nikon for beginners

Nikon has been making cameras and lenses for more than 100 years now, so they’ve got a pretty good handle on the process. The choice of many journalists and hobbyist photographers, the brand offers a huge range of cameras, so no matter what you like to photograph (or record to video), this iconic Nikon camera has a solution. Here are the top picks for nikon for beginners.

Nikon For Beginners

For the experienced photography professional: Nikon D5

The Nikon D5
The Nikon D5 is built for journalists heading into the rough stuff, or studio shooters who need tons … [+] NIKON

The Nikon D5 is the camera of choice for many professional journalists and creative photographers. It’s “only” 20.8 megapixels, but having more pixels isn’t nearly as important as how much light and color you can pour onto each pixel, and that’s where the D5 shines. With an ISO range that goes up to 102,400, the D5 can get the shot even under the most extreme circumstances. It’s built like a tank and also shoots 4K UHD video, although this camera is really more aligned with creating stunning still photos. It’s big, it’s heavy, it’s expensive and it’s complicated, but when only the best will do, the masterful D5 is a favorite pick by top photogs the world over. Note: Price does not include a lens.

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For the serious hobbyist, videographer or studio shooter: Nikon D850

Nikon D850
Nikon D850 NIKON

For years, the Nikon D800 was the go-to camera body for those who didn’t need all the features or complexity of the D5. But with the D850, Nikon has upped the mid-range game again with a massive 45.7-megapixel full-frame sensor, a body more compact than the D5, lighter weight and even more AF and processing performance. “Versatile” is the word to describe the D850, which can be used effectively by rank beginners to seasoned pros. And if video is your thing, the 4K UHD capabilities and mic input, coupled with Nikon’s vast repertoire of lenses, can help you craft that next indie hit. Note: Price does not include a lens.

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For the futurist: Nikon Z7 Mirrorless

The Z7 represents a new product line for Nikon
The Z7 represents a new product line for Nikon, with new lens and a bigger focus on video. NIKON

Back before the digital revolution, serious photographers typically used two types of cameras: SLRs (Single Lens Reflex) cameras like the venerable Nikon F3, or “rangefinder” cameras that did not allow through-the-lens viewing (typically, Leica cameras), but were smaller, lighter and quieter than SLRs and still took high quality images. Now, the “rangefinder” camera has been reimagined for the digital age, and the Z 7 is one of the best out there. With a new lens mount and lens set, the Z-series cameras use a high-resolution digital viewfinder and rear LCD to compose photos, but it is still smaller, lighter, quieter and more portable than pro-level DSLRs. A favorite of videographers due to its 10-bit 4K video capability and 47-megapixel resolution, it’s still a great choice as a studio or travel camera as well. Note: Price does not include a lens.

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For the serious hobbyist: Nikon D500

The Nikon D500 is the top camera in the DX line.
The Nikon D500 is the top camera in the DX line and has many features of its FX brethren, but it’s … [+] NIKON

If you’ve mastered the fundamentals of photography but don’t want to spend a fortune for a camera body, consider the Nikon D500. Lightweight, compact, but still highly capable, the D500 shoots 4K video and snaps sharp 20.9 megapixel stills at up to 10 frames per second. It also features a tilting rear LCD screen and has many of the features of its big brother, the D850. Fast focus tech, numerous wireless features and more make it a solid deal. Note: Price does not include a lens.

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The ultimate all-in-one camera: Nikon Coolpix P1000

Nikon Coolpix P1000
Nikon Coolpix P1000 NIKON

Sometimes you just need one camera to do it all, do it quick and do it easily. That’s where “bridge” cameras come in, and Nikon’s 16.7-megapixel Coolpix P1000 is one of the best. With an astonishing 24-3000mm zoom lens, this is the choice for birders, action photographers and others who need to travel light and still get that crisp distant shot. There’s also 4K video built in, as well as RAW photo capability for full control of postproduction options. A multifunction front ring provides excellent control over manual focus and other functions.

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Power in your pocket: Nikon A1000

Nikon Coolpix A1000 pocket camera
Nikon Coolpix A1000 NIKON

Technology in the digital age has been good to photography, giving us gems like the Nikon A1000, a pocket camera for serious shooters and novices alike. With full manual exposure controls, a 35X optical zoom, RAW capability and even 4K video, the Nikon A1000 is a pocket powerhouse. But it also works great as a point-and-shoot when you need to capture the moment with a fast startup and smart auto-focusing system. It also features a large rear LCD and an LCD viewfinder, which is very handy in bright sun. Want to travel light and still get great photos and video? The Nikon A1000 is just the camera for the job.

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For the action cam fan: Nikon KeyMission 170

Nikon KeyMission 170 action camera
Nikon KeyMission 170 NIKON

Need a really, really small camera for your next adventure? A lot of people are discovering that they can get amazing (and decidedly different-looking) photos and video out of the current crop of action cameras, and they look to the Nikon KeyMission 170. Waterproof to 33 feet, highly drop resistant, and with a huge 170-degree field of view, the KeyMission 170 can work as a primary camera or as a complement to a second camera. It can be operated from your phone remotely and is small enough to fit on a keychain.

How to Buy a Digital Camera

1. Determine what you need

A mistake I see some digital camera buyers making is that they get sucked into buying cameras that are beyond what they really need. Some questions to ask yourself before you go shopping:

  • What do you need the camera for?
  • What type of photography will you be doing? (portraits, landscapes, macro, sports)
  • What conditions will you be largely photographing in? (indoors, outdoors, low light, bright light)
  • Will you largely stay in auto mode or do you want to learn the art of photography?
  • What experience level do you have with cameras?
  • What type of features are you looking for? (long zoom, image stabilization, large LCD display etc)
  • How important is size and portability to you?
  • What is your budget?

Ask yourself these questions before you go to buy a camera and you’ll be in a much better position to make a decision when you see what’s on offer. You’ll probably find the sales person asks you this question anyway – so to have thought about it before hand will help them help you get the right digital camera.

2. Megapixels are NOT everything

One of the features that you’ll see used to sell digital cameras is how many megapixels a digital camera has.

When I first got into digital photography, a few years back, the megapixel rating of cameras was actually quite important as most cameras were at the lower end of today’s modern day range and even a 1 megapixel increase was significant.

These days, with most new cameras coming out with at least 5 megapixels, it isn’t so crucial. In fact at the upper end of the range it can actually be a disadvantage to have images that are so large that they take up enormous amounts of space on memory cards and computers.

One of the main questions to ask when it comes to megapixels is ‘Will you be printing shots’? If so – how large will you be going with them? If you’re only printing images at a normal size then anything over 4 or so megapixels will be fine. If you’re going to start blowing your images up you might want to pay the extra money for something at the upper end of what’s on offer today.

3. Keep in mind the ‘extras’


Keep in mind as you look at cameras that the price quoted may not be the final outlay that you need to make as there are a variety of other extras that you might want (or need) to fork out for including:

  • Camera Case
  • Memory Cards
  • Spare Batteries/Recharger
  • Lenses (if you are getting a DSLR)
  • Filters (and other lens attachments)
  • Tripods/Monopods
  • External Flashes
  • Reflectors

Some retailers will bundle such extras with cameras or will at least give a discount when buying more than one item at once. Keep in mind though that what they offer in bundles might not meet you needs. For example it’s common to get a 16 or 32 megabyte memory card with cameras – however these days you’ll probably want something at least of 500 megabytes (if not a gigabyte or two).

4. Do you already own any potentially compatible gear?

Talking of extra gear – one way to save yourself some cash is if you have accessories from previous digital cameras that are compatible with your new one.

For example memory cards, batteries, lenses (remember that many film camera lenses are actually compatible with digital SLRs from the same manufacturers), flashes, filters etc.

5. DSLR or Point and Shoot?

Dslr-Point-And-ShootWhile digital SLRs are getting more affordable they are not for everyone. Keep in mind that they are usually bigger, heavier, harder to keep clean (if you’re changing lenses) and can be more complicated to operate than point and shoot. Of course there are some upsides also.

If you’re trying to make a decision between a point and shoot and DSLR you might want to read my previous posts titled Should you buy a DSLR or a Point and Shoot Digital Camera? and it’s companion piece How to Choose a DSLR.

6. Optical Zooms are King

Not all ‘zooms’ are created equal.

When you’re looking at different models of digital cameras you’ll often hear their zooms talked about in two ways. Firstly there’s the ‘optical zoom’ and then there’s the ‘digital zoom’.

I would highly recommend that you only take into consideration the ‘optical zoom’ when making a decision about which camera to buy. Digital zooms simply enlarge the pixels in your shot which does make your subject look bigger, but it also makes it look more pixelated and your picture ‘noisier’ (like when you go up close to your TV).

If you’re looking for a zoom lens make sure it’s an optical zoom (most modern cameras have them of at least 3x in length – ie they’ll make your subject three times as big – with an increasing array of ‘super zooms’ coming onto the market at up to 12x Optical Zoom).

7. Read reviews

Before buying a digital camera take the time to do a little research. Don’t JUST rely upon the advice of the helpful sales person (who may or may not know anything about cameras and who may or may not have sales incentives for the camera they are recommending).

Read some reviews in digital camera magazines or online to help you narrow down the field. There are some great websites around that give expert and user reviews on virtually every camera on the market – use this wonderful and free resource.

A little self promotion here – one such site is my Digital Photography Blog which is a site that collates the reviews of many sites from around the web. To use it best enter the camera’s model name that you’re looking for a review on in the search feature in the top right side bar. It’ll give you a link to a central page that has information on the camera as well as links to any reviews published online on that camera from around the web.

8. Hands On Experience

Photo by erinmariepage

Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a handful of cameras head into your local digital camera shop and ask to see and play with them. There’s nothing like having the camera in your hands to work out whether it suits your needs.

When I shop for a camera I generally use the web to find reviews, then I head into a street in my city with 4 camera shops side by side and I go from shop to shop asking for recommendations and seeing the cameras live in the flash. In doing this I generally find the same camera or two are recommended in most shops and I get to see them demonstrated by different people (this gives a more well rounded demo). I also get to play with it and get a feel for which one I could see myself using.

9. Negotiate

After you’ve selected the right digital camera for you it’s time to find the best price.

Once again, I generally start online (on a site like our store) and do some searches to find the most competitive prices on the models I’m interested in. With these in hand I’m in a good position to be able to negotiate in person with local stores and/or with online stores. I generally find that retail stores will negotiate on price and will often throw in freebies. Online stores are more difficult – most bigger ones don’t give you the ability to negotiate but smaller ones often will if you email them.

Don’t forget to ask for free or discounted bonuses including camera cases, memory cards, extra batteries, filters, free prints, cases etc. I even know of a couple of stores that offer camera lessons that you can ask to be included. Some stores will also consider giving you a trade in on older gear.

I generally do negotiating from home on the phone and only go into a store to pick up the camera after a price is agreed upon.

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