For some, a simple point and shoot is the only camera they will ever need. It captures the special moments of birthdays and celebrations with no muss, no fuss, and very little skill. They can snap a few shots, try not to cut off the tops of anyone’s heads, and be done. For others, photography takes hold of the psyche in a way previously unfathomed, and becomes an obsession without rival.
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When you wake one day to find that you absolutely must be able to capture the transient beauty of raindrops on your window sill, or perfectly preserve the smile of the stranger at the bus stop, it may be time to consider upgrading your equipment. While you follow your passion and work on becoming the next Michael Kenna, equip yourself with one of these excellent cameras for amateur photographers.
With a DX-format 24.2 megapixel CMOS sensor and EXPEED 4 image processor, the Nikon D3300 is a find for any would-be artist. It’s space efficient and adaptable, perfect for high resolution imaging, low-light shoots, and full HD 1080p video recording. The D3300 proffers a variety of shooting modes, from Easy Panorama to Picture Control, which allows for in-camera adjustment of color and contrast.
An 18-55mm lens comes included, along with a 16gb memory card, a Ruggard Commando shoulder bag, and a Nikon WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter. A perfect choice for a shutterbug on the move. Purchase: $447
Canon EOS Rebel SL1
When shooting fast in a flurry of activity, the EOS Rebel SO1 is your friend. The Hybrid CMOS AF II increases speed and accuracy when utilizing the Live View, and a 9-point autofocus system allows you to snap away without concern that your pictures will blur with the viewfinder. 1,040k-dot high resolution touch screen puts settings changes and Touch Autofocus right at your fingertips, while smear resistant coating on the monitor keeps things clear in any weather. The starter pack comes complete with an 18-55mm lense, perfect for building on with later additions. Purchase: $500
Intended for burgeoning photographers, the Nikon D3400 instructs and assists with it’s helpful Guide Mode, taking you through the process and ensuring that your photographs are perfect. Easy to use at any skill level, lightweight and portable, wherever the muse strikes you will be able to capture the moment with the D3400. Then, using your phone or tablet, connect to the internet using Nikon Snapbridge to share that moment with the world.
A 24.2-megapixel DX-format CMOS image sensor captures the world around you in stunning detail, while the 18-55 VR lens gives you customization potential. Purchase: $500
If you dream of becoming a creative photographer, the Pentax K-50 will provide you with just about everything but the skills. The SAFOX IXi+ autofocus system streamline the photography process while RAW image processing and HDR shooting capabilities give you minute control over your picture. A 16.3 megapixel APS-C sized CMOS sensor and PRIME M image processing engine ensures high quality at a high operating speed. If film is a part of your creative vision, the Pentax K-50 supports HD 1080p video recording up to 30 fps and HD 720p recording up to 60 fps. The camera itself is weather proof polycarbonate and stainless steel, so you can take to the road, documenting every storm along the way. Purchase: $562
Canon EOS Rebel T6i/750D
The Canon EOS Rebel comes with everything you will want to set yourself up in a life of photographic obsession. Not only does it have the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens one would expect, but it also includes a second Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Lens, for distance shots, a 58mm HD Wide Angle Lens, a 2.2x Telephoto Lens, 2 32 GB Commander Cards, and an extra battery. If you are eager to jump in with both feet, taking photographs in a plethora of styles, of every subject under the sun and maybe even the sun itself, the EOS Rebel provides you the extras you need to reach and exceed your wildest dreams. Purchase: $570
Canon EOS 6D
Designed for enthusiasts but appealing also to professionals, the full-frame EOS 6D 20.2MP DSLR Cannon EOS 6D offers image quality and detail in a Magneseum Alloy Chassis. An 11-point autofocus system ensures that every picture is focused precisely, and a center cross-type focus point improves low light focus sensitivity. For color analysis and luminescence values, the iFCL 63-zone dual layer metering sensor is a dream. Wifi and GPS capabilities allow for remote control and instant uploading of images.
For the avid film maker, HP recording up to 1080/30p in the All I-frame or IPB compression, as well as the standard H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codec, with manual control over exposure and sound allows you greater control over the final feel of your creation. Purchase: $1,270
Fujifilm X-Pro 2 Mirrorless Digital Camera Body
The Fujifilm X-Pro 2 is intended for professional photographers, but still affordable and desireable for many hobbyists. The X-Processor Pro ensures superlative performance at high speeds, an Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder switches between optical and electronic finders at a speed of up to 85 frames per second, while a 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor provides extremely high quality image resolution. A dust and splash-resistant body with more than 61 points of weather sealing and freeze resistance to 14°F allows you to take this camera anywhere without fear of damaging your equipment. Full HD video 1080p at 60fps brings your Independent Spirit award that much closer. Purchase: $1,700
A full-frame professional 36MP DSLR, the Nikon D810 is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. A fully weather sealed magnesium alloy body protects your valuable hardware, but with this baby, the inside is what really counts. The 36.3 megapixel FX format sensor combined with the OS provides high resolution imaging with controlled noise across ISO sensitivities from 64 to 12800. A 51 point AF system with 15 cross-type sensors makes for ideal tracking and focus, even for high speed subjects or during night shoots. Wifi capabilities make your images and video instantly available on all devices, while the HD video capabilities capture at 1920 x 1080 (60p) resolution. Purchase: $2,400