Best Digital Camera for New Photographers in the DSLR Category

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As professional photography teachers with over 10,000 students in our online courses, one of the most common questions we get from new photographers is this: What digital camera should I buy? That’s a BIG question and can definitely be an overwhelming one. It was for us at the beginning of our career! There are millions of brands, specifications and add-ons. It’s so confusing –– especially when it’s your first major camera purchase and you don’t want to make a mistake with such a significant investment. Unfortunately, too often, we see new photographers become paralyzed with indecision. They research… and research… and research. They read dozens of comparison articles by experts, ask for advice in photography Facebook groups and pour over hundreds of online customer reviews, only to end up right where they started: overwhelmed and confused. This is especially true for a lot of husbands who aren’t photographers but want to buy their wife the right camera for Christmas without her knowing! If that’s you, good husband, we’ve got you covered, too!

Our goal for this post is to SIMPLIFY that decision for you and give you ONE recommendation for your first digital camera. In our professional opinion, based on years of teaching over 10,000 new photography students online, there’s one camera that stands out. It’s the most popular digital camera (by far) among our students. Based on their feedback and our own research, we believe the Canon Rebel T7i is the best digital camera for new photographers under $1,000 in the DSLR category.


Inside this Article… 

Three Reasons We LOVE This Camera
The top three reasons we think the Canon Rebel T7i is the best digital camera for new photographers.

The Lens We Recommend for this Camera
The lens we recommend for this camera, plus a bargain pick and an upgrade pick (to fit any budget!)

The Accessories You Need to Get Started
The accessories you need to start shooting as soon as your new camera arrives –– that will keep your overall cost for a camera, lens and accessories UNDER $1,000 for entry-level professional gear!


The Most Important Thing to Know
Before we start, we want to mention one really important thing that YOU need to know. There’s a massive misconception in the world that “nice cameras take good pictures.” The truth is this: the photographer matters way more than the camera. The photographer makes the camera, and not the other way around! We’d rather have our wedding photographed by a good photographer with an iPhone over a brand new photographer, with access to the nicest, most expensive gear in the world who doesn’t really know how to use it.

That’s why, as soon as you purchase your first digital camera, we recommend investing in education so that you can actually learn how to use it. We can’t tell you the number of new photographers who purchase their first digital camera (and are so excited when it arrives!) only to become frustrated when their camera manual doesn’t make sense and the free YouTube tutorials they found don’t actually help them take the quality of pictures they see from others online. So, within a few weeks, they give up. They become so discouraged that they put their camera on the shelf to collect dust.

We don’t want that to happen to you! Which is exactly why we created our online Shooting & Editing Course. To help YOU take pictures you love and edit them faster than ever before! Most of our students start our course with an entry-level professional camera (just like the one we recommend in this post!) and within MONTHS are taking professional quality photos!


Review of the Canon Rebel T7i

We believe the Canon Rebel T7i is the best digital camera for new photographers under $1,000. Canon is one of the most trusted and reliable camera makers in the world and the Rebel is the gold-standard for entry-level professional cameras. Canon has been manufacturing them since around 2005. They’re like iPhones. They just keep getting better with every version! Here are three reasons why we love the most recent one, the Canon Rebel T7i.

1. High Resolution Images & Fast Shooting Speeds
The Canon Rebel T7i boasts the Rebel’s highest quality sensor and fastest processor yet. At 24.2 megapixels, this camera will give you an incredible amount of clarity and detail in your photos. Plus, at six frames per second, you can fire your shutter at high speeds to capture moving objects –– like little kids running through the yard or a bride and groom coming down the aisle.

2. Strong Focus Points
One of the biggest frustrations our students voiced about older versions of the Canon Rebel was that the focusing system wasn’t strong enough. Their photos weren’t blurry, but they weren’t tack sharp, which is really frustrating when you think you “nailed the shot” only to look down at your screen and realize you didn’t. Canon addressed some of their past focusing issues many years ago by introducing cross-type focus points. Not to get too technical, but on Canon digital cameras, there are two types of focus points: regular and cross-type. Cross-type focus points are stronger and more reliable than regular focus points –- and the more you have, the better! The earliest Canon Rebels didn’t have any cross-type focus points. More recent models had some (about 9). The Canon Rebel T7i has a whopping 45 focus points and ALL of them are cross-type, making it the most accurate Canon Rebel yet.

3. Good in Low Lighting Scenarios  
In low light situations (think inside your house, with all the windows open, on a cloudy day) you have two options: bump up the ISO or use flash. For most new photographers who are just learning their camera, flash is really confusing. To do flash right, it requires a lot of expensive gear and there’s a huge learning curve on top of that. To make matters worse, typically, the built-in popup flash on some cameras (like this one), for a number of reasons, don’t get the job done. So what are you supposed to do in low-light situations? Thankfully, the Canon Rebel T7i has the highest sensitivity ISO range in the Canon Rebel line, going all the way up to 51,200. That should be plenty of range for snapping photos of a bride in her dark getting ready room or taking pictures of your kids playing inside on a cloudy day.     

Quick Note: We’re Canon shooters. We have been since the beginning of our career –– and we still enthusiastically are! We love their products and have had nothing but great experiences with their gear. That’s one of the reasons we feel extremely confident recommending them. Another reason we only recommend one camera in this post is to eliminate confusion. Too many choices usually does. That said, there are obviously other great camera manufacturers (like Nikon, Sony and others), so if you’re a new photographer who’s buying your first digital camera, and you really want to start on the Nikon track, we recommend the Nikon D5600. 


The Best Lens for the Canon Rebel

When we were brand new to photography, we didn’t know a lot. Honestly, we didn’t know most things (even the most basic things) because we were brand new. Sometimes, online trolls in our industry (presumably still living in Mom’s basement) make new photographers feel stupid and unwelcome because of what they don’t know, instead of validating their interest in taking better photos, their enthusiasm to learn and making them feel excited about what they will know! Online trolls aren’t welcome here.

So, if you’re like us, and you were confused (for a minute) as to why we’re recommending a lens to go with your new camera, because you didn’t know that the camera and the lens were two separate pieces, you’re in good company! We had the same question when we were YOU. Also, if you’re brand new to photography and don’t know much at all, you’re welcome here! YOU are exactly why we created our community of photographers, to support and encourage each other, in an environment where you can ask questions without any fear of judgement.

Okay, that said… as a general rule, one of the things that separates amateur-level photography gear from professional-level gear, is this: With most amateur-level gear, like the Canon PowerShot, the camera body and the lens are permanently attached to each other. With most professional-level gear, like the Canon Rebel T7i, the camera body and the lens are two separate pieces. Here’s what that means: higher quality and better performance with professional-level gear. That’s why we recommend this entry-level professional camera if you’re someone who’s serious about taking your photography to the next level. It will give you a foundation upon which you can grow into new and better lenses as your budget permits. If we recommended a camera that didn’t give you the ability to change and upgrade lenses over time, you would be limited by the camera you have, not by the potential you posses.

In our review below, you’ll see two types of lenses. One type of lens is called a kit lens. This is the lens that typically comes with a camera (like the Canon Rebel) in the box. It’s part of the camera kit. That’s why it’s called a “kit” lens. Typically, you’ll see cameras with kit lenses sold at places like Costco, Sam’s Club, Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, etc. The major camera retailers sell them, too. They’re great for starter lenses! Purchased in a kit, those lenses typically retail for around $100. Which, when you’re first getting started, feels EXPENSIVE. A hundred dollars just for the lens?! We totally get it. We remember feeling the same way. The idea that top-of-line lenses cost thousands of dollars BLEW. OUR. MIND. So, if a kit lens is at the top of your budget right now and that’s what you can afford, no problem at all! Do it! But, if you have extra room in your budget for a more expensive, higher-quality lens, we’d recommend upgrading; because, like with anything in life, you get what you pay for –– and as far as lenses go, in our experience, the more expensive the glass, the better the quality and performance and, thus, the final images.


1. Top Pick – Canon 50mm 1.4 
At $349, the Canon 50mm 1.4 is our favorite Canon lens under $500. Combined with the $649 Canon Rebel T7i there’s no better bang for your buck. For under $1,000, this camera and lens team packs a serious punch.

2. Budget Pick – Canon 18-55mm 
If you’re on a budget, you can upgrade your Canon Rebel T7i purchase and get the Canon 18-55mm kit lens for just $50! 

3. Upgrade Pick – Canon 50mm 1.2
Our favorite lens of all time is the Canon 50mm 1.2. If we had to shoot with just one lens for the rest of our life, this would be it! At $1,299, it’s not an affordable option for most entry-level photographers –– and that’s okay! Wait until you can save up for the Canon 5D Mark IV (the camera we use) and then upgrade to this lens at the same time. They go together like peas and carrots.


Must Have Accessories for Your Camera
1. Memory Cards – SanDisk 32GB Extreme 
The Canon Rebel T7i uses SD memory cards. To make sure you have enough space, we recommend purchasing the SanDisk 32GB Extreme. We recommend SanDisk because they’re the gold standard for memory cards. They have one of the lowest failure rates (if not the lowest failure rate) in the industry, which means your memories will be as safe as they can possibly be. Get two in case you run out of room!

Upgrade Pick – SanDisk 32GB Extreme Pro
If you’re someone who’d like to become a professional photographer one day and you have room in your budget, upgrade to the SanDisk 32GB Extreme Pro card. Its SanDisk’s most expensive SD card because it has faster write speeds and (slightly) lower failure rates, meaning it’s the most secure. The Extreme Pro line is the one that we use for wedding days. 

2. Extra Batteries – Canon Lithium-Ion Battery
Whether you’re a hobbyist or professional, one of the WORST things that can happen when you’re shooting is your battery dying… without having a backup. That’s why we recommend getting an extra Canon Lithium-Ion Battery–– so you never miss the moment when you’re in the moment!


Summary: Get Started for Under $1,000! 

• Bundle Option – $799 

$799 – Canon Rebel T7i + Canon 18-55mm (Camera + Kit Lens)

* Additional Accessories 

Memory Cards 

$10.83 – SanDisk SD 32GB Extreme (Budget)
$59.99 – SanDisk SD 32GB Extreme Pro (Upgrade)

Extra Batteries

$48.90 – Canon LP-E17 Lithium Ion Battery


The Best Place to Start: Free Class for New Photographers!

Once you get your new camera, the best place to start is our free 1-hour online photography class! We created it for new photographers because it’s the class we wish we had when we were new to photography! Here’s a link to save your free seat! Hope to see you in class!

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don't miss it!

In this FREE online class, we'll show you three major photo mistakes (and how to fix them) so you can take beautiful photos with whatever camera you have! No prior experience required!

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learn how to take amazing photos

don't miss it!

In this FREE online class, we'll show you three major photo mistakes (and how to easily fix them) so you can take beautiful photos with whatever camera you have! No prior experience required! 

take amazing photos



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