Many years ago, I wrote a post called The Black Friday Don't, and for years I've referenced it when folks ask me about buying camera gear. While the links do not work anymore, and the "deals" are old, the concept is the same... but I thought I'd update with some newer products that have come out since then.

Rule 1: NEVER buy a "bundle" Those are always made up of subpar lenses and other products. Once you learn to use a DSLR on manual (which, if you are going to buy one, you must!!) you will quickly realize those products are not worth the plastic they are made of. So... no matter how fancy it all looks together, DON'T DO IT.

Rule 2: Buy Items Separately This is basically the same rule as 1, I am just reiterating it. Got it?

Rule 3: Don't forget the memory card. These cameras have no internal memory, so you must have a memory card to store the photos and video you record. Make sure you know what kind of card the camera takes.... most are SD, some take CF though. And now with the new mirrorless cameras, some take CFexpress.

Rule 4: Accessories Are Good The right ones that is.... this kind of goes back to #1, that bundle always includes some awful camera bag that is ugly and never holds enough. Go for a "pretty" and functional bag. I've listed a few below. Also, an external flash is a must if you (or the person you are gifting this to) will want to take photos indoors.

OK... let's look at the good and bad being offered this season.....




The market has been hit hard with new mirrorless cameras. They are definitely the future of digital, compact, lightweight and also expensive. I personally don't love the "feel" of a mirrorless body in my hands.... but I know that's a personal preference!

If you are interested in a mirrorless, This is the Nikon Z50 (pictured above left bundle). It's the most affordable, new Nikon mirrorless camera on the market. It is a crop (DX) sensor, which is part of why it is less expensive. The Z series also has it's own set of lenses, but an adapter does exist for the traditional DSLR lenses. So, if you are upgrading to mirrorless, get the adapter to use all your current lenses.

If you aren't looking to spend that much, you'll be in the market for used gear. I am still very much in the traditional DSLR camp. I like the weight in my hands, and the physical mirror open/close. My professional camera bodies are a D750 and D700(backup). I love them both so much, and it will take a lot for me to want to upgrade from them. The D750 is still in production, but the D700 is not, however you can still find them refurbished. I know these professional bodies are likely outside of many price points, so here are some good less expensive options. Remember, less expensive means it will function, but it may not be as easy to use, or produce as high quality images as a professional body.


This camera
offers the full function of a DSLR, but with a smaller price point. It's relatively small in your hands and is a bit lighter. It is a crop sensor. It will still come with the factory warranty!
Now, since you are purchasing a camera body only, you will need a lens. I highly recommend you start with a 50mm 1.8 for DSLR or 50mm 1.8 for mirrorless.

This is a prime lens. That means there's no zoom function, but the trade off is you can use it in lower light, and you'll have more bokah (blurry backgrounds). 50mm is about the what your eye sees as far as distance. If you reaaaaallllly want a zoom, get the 24-70 2.8.
Now, you've got the camera and lens.... now for accessories.

Don't forget that memory card! Most cameras now take SD cards, so I'll just put that one here.

You'll likely want a stylish bag. I love the Kamrette bags!!

And you will want a pretty strap, because nothing says "I have no idea how to use this thing" like the branded strap that came in the camera box. I love the Fotostrap line, and you can even personalize them!

Kamrette Backpack | Foto Strap

** Post contains some affiliate links

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