Photography equipment buying guide
for Beginners

The most frequent question that we receive from our students is :
“I’m new to photography, what do I need to buy”?


Buying photography equipment as a beginner is a difficult task – with so many offers and information, it can be really confusing. So we have dived into the market, analysed all latest offers and prepared the following buying guide for the beginners, with prices that you can find in  Switzerland.

We will suggest a complete kit for three different budgets for beginners, then provide detailed recommendations in each category: Cameras, lenses, accessories and software.

Of course buying a better camera / lens does NOT make you a better photographer:) Make sure to check our photography courses to learn how to use your camera and take better photos.

Cut to the chase, just tell me what to buy:


Camera Body (our ranking):

  1. Canon 200D: CHF 300.-
  2. Nikon D3500: CHF 350.-
  3. Sony a6000: CHF 380.-

Lens: TAMRON AF 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC: CHF 200.-

Strap: Blackrapid Street Breathe: CHF 50.-

Software: Adobe Photography Plan Lightroom & Photoshop CHF 11/mth


Camera Body (our ranking):

  1. Nikon D5600: CHF 400.-
  2. Canon 250D: CHF 485.-
  3. Sony a6000: CHF 380.-

Lens 1: TAMRON AF 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC: CHF 200.-
Lens 2: Nikon 35mm f/1.8 (CHF 150.- ) or a similar standard lens

Tripod: SIRUI T-025SK Traveler Ultralight: CHF 200.-
Portable flash for portraits: Godox TT685: CHF 130.-

Strap: Blackrapid Curve Breathe: CHF 80.-

Software: Adobe Photography Plan Lightroom & Photoshop CHF 11/mth


Camera Body (our ranking):

  1. Nikon D7500: CHF 700.-
  2. Sony a6100: CHF 800.-
  3. Canon 80D: CHF 620.-

Lens 1: TAMRON AF 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC: CHF 200.-
Lens 2: Nikon 35mm f/1.8 (CHF 150.- ) or a similar standard lens
Lens 3: Specialized landscape super wide angle (10-18mm) or portrait (~85mm f/1.8)

Tripod: GITZO Traveler KIT GK1545T82TQD: CHF 790.-
Portable flash for portraits: Godox V1: CHF 250.-

Carrying: Blackrapid Curve Breathe strap: CHF 80.- or Spider Holster: CHF 180.-

Software: Adobe Photography Plan Lightroom & Photoshop CHF 11/mth

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Choosing the camera:

Cropped vs Full Frame Sensor
Sony Mirrorless

The camera technology changes all the time, so do not buy too expensive cameras if you don’t know exactly what you are paying for. If you will buy second hand, don’t buy more than 3 year old camera bodies.

Interchangeable lens vs lens fixed on the body?

Definitely interchangeable. Forget about the “super-zooms”.

DSLR or Mirrorless:

Having a mirror in the camera body adds to the size, but enables you to see through the lens, helps to focus faster and prolongs battery life, as you won’t use the back-screen so often. Check this excellent article for more on this subject.

If battery life, faster focus and bigger choice of lenses is more important for you, then we recommend a Nikon or Canon DSLR.

If smaller size and live preview (what you see is what you get) is important for you, then the mirrorless offers from Sony, Olympus and FujiFilm are excellent cameras.

Sensor size – cropped or full frame:

This relates to the size of the sensor of your cameras, and is in fact the most important choice that can have a significant impact on the quality of your photos. We recommend a cropped sensor camera (Nikon: DX, Canon & Sony: APS-C) for beginners.

Nikon vs Canon vs Sony vs Olympus vs Fujifilm

Another hot debate – the answer is that it doesn’t matter too much.

If you want a DSLR, our recommendation for beginners is Nikon and Canon on the entry segment. We rated Nikon slightly higher due to its excellent & affordable 35mm f/1.8 lens option.

For the mirrorless, Sony, Olympus and FujiFilm have the great mirrorless offerings around. Sony has the lead with the most advanced technologies and high quality sensors. However we find that their menus are still too complicated – obviously designed by engineers, not photographers. Olympus is very impressive with its in camera stabilization technologies, however the lens choices are more limited vs others. Fujifilm is an excellent option too with amazing designs. However the settings are for more intermediate photographers who feel comfortable with Aperture and Shutter speed direct controls.

Choosing the lens(es):

You marry your lenses, the body is like the mistress. – they come and go…

More important choice than the camera, and much better investment because the technology doesn’t change much. Do not hesitate to look at to find good deals on second hand good lenses.

Zoom lenses:

The classic 18-55mm lenses are “ok” for overall walk around photos, but quite limited in both range and aperture. We love the flexibility of having a bigger zoom, such as 18-105 or even better 18-200 for extra range for portraits. These are “jack of all trades, master of none” type of lenses – they cover a huge range and provide flexibility, however they’re not perfect at every focal length.

Prime lenses:

These are small specialists – they cannot zoom but they do a great job at low light and they can isolate subjects much better. They are also extremely light, small and cheap. If you don’t mind changing lenses, we recommend a prime lens any day over (or in addition to) a kit lens. We recommend a Nikon AF-S DX 35mm F/1.8G for all budget levels. For portraits, 50mm or 85mm for cropped sensors will do an excellent job.

Choosing the accessories:

Carrying Solution:

The original strap that comes with your camera is usually the worst way to carry it around. Why? Because they usually aren’t comfortable.

When used straight around the neck, the strap tends to pull and gives a neck ache. If you placed the strap over your head and onto your opposite shoulder, it would be more comfortable but it will be hard to bring the camera up to your eye to shoot. Plus you advertise your camera brand for free.

The best camera is the one that you have with you, so we strongly recommend one of these two solutions to have an easy way to carry your camera with you at all times:

Blackrapid Strap:

Wearing a long strap around the shoulder & neck distributes the weight evenly. They’re attached to the tripod mount of your camera, keeping it upside down next to your hand, easy to reach.

The strap is curved to fit over the shoulder and there