog. Typically, the battery will last me all day but when I film for an extended period of time (an expected or unexpected interview, someone making or preparing something etc) then the battery drains really fast…
- When creating video sound is extremely important and the built-in microphone is not that great. In fact, if you’re planning on filming any type of talking or interview you will most definitely need to invest in an external microphone.
DJI Mavic Pro
For as long as I could remember I always liked helicopters. Believe it or not, I do remember saying I would love to have a remote-controlled helicopter.
I swear, its true!
I had remote-controlled cars so at the time I thought it was a reasonable wish. Who would have thought a few years later I would be able to check this (wish) off my wish list. One of my viewers asked what drone I use in my videos and the answer is the DJI Mavic Pro and I absolutely love it. I started with the DJI Phantom Standard 3 and it was a great drone to learn how to fly and film.
My most memorable experience was when I bought the Phantom to Malta to film the Azure Window. About 6 months later the Azure Window collapsed and all of a sudden I ended up with aerial footage and pictures that are now priceless.
Especially since I almost opted not to go…
However, carrying it was a pain in the arse. It was big and it had its own backpack, which essentially made it my carry on. I had to carry my laptop and camera as separate items when usually they would all fit in my backpack. The minute I saved up enough money, I (painfully) sold my Phantom and I bought the Mavic Pro.
- Size: It’s like having one of James Bond’s toys. The Mavic folds up and becomes so portable it literally fits in a purse or backpack. This year I was able to fit my Canon EOS Rebel T5i, my MacBook Pro, my MePhoto TriPod and My DJI Mavic Pro (plus all cables, extra lens, extra batteries, remote etc) in my carry on backpack. Game changer
- Areal videography and photography. A new perspective and another way to make your content more diverse.
- It films in 4K which is the current standard. In addition, its Intelligent Flight Modes are great for selfies and flying by itself; following you, orbiting objects, etc etc…
- For travel bloggers especially, this is the best drone on the market…and my favorite helicopter 🙂
- Price: For what you are getting the price is great.
- Huge Learning Curb: You have to learn how to fly. You have to think about safety (people and property). You need to practice flying in controlled, safe areas (like a small park or field) before taking out into the world. The Mavic can fly several kilometers away from you and at incredible heights. I’ve cut my fingers twice on the propellers and in both situations it was me getting excited and flying the drone indoors.
- Wind: The pro is its size but on extremely windy days it quickly becomes its con. It can deal with wind pretty good for the most part but I’ve had the drone drift off course ever so slightly when flying straight. Wind behaves differently at different altitudes and in different environments (cliffs, valleys, alleys etc)
- Rules: Although we see tons of drone footage on YouTube, they are still pretty new for most countries and every country has different rules about flying them. In addition, you have to follow the rules for the country you live in. Here in Toronto (Canada), you cannot fly around airports, sporting arenas, world heritage sites, crowds of people, buildings, fly higher than 120 meters and the drone must always be in your line of sight.
- It attracts attention. Always. So if you’re trying to be discrete when you’re launching it…forget it. That being said, once its high enough in the air no one can see or hear it. People are fascinated and will always want to ask questions or look at your phone to see what the drone sees.
- Price: For what you are getting the price is great but it’s definitely not on everyone’s budget.
Like most people, my mobile phone is always within arms reach of my person. For me a long time Apple user (trapped in Apple’s ecosystem) makes my iPhone the first camera I grab when I want to capture something right away. But more importantly, the camera technology in the iPhone (as well as in most smartphones) has grown by leaps and bounds. It won’t compare to a DSLR but for the average person who just wants to take a good quality picture or capture some footage, the iPhone will do that and do it well.
In fact, the award-winning film Tangerine was filmed using three iPhone 5c’s, the FiLMIC Pro app, a widescreen lens from Moondog Labs and a Steadicam. All of which are not professional film gear, inexpensive, and can be purchased by anyone. Excluding of course the iPhone which chances are… you already own.
- Always with you
- Photos & Videos: Rear camera, 12MP, 4K, 1080p HD – Front camera, 7MP, 1080p HD
- Minimal learning curb: Easy to use
- Tons of filming, photography and editing apps
- Perfect for live streaming (Facebook, Instagram, Youtube etc)
- The built-in Microphone is not bad
- Size: Because its small it’s difficult to keep stable which means you will need to buy a selfie stick or gimbal like the DJI Osmo Mobile
- Apple Picking: The iPhone and Apple devices in general, are the most stolen devices. I’ve personally had my iPhone 4 pickpocketed when I was in Paris. Some girl kept bumping into me and smiling on the packed train. It wasn’t until I exited the train I realized I was missing my iPhone. I hated Paris for awhile but I have long since gotten over it.
- Battery: Since you use your phone for everything in your life. Adding the job of filming and editing will definitely drain your battery faster.
Contour Roam 2
The Roam 2 is my action camera. It’s exactly like the GoPro just a little bit cheaper. I picked it up during a boxing day sale a few years back and what I love; its durability and its versatility. It covers the basics and shoots in 1920 X 1080 HD but what is cool is that it attaches to pretty much anything. There are attachments to affix the camera to cars, surfboards, skateboards, bike/motorcycle; helmets, handlebars, your head etc.. the list goes on.
Since it’s waterproof, I have brought it to the beach and the thermal bath in Santorini, Greece. I’ve attached it to my motorcycle’s front wheel forks and to my head when I was parasailing in Lagos, Portugal. Just like the drone, the Roam 2 brings a unique perspective to your content that enhances your storytelling.
- Durable: Waterproof, Drop proof,
- Films in 1920 X 1080 HD
- Versatile: It comes with a few attachments but you can buy more based on the type of footage you want to capture.
- Easy to operate: Simple on and off switch
- Doesn’t take pictures.
- Not good for selfies. (no stick attachment)
- No microphone
- Nothing to secure it when holding it
- No viewfinder
The final camera in my arsenal of camera gear is not really a camera for beginners as its a professional one. However, it is a great beginner camera for those looking to get into filmmaking, shooting music videos etc. The Canon XA10 is a great little agile camera with the quality of the big news type camera.
I used this camera overseas from 2012 to 2014 but since the arrival of my Canon Rebel, I’ve retired the XA10 to professional projects and/or local projects. When you walk into a room to meet a client with this camera and the microphone attached…they know you mean business.
- Professional Camera: Insert professional jargon here_______: HDMI Output (supports CEC, x.v.Color, and 1080p output), Component Video Output, Composite Video Output (3.5mm), USB 2.0 Hi-Speed Terminal, (2) XLR Audio Input (when handle is ATTACHED), Microphone Input (3.5mm), Headphone Jack (3.5mm), Remote Control Terminal (compatible with LANC protocol), Accessory Shoe (when handle is attached),
- The XA10 records in Full HD 1920 x 1080 – PF30 Frame Rate, PF24 Frame Rate, Native 24p Frame Rate
- 64gb internal memory plus 2 memory card slots
- Large Sensor: Amazing at filming in low light
- Size: Although it’s not a big camera per se but compared to my DSLR awkward to carry all and takes up space in a carry-on.
- Price. However, that’s relative to your needs. As a professional camera its a lot of bang for your buck. As a commercial camera its pricey for the average person.
- Huge learning curve. However, it does have automatic features and can be user-friendly
Cameras make me happy 🙂
I’m all about using technology to the fullest, in order to make my life and the life of those around me a little easier and a lot less stressful. When it comes to cameras; those who have an interest in photography, have a passion for photography or make a living from photography will gravitate to a professional DSLR camera. The average person will gravitate to the device they always have with them which is there smartphone.
The thing to remember.
The average DSLR and/or smartphone will give you brilliant pictures and stunning videos. In addition, as drones and action cameras become more affordable and commonplace the ability to tell a good story will separate the good, from the bad, from the average. In theory, a more expensive camera will give you more choices and options in the ways you want to capture your content but it will not make your content the best without a good story.
A camera is a tool used to help you tell a story like a hammer is a tool used to help you build something.
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