You’ve probably taken some pretty cool shots on your iPhone. Maybe even received hundreds of Instagram likes on those photos.

So, why professional photography? If you aren’t sold, let’s talk about how getting the right camera and learning how to use it will take your photos to an even higher level.

  • Better photo quality: Let’s face it, most photographs coming from a phone don’t look great as a large print or on a high-resolution computer or TV monitor.
  • Better zoom: The majority of photos taken with a phone camera that were zoomed in look terrible. That’s because phones only have digital zoom – the camera software’s attempt at zooming in. But it’s no match for an actual optical lens that can move back and forth, thereby being able to zoom without degrading the picture. Because we all know that “hey can you zoom in on that guy/ that license plate” on cop shows is fake and it just doesn’t work that way in the real world.
  • Better control: With a professional camera and the skills to use it, you have infinitely more control over your image than with a “point-and-shoot” camera or smartphone. And better control means stunning results!
  • Better processing: Professional cameras come equipped with a feature called “Raw” imaging, which is basically a digital negative. This lets you “develop” the image just the way you want by adjusting and emphasizing colors, tones, brightness, etc. – but without sacrificing image quality.

A $3000 camera isn’t necessary

While the “best” cameras and lenses cost thousands of dollars, that’s not to say that you must spend thousands to get decent results. The more expensive units do tend to produce more professional results, but you can still achieve great images with less pricey ones.
For example, my first “real” camera was a Pentax K-50. I spent about $650 for that camera and three lenses.
It was a great camera; in fact, I still use it sometimes. And while that camera isn’t exactly a current model anymore, there are plenty of great choices without spending thousands.
And that is exactly what I would recommend to start – keep it under $1000 so that you can decide if this is for you. If not, you can resell the camera you bought on eBay or any of the dozen other apps where things can be bought and sold.
Some more current cameras in that price range that are well-rated are the Canon Rebel T6i, the Sony a6000 Mirrorless, and the Nikon D3400.

Which to buy?

If you’re ready to try out professional photography and buy a nicer camera, the thing to remember is that you are buying into a system. Sorta like when you buy an iPhone or an Android phone and you start buying apps, music, and such – the chances of eventually switching becomes less and less as you invest more of your money into devices and apps that may only work on that platform.

It’s the same thing here, for the most part; if you buy a Sony full-frame camera, you’ll want to buy Sony full-frame lenses. If you buy a Pentax camera, you’ll want to stick to Pentax lenses (there are exceptions to this rule, but to keep it simple we’ll leave that out for now).

So, before you buy a camera – look at the lenses too. Even if you buy a kit that includes the camera and one or two lenses, you might eventually want more. Do yourself a favor and look at other lenses and see how they are rated, check their availability, and look at the average cost.

You don’t want to think you’re getting a great deal on a camera body, only to find that the lenses aren’t made for it anymore. Or that while the camera cost you only $300, the lenses cost $1000 each. Or that the lenses are all poorly rated for one reason or another.

So just do some research on lenses to help you decide before you buy. One great option for starting out is to buy a “kit,” which contains one or two lenses (usually zoom lenses).

Browse cameras: Canon Rebel T6i | Sony a6000 Mirrorless | Nikon D3400