Jolyn Laney | Laney Photography
Your life naturally photographed

Laney Photography Blog

This blog features photo stories, tips and tricks on photographing your own family, and my thoughts and feelings.

Time to get yourself a camera? Here are my top recommendations!

Phone cameras are nice 'n all, but it's time to up the quality of your personal family photos. After all, I can't be in your home at all times to capture your life 24/7! I'd love to be your paparazzi year around, but it just can't happen, sorry.

It's time for you to learn and grow your wings! 

It's time to invest in a great beginner camera. 

This is probably a question I get asked at least once a month so it's time to make a blog post about it, right?

There are hundreds of options out there. New or used. Canon or Nikon. DSLR or mirrorless. Cheap or expensive.

Be careful purchasing a used camera off Craigslist, for example. You never know how the camera was handled. You can ask for the year and condition, but you have to trust the seller. Canon has beautiful refurbished cameras and lenses which have passed all the tests and will work fabulously. They don't have every kind of camera refurbished so you may have to check back often if there's a certain model you're looking for. New is always the best but mosts expensive option. Make sure you have some sort of warranty on it. Go to Best Buy and handle it. Ask a friend who has the camera to let you come check it out or even rent it first from

Honestly, camera manufacturers are all closing the gaps between their differences. They all can produce great quality images. Canon has a slightly better color and is more intuitive with the buttons. Nikon has more focus points and is less expensive than it's Canon counterparts. Whichever brand you choose, you have to stick with that brand in the lenses you buy. Just make sure you have what you want. My friend just switched from Nikon to Canon and to replace all his gear; he had to spend $16,000 (he had a ton of gear, and sold his Nikon stuff to help supplement the cost, but still). Don't be that friend.

I've linked to the Amazon pages for these cameras, but make sure you look at local camera shops, B&H photo, Canon refurbished, Best Buy, etc. 

Canon T6i

This is the beginning camera for Canon and its quality is amazing. It's got a touch screen and a lot of focus points. Like all DSLRs, you can keep it in auto-mode while you learn and then you can move it to manual mode. This is more expensive, but I'm a Canon girl so I love it.

Nikon D3300

This is the best beginning camera in the Nikon line. It's great at video and only comes as a combo with the kit lens. If you want more lenses, you buy them separately. The quality is top notch here. And it's less expensive than it's Canon counterpart.

Sony a58

This camera isn't a Canon or Nikon, but it will still get the job done for a beginning photographer. It's a classic DSLR, has great quality in the images, reliable autofocus and a tilting LCD screen on the back.

Fuji X-T10

Remember how I randomly threw in mirrorless up there? This is a mirrorless camera. It's the new thing and I'm dying to get one! (I've got too much on my wish list right now.) A mirrorless camera is much more compact and has simpler construction because the mirror isn't there. It shows us exactly what's hitting the sensor. Anyway, this camera is amazing at everything and SO much lighter. The variety of lenses for mirrorless cameras isn't as high as for DSLRs, but it's always increasing. It's excellent at video too.

A quick word about lenses.

The links to each of these include the "kit" lens which is the 18-55mm zoom lens. The quality isn't up with the professional lenses but at 18mm you can get an entire room and at 55mm you can get a close up. It's the basic lens.

I love the 50mm 1.8 (the "nifty-fifty" it's affectionately called). It creates beautiful blurry backgrounds, it's lightweight and CHEAP! The Canon version is $114! It doesn't zoom so you have to move your feet closer or farther away to zoom but that's how I do it. Zoom lenses don't focus as fast as prime (fixed) lenses.

Save up. Get this for your birthday or Christmas. Play around with it!

Not sure how to use this new toy? Take my Trigger Happy Momma Workshop! Invest in 1:1 mentoring! Or stay on auto the rest of your life. Your choice.