Would you have any recommendations for a beginner's camera for photographing outdoor adventures, scenery type stuff, the kind of things I see when I'm exploring? I'm looking to give it a try after seeing all the cool shots on blogs like yours!
It really depends on how much gear you want to travel with, and what kind of budget you want to work with, too. Since there are a LOT of different factors to consider, and since I’m not certain as to what specifics you’re looking for, allow me to share my personal experience with cameras in hopes that you (and others!) can find something useful here!
I started with a little Kodak Easy Share DX6490 point-and-shoot, and while I was able to make it work for me, I was severely limited because it didn’t offer the ability to adjust shutter speed, white balance, or ISO like a DLSR camera will. Below is an example of the type of photo I was taking with the early Kodak. Notice how the colors seem flat and dull, the darker sections look grainy, and while the bobcat’s face overall seems to be in focus, it’s clear on closer inspection that everything is just slightly burred.
On the bright side, the camera was cheap, could take a decent beating, and didn’t require additional lenses or gear. In a fix, it worked well in proper lighting situations, but for someone serious about getting good photos consistently, I’d suggest a DSLR instead.
I personally upgraded to an entry-level DSLR in the Canon Rebel series. We could have the “Canon Vs. Nikon” discussion for the next six hours and still not conclude which maker is the better of the two; but having shot both, I’m more impressed with the quality of Nikon’s lenses, and even more impressed with the quality of Canon’s camera bodies.
In the end, I actually based my purchasing decision on company ethics. This may sound a bit odd since I am myself a hunter and taxidermist, but at the time when I first got into DSLR photography, I was not. In fact, I was big into animal rights back then, and believed that all hunting was terrible, so it came as an offensive shock to find that Nikon - a company avidly supported by wildlife enthusiasts all over the world - sponsors the Safari Hunt Club, manufactures scopes specifically for trophy hunting, and supports other hunting organizations which actively encourage lawmakers to ease protections for threatened and endangered wildlife around the world.
My thoughts on the topic of hunting have changed since then, but I still feel that it’s important to point this out, especially if your personal ethics differ from mine and would be better-suited to the purchase of camera gear which doesn’t aid in the killing of animals.
In stark contrast to Nikon, Canon proudly runs their “Wildlife as Canon Sees It” campaign to help raised awareness for endangered species and threatened ecosystems, donates to environmental groups, and does not produce products intended for hunting purposes.
But let’s get back to the main topic here: My first Canon was a Canon Rebel XTi, which are currently available for as little as $90.00 used. The Rebel series has since put out much more capable cameras, and for a beginner, this is ABSOLUTELY what I would recommend, especially since many of the newer ones shoot video as well as stills. Don’t let the small price tag fool you. Shooting with a Canon 75-300mm telephoto lens ($150.00 street value), I was able to take wildlife shots such as this:
And with the 18-55mm stock lens that comes with the Canon Rebel XTi, I was taking adventure photos like this:
But I felt the need for something better - with more power, wider range of options in manual mode, and video capabilities, so I shelled out for a Canon EOS 7D (currently going for around $1,000 used) , which is what I now utilize for many of my adventure photos, including nearly all the images I take of Ivar and the wolfdogs.
The cons are that this camera is hefty - it weighs much more than the Canon Rebel, and takes up far more room in a camera bag or backpack. But! It takes incredibly vivid photos and video, and was even used for (some) of the filming of BBC’s “Planet Earth” series.
This camera serves me well, but it’s absolutely the kind of thing you need to work up to. If you spend big bucks on a camera like this and shoot with automatic settings the whole time, you’re not going to enjoy and will likely become frustrated when your photos don’t turn out like they appear in your mind’s eye.
My advice is to get an entry-level DSLR first, and shoot using manual settings for at least a year or so to get confident and familiar with them, before dropping money on a more professional body.
Here are the kinds of photos I take with the Canon EOS 7D:
Finally, I ended up adding a GoPro Hero5 Black to my arsenal, largely because I needed what I call a “grab and run out the door” camera. It doesn’t allow for the same kind of quality or control that a DSLR does - not by a longshot. And it runs out of battery a quick pace, too. Sometimes, the color or white balance is terrible, and I have to do more post-processing than I do while shooting with the Canon EOS 7D; but the bright side is that it’s tiny, waterproof, shock proof, and takes some pretty impressive photos, especially during quick road trips and in situations when I don’t want to swap lenses and/or unpack the heftier camera.
As you can see, the GoPro makes for some cool shots, especially when you utilize the wide angle feature. The downsides are pretty obvious, but I enjoy the fact that its small, portable, quick, and easy to use. Mine was $200 on Craigslist, so I got lucky there. If the current $400.00 price tag is too much, just wait until the company produces a few more new cameras, and the price will drop like a rock.
Hope this helps!