What Camera Should I Get? Camera Recommendations From a Travel Photographer

Two of the most common questions I get are (1) I'm in the market for a new camera, what recommendations do you have? and (2) what camera do you shoot with?  Depending on what you are looking to spend and how professional of a camera you'd like, I have a few different recommendations!


Non-dSLR recommendation: Samsung NX500

If you're looking for something better than your iPhone/smartphone but not as serious as a dSLR, try the Samsung NX500.  It captures beautiful images, it's smaller (and cheaper) than a dSLR so it's great to travel with, and it's wifi-enabled so you can post images from it in real-time (hello, Instagram!).  The camera is also compatible with all Samsung NX-mount lenses so you can swap them out - I replaced the bundle lens with the 30mm.  Most of my Instagram images are shot with this camera and I often find myself reaching for this over my dSLR when leaving for a trip.

Examples of images shot with my Samsung NX500:

UPDATE: For months I have been hearing about and getting questions about the Sony mirrorless cameras.  While I have not personally used one yet, I have heard nothing but amazing things about them and even know a handful of professional photographers that use them instead of dSLRs, like Chris Burkard for example.  If you are just starting out, you probably want to go with the Sony a6000 or a6300 which are their beginner level cameras.  If you are more advanced, you will want to look into the full frame options like the Sony a7 II, the a7R II, etc.  There are an almost overwhelming number of options, so use the comparison tool on their site to find the one that best fits your needs.  For example, if you don't shoot video you likely don't need one of the more expensive options with 4K video!

I actually have the a7 II on my own birthday list this year.  Once I get it (fingers crossed!), I will update you on the results here :)


"Entry-level" dSLR: Canon Rebel (t6i, etc.)

The first thing you should decide when you are looking into getting a dSLR is what brand you want.  This is important because you'll likely acquire different lenses and eventually upgrade your body and you won't want to switch from Canon to Nikon when you do so, for example.  I went with Canon more or less because that is what my grandpa and mother shot with.

Canon has what they call beginner dSLRs and advanced dSLRs.  Beginner dSLRs are easier to use and if you are just starting out, you definitely want to go with one of these.  IMO which body you choose doesn't matter as much as the lens does.  I first started with a XS (no longer sold) and then moved onto the t4i (t6i is the current version) before moving up to the "advanced" level body.  If you're just starting out, the t6i is a great option.  More on lenses below... 


"Advanced-level" dSLR: Canon 6D

The camera that I currently shoot with is the Canon 6D which is technically an advanced-level model.  It's full-frame, has a wide ISO range (100-25600), and does everything I need and more.  If you're looking to upgrade from an entry-level body to advanced, I'd highly recommend it.  Read up on the benefits before doing so, though, as your best bet might actually be to upgrade your lens instead.


Examples of images shot with my 6D:


What about lenses?

Lenses make all the difference and as you start using a dSLR you may find yourself somewhat addicted to testing out different ones. I have a handful of them, but find myself going back to the same two over and over: the Canon 35mm f1.4L and the Canon 50mm f/1.4.  

If you're just starting out and looking for something to replace the bundle lens that came with your dSLR, I'd recommend the Canon 50mm f/1.8 which runs around $125 and is well worth it.  If you don't have a dSLR yet, I'd actually buy the body only (no kit lens) and buy this lens to go with it instead.


What about a GoPro?

To be totally honest, I have a GoPro and I don't love it for daily use simply because fish-eye is not my style.  It does come in handy at certain times, which for me is mainly just when I want to take some underwater images like when swimming with dolphins.  If you like the look and have a need for that type of camera I'd say it's a good option.

Examples of images shot with my GoPro:

That's all I've got! If you have any questions, let me know below.