Buying Guide for New Photographers

This page will be a living document as in it will be edited as new information about buying Nikon cameras comes out. However, It will be current information as of when you read it. 

Nikon has recently demanded that all seller practice what they call Minimum Advertised Price (MAP). In other words, one online vendor can’t undercut the local camera shop. Now, all pricing has been standardized in a national market.  This does not include grey markets.

What is a grey market camera? It is when you a supplier tries to get around the distributor by importing a camera issued to a nation in Asia. They use to lose their service agreement as a result but it seems Nikon has recently changed their point of view of this. 


Why I suggest buying an generation old model?

As a general rule, I suggest being a model behind the latest release. Currently, the Nikon D7200 is the top of the line for that series. I would suggest getting a D7100. However, I still use my Nikon D7000 often and still consider it the best bang for the buck in Nikon cameras.

For the average user that is looking for their first camera, the models to check out right now is the Nikon D3200, Nikon D5300, and Nikon D7100. If you are buying a Nikon D4s, I don’t think you nee a “buying guide” or you have one rich daddy.

There is two reasons that I recommend this practice. The first is pure economics. Once the newer model is out, alot of the last one hits the use market cheap and even the new models drop dramatically. The second reason would be about updates. The firm wires have fixed the problems that it had in the beginning.


Buying Nikon Lens

If you are just starting and have the Nikon 18-140mm that comes with your Nikon 7100; I suggest not even thinking about lens for a year. Learn the science of photography because buying into all the gear head hype. 90% of the images you see, you could get with that basic lens. It is the person behind the camera making it happen; not the lens.

Once you are ready for your first lens, here is the suggest of the succession of getting them.

  1. Nikon 50mm (1.8G)
  2. Nikon 35mm (1.8G)
  3. Nikon 85mm (1.8G)

As you might notice, there is no zoom lens on the list. As soon as you can shoot using primes; the better photographer you will be become. As I said, wait a year of using your kit lens though.

What about the old film lens?

We call them “legacy lens” an I own a dozen of them. I have the entire “e-series” line in my camera bag. They are good if you know what you are doing. However, the learning photographer should still use the new version that are fully connected to the camera.

I also use alot of Samyang’s offerings but I would give the same advice as I o for film lens about them as a disclaimer.


What about using the camera strap?

Nikon camera straps sucks but all straps suck equally. My advice is always to pick up a Black Rapid sling for your camera the same day you buy the camera. It will make carrying the camera alot easier, lighter an thus, you will carry it more often. I normally carry my camera everywhere I go. Literally. It will be the best $50 you spend in photography.

I am currently using the Black Rapid RS-7 Sport. There are some other ones so just see which is best for you.


Get yourself a tripod

I am not saying go out and buy the Really Right Stuff’s $1,200 carbon fiber version or anything. I do think getting a cheap one and see if you actually use it. It probably will just be in your trunk most of the time. However, if you find a need for it often; you can consider getting a better one.

I have a very nice one that I use professionally but when I travel on my own, I normally just carry a $20 one made in China. I am not worried if I break it or lose it. It is only $20 to replace it, after all. Using a cheap one, the key is to shoot on a 10 second delay to let the camera settle.

It is probably one of the most handy things to have as a photographer.


Just shut up and shoot!

What I mean by that is don’t worry about doing things like this person and that person. Watch and read tutorials but spend more time doing that than you do actually out there on the street and and on the side of the road making some image.

Photography is not something you learn by talking about it in Google groups, either. It is something you have to get out there and practice.

My final words is this: every photographer you look up to really sucked ass when they started. They were where you are now.