Lisa Leonard Designs

selecting the perfect camera {photography 101}

November 16th | photography

Today I want to recommend two affordable cameras to get you started with the wonderful world of photography! I have such a blast taking pictures and love showing them on my blog and I want you to get in on the fun too! I will also explain a couple basic hints/tips to get you started on your photo journey.

The first step to photography is picking out your camera. If you do not already have a camera, you can go many different routes. I prefer “diligent” and “inexpensive”, and the brands that I recommend most for that are Nikon and Canon. I personally use a Nikon D5000 and I definitely recommend this camera. If you are looking into getting a Canon I would recommend the Rebel t2i. Both these cameras come with a basic lens and it is great for a beginner!

 This is the Canon Rebel t2i. It takes fabulous pictures without breaking the bank!

Here is the camera I use, Nikon D5000!

This lens right here is a “must have”. For just $100 you can be shooting amazing portraits. The 50mm 1.8 will make your subject crystal clear and blur out everything behind it. It’s perfect for photos of your kids, the family dog, and specific subjects that you want to get a clear photo of. I love it!

Now that you know which camera to get, I want to share with you some of the very basics of taking a photograph! We are just going to stick with “auto” settings right now, maybe in another blog post I will go more in depth with “manual” settings.

When taking a photograph, you want to make sure that you have a subject and that this subject is in focus. When you look into your viewfinder a little red box will light up. This will show you the point where the camera will be focusing. Move around the subject and get creative!

When taking photos of people ‘snap’ away! You can never take too many pictures. I love capturing emotion in my photographs. It makes every photo worth a thousand words and tells a story. If you take a lot of photos you will be able to capture every emotion and you will have many pictures to choose from in the end. Sometimes I can take 30 pictures of the same scenario and I’ll be so glad I did because the thirtieth picture will be the one I choose.

Go for it! Take pictures and mess around with your camera, capture timeless emotion and most of all…have fun! Photography is a great hobby and with the basics you can be well on your way to creating amazing memories to put around your house!

27 Responses

  1. I love your advice! I’m secretly wishing for a DSLR sometime soon. I bought a really nice Rebel a few years ago but without interchangeable lenses I feel very limited.
    *And I vote for more photog tip posts:)

    • Lisa Leonard says:

      My best advice would be to upgrade lenses and stick with the camera that you already have! I will definitely keep the photography posts coming!

  2. I use a D5000 too, and I love it! Where do you typically get your lenses? I have been searching & can not find any for $100, do tell!! :)

    • Lisa Leonard says:

      The best places to order lenses is either or Both are very reliable sources! The 50mm 1.8 lens is a little more expensive with Nikon, I believe it’s around $200. While the Canon 50mm 1.8 is $100 on amazon. Hope this helps!

  3. jimmie lee says:

    I have been coveting a camera so that i can capture good pics of the family.
    This gives me a place to start! AWesome!

  4. loved this! more of these posts would be great! your photography is inspiring!

  5. Lisa says:

    Great tips! I have a Nikon d3100. I love it and am still learning to use it.

  6. Kelly says:

    Thanks so much for this post! I recently bought a d5000 from a friend and they included a 18-55mm lens. Have you ever used that particular lens? Or, do you know what the biggest differences are between the 55mm and 50mm? Thank you!

    • Lisa Leonard says:

      I have used this lens and I really like it, it definitely does the job. The 50mm lens with a 1.8 aperture is a lens that does not zoom in or zoom out, it stays the same length and the cool thing about this lens is the 1.8 aperture setting. The lower the number in aperture the better the lens. I hope this helps! My guess is that the 18-55mm lens that your friend has goes down to a 3.4 aperture.

  7. Cherie says:

    Lisa—I still have the post you put out a while ago about cameras. In the lens section you listed several different lens you use and said your favorite for the Nikon was the 55-105. I have a Nikon D5000 and only have the lens that came with it—the 18-55. I can’t get very close up with it unless I’m right in the subject’s face. Which lens would be better for close up using the Nikon—the 55-105 or the one you mentioned in this post(18-70)?

  8. Janine says:

    Just a note for those who aren’t quite ready to jump to a DSLR…..the Canon PowerShot SX20IS is a fantastic point and shoot. I needed something for action and distance (equestrian sports) and I rarely have time to manually focus…..bought this camera and absolutely LOVE it. I had a Rebel but it couldn’t get the job done for me….love. love this camera.

  9. Jen Wells says:

    Does anyone have recommendations for a home photo printer–one that can print from a memory card and iPhone?

    • Lisa Leonard says:

      I wish I could help you out with that! I know Canon and HP make great printers, but I’m not sure which would be the best.

  10. Kelli says:

    This helps me so much! I am so intimidated by getting a nicer camera. I love your pics and trust you, so thanks! And it is not nearly as expensive as I thought. I will bite the bullet soon so I have time to practice before Europe this summer!

  11. lauralee says:

    Hi, I have the canon 2ti and am having a hard time getting good photos of my daughter dancing fast in low light on stage, even with sports mode? Seems hit or miss? Any tips for really capturing her rockette like kicks?
    THANKS so much.

    • Lisa Leonard says:

      Definitely! With low lighting it can get a little tricky, that is why other lenses are used, some are made for extreme low lighting and can take a crystal clear picture. I would recommend the 50mm 1.8 lens for these type of photos and turn on your flash. Hope this helps!

  12. annette says:

    My husband recently gave me a Nikon DSLR from my birthday. Right now I am only using the auto setting only because I am intimidated by all the other settings. I would love to see more posts about basic photography! You always have such beautiful pictures.

    • Lisa Leonard says:

      You are going to have so much fun with that camera! Stay tuned for more photography posts in the future. In the meantime, read the manual from front to back and mess around with your camera. You will be amazed at everything you can learn just from the handbook.

      • annette says:

        I am so scared I’m going to mess something up by playing around with it! Is there a way to “undo” everything and go back to the origianl settings?

        • Lisa Leonard says:

          I am not sure if there is, my best suggestion would be to set your iso to 400 and go from there. If you keep the camera on “auto”, the camera will pick all the settings for you. Hope this helps!!

  13. Jess says:

    Thank you so much, Lisa! My husband and I are expecting our first baby and our Christmas gift to each other will be a camera to document her first years. You take such beautiful pictures and I look forward to more photography tips from you!

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