Choosing an amateur Nikon camera and a lens for it

Every day I get questions like 'which digital SLR camera to buy Nikon'. In this article I will share my experience on this matter. I have shot with almost all Nikon DSLRs with different lenses and in different conditions. Some things in choosing a camera for beginners may not be obvious, but believe me, in this article, I have thought out everything as much as possible and adjusted it as much as possible for the optimal and truthful options for choosing.

Popular Nikon cameras

Popular Nikon cameras

To begin, I advise you to understand what is the camera forthen you need to determine the most suitable class of cameras that are suitable for the selected tasks.

All Nikon digital SLR cameras are very easily divided into 4 classes:

  1. Amateur cameras (entry level) - these cameras are aimed at people who just need to get a high-quality photo without delving into the subtleties and settings of the camera. These are the so-called cameras - 'pointed and took off '. Most often, amateur cameras are best suited to people who don't do photography professionally, they just want a good camera for home, leisure, travel, family, nature, etc.. The main requirements for such a camera are ease, simplicity in management, reasonable price.
  2. Advanced Amateur Cameras (Advanced) - these cameras have advanced functionality with a large number of specific settings that can be dealt with for a long time. These cameras are suitable for advanced amateurs who at least basic knowledge of camera settings either want to get a good potential for mastering photography skills.  These cameras are noticeably more expensive, heavier, but still with the same intuitive controls as entry-level cameras.
  3. Professional cameras (cameras of the upper price range) - these cameras are created for people who are engaged in photography professionally, they know a lot about photography and are not afraid of manual settings. Typically, these cameras have a much better body, functionality and support additional extensions and capabilities. These cameras are not suitable for amateurs as do not have automatic shooting modes and have a specific professional management with a small number of tips.
  4. Flagship professional cameras (TOP cameras) - these are cameras with exorbitant workmanship and functionality, are needed exclusively for professional purposes. These are the cameras that everyone else is equal to, like a 'flagship'. These cameras are not suitable for beginners and hobbyists.

Nikon itself makes the distribution even easier, only professional and amateur cameras exist on the official Nikon website, but wikipedia also divides Nikon cameras into 4 levels. By the way, the words 'camera', 'camera' and 'camera' in this article, and in many others, mean the same thing. View a graphical distribution of cameras by category can here.

Basic separation of Nikon interchangeable lens cameras

Basic separation of Nikon interchangeable lens cameras

For beginners and lovers I recommend entry-level Nikon amateur cameras.

A camera is a complex technical device, and technology does not stand still. It so happened that in my rating cameras from Nikon can be traced clear correlation of camera output - the newer the camera, the better it is. For 2017, following this logic and other details, the best amateur camera is Nikon D5600, this can be seen from the nameplate below.

When choosing a camera, I do not recommend paying much attention to the number of megapixels, in most cases a large number of megapixels is not in demand and even unnecessarily (these issues are covered in more detail here, here и here). Once again, in big letters - think about the fact that megapixels in amateur-grade DSLR cameras do not solve anything at all.

Nikon z50 - a mirrorless camera with very wide capabilities, from very fast burst shooting to 4K video. Rotary touchscreen display and many modern features.

Nikon D5600 - SLR camera, interesting by the absence of a low-pass filter (allows you to get very sharp photos), a rotatable touch screen, a good focusing system, continuous shooting at 5 frames per second and Full HD 60p video (with progressive scan). By itself, Nikon D5600 stuffed with a whole bunch of all sorts of modern 'gadgets'.

Each Nikon camera model is highlighted by a link that leads to its review, which describes all of its features.

The question of choice is very much limited by your budget.. I recommend buying a camera that fits into your budget based on the ratings below:

Model Rating Exit time The number of MP Speed ​​c / s Point focus. Video Comment
Z50 1 October 2019 20 11 (5) 209 4K 30p with autofocus The best option for an amateur camera
D5600 1 November 2015 24 5 (4) 39 Full HD 60p with autofocus Very nice amateur cam
D5500 2 January 2015 24 5 (4) 39 Full HD 60p with autofocus A very good option for an amateur camera
D5300 3 November 2013 24 5 (4) 39 Full HD 60p with autofocus A very good option for an amateur camera
D5200 4 November 2012 24 5 39 Full HD 60i with autofocus Great option for an amateur camera
D3300 5 January 2014 24 5 11 Full HD 60p with autofocus Great option for an amateur camera
D3500 6 August 2018 24 5 11 Full HD 60p with autofocus Great option for an amateur camera
D3400 7 August 2016 24 5 11 Full HD 60p with autofocus Great option for an amateur camera
D5100 8 April 2011 16,2 4 11 Full HD 30p with autofocus Good option with rotary display
D3200 9 24,2 4 11 Full HD 30p with autofocus Good option, no rotary display
D3100 10 December 2010 14,2 3 11 Full HD 24fps with autofocus A good option without a rotary display
D5000 11 June 2009 12,3 4 11 HD 720p, no autofocus Bad video quality
D3000 12 December 2009 10,2 3 11 No Old matrix, does not work well in dark conditions
D60 13 March 2008 10,2 3 3 No Old matrix, does not work well in dark conditions, few focus points
D40x 14 May 2007 10,2 3 3 No Old matrix, does not work well in dark conditions, few focus points
D40 15 December 2006 6,1 2,5 3 No Slow shooting speed, low ISO, few focus points
D50 16 July 2005 6,1 2,5 5 No There is a focus motor. Very small display, very old camera

All these cameras are cameras. Nikon DX  (cameras with a cropped sensor format APS-C). All amateur cameras except Nikon D50, do not have a built-in focus motor and should use only lenses to achieve auto focus Nikon AF-S, AF-I, AF-Por lenses third party manufacturersthat have a built-in focus motor. Also, all amateur cameras except Nikon D50, do not have an additional monochrome display for quick setup of basic functions. And yet these cameras do not have an additional front selector (disk), which on more advanced models is located under the power button. Nor do they have buttons for previewing the depth of field, and their built-in flash cannot remotely control external flashes in automatic mode. These cameras do not have a mode high speed sync with flashes for shooting at extremely short excerpt. Most of these functions are not in demand for the amateur and are not particularly critical when choosing a camera.

If there are financial constraints, then good budget option there will be a camera Nikon D3300, which I recommend as Nikon's first SLR camera for beginners and amateurs who no longer plan to take photographs.

Real prices on Nikon D3300 with lens 18-55 here, with a lens 18-105 here.

Among advanced amateur cameras, the best is full-frame Nikon D750. If you don’t feel like contacting the full frame, then the best option among cropped cameras is Nikon D7500.

Model Rating Exit time The number of MP Speed ​​c / s Point focus. Video Comment
D780 (FX) 1 January 2020 24,2 7 (12) 51 4K 30p with autofocus The best option for an advanced amateur camera. Full frame.
D750 (FX) 2 September 2014 24,3 6,5 51 Full HD 60p with autofocus A very good option for an advanced amateur camera. Full frame.
D610 (FX) 3 October 2013 24,3 6,0 39 Full HD 30p with autofocus A very good option for an advanced amateur camera. Full frame.
D600 (FX) 4 November 2012 24,3 5,5 39 Full HD 30p with autofocus A good option for an advanced amateur camera. Full frame.
D7500 5 April 2017 20,2 8 51 4K auto focus The best option for a cropped advanced amateur camera.
D7200 6 March 2015 24,0 6 (7) 51 Full HD 30p (DX) and 60p (1.3x) with autofocus A very good option for a cropped advanced amateur camera.
D7100 7 February 2013 24,0 6 (7) 51 Full HD 30p (DX) and 60i (1.3x) with autofocus A good option for a cropped advanced amateur camera.
D7000 8 November 2010 16,2 6 39 Full HD 24p with autofocus A good option for a cropped camera
D90 9 October 2008 12,3 4,5 11 HD 720p, no autofocus Good option, badly shoots video
D80 10 September 2006 10,2 3 11 No Old camera with a good feature set
D70s 11 April 2005 6,1 3 5 No Morally obsolete camera, has a small display, few focus points
D70 12 January 2004 6,1 3 5 No Morally obsolete camera, has a small display, few focus points

Advanced amateur cameras Nikon D70, D70s, D80, D90, D7000, D7100, D7200, D7500 are cameras Nikon DX. Cameras Nikon D600, D610, D750, D780 are full-length, Nikon class FX. Unlike amateur cameras, all advanced amateur cameras have a built-in focus motor and can use non-motorized, sometimes cheaper type optics AF (optics AF-S, AF-I, AF-P may also be suitable). These cameras have a monochrome display for quick setup of all basic functions, an additional selector under the shutter button, a depth of field preview button, and their built-in flash can remotely control other flashes automatically. All advanced amateur cameras except Nikon D70, D70s have very useful high speed sync function when using external flash units.

Attention: physical matrix size all-all Nikon DX cameras are the same. Physical matrix size all Nikon FX cameras, too, are the same. Matrix size Nikon FX is 2.25 times larger than Nikon DX. This is described in more detail in the section Fx / dx.

A good option for an advanced camera would be a model Nikon D7100, which I recommend as the first Nikon SLR camera for advanced users who want to get a huge amount of functionality for a not-so-large amount of money. There is also focus motor and nice control fast flash sync, a huge 3-inch display, the ability to control flashes through Nikon CLS, Live View mode and high-quality video shooting.

Real prices on Nikon D7100 BODY (without lens) can be viewed here, with a lens 18-55 here, with a lens 18-105 here.

About the video: Autofocus on all Nikon SLR cameras when shooting video does not work well or not very well. This is due to the fact that the mechanism of a digital SLR camera is poorly adapted for focusing with a raised mirror, which is required by the video mode. Typically, focusing when recording video occurs in contrast, rather than using the phase sensors of the camera. You need to be prepared for the fact that the speed of auto focus will sometimes be hundreds of times worse than with conventional compact cameras. If speed and focusing accuracy for video is very important, then I recommend thinking about buying mirrorless cameras Nikon z6, Nikon z7, Nikon z50.

I do not specifically affect professional cameras such as Nikon D500, D300s, D5, D4s, D850, D810, Df - because there are very slippery moments among the choice of a professional line camera. For professionals, this will be interesting performance plate.

Mirrorless cameras with Nikon Z mount

Nikon has full-frame mirrorless cameras Nikon z6 и Nikon z7as well as a small fleet of lenses for them. In general, these cameras are at mirror level. Nikon D750 or even just above her. With these cameras, lenses from SLR cameras can be used with the Nikon FTZ adapter. If there are a lot of troubles with accurate information, it is better to ask me on these cameras in the comments.


Usually the camera is sold separately from the lens, this is called bodyand sometimes the camera is sold with some kind of lens, this is called Kit, and the supplied lens is called 'whale lens'. Attention: take pictures with one camera body You can’t take pictures always with a lens.

Important: usually, if you buy a camera with a whale lens (Kit kit), then such a kit will cost less than buying a camera and lens separately.

Native (whale) lens

There are lenses very different for different purposes and for different tasks. Usually, the camera comes with a universal standard lens that can be used for basic photographic tasks. With a standard lens, you can shoot landscapes, and close-up objects, and portraits - almost anything. Usually the most common lens is Nikon 18-55 / 3.5-5.6 (one of 6 possible modifications) Instead of this lens, I highly recommend purchasing a kit with one of the following candidates:

  1. Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 18-105 mm 1: 3.5-5.6G ED SWM VR IF Aspherical
  2. Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 18-140 mm 1: 3.5-5.6G ED SWM VR IF Aspherical
  3. Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 18-200 mm 1: 3.5-5.6GII ED SWM VR IF Aspherical

The above lenses are suitable for all Nikon DX cameras.. In online stores, the names of lenses can be specified differently, but they can be easily determined by the value of the focal length, for example, 18-105, 18-140, 18-200, etc.

Very important: choosing a lens is just as important as choosing a camera. The lens is sometimes so important that it is better to take a cheaper / simpler camera, but with a higher quality lens. Take my advice - instead of buying and using a camera with a lens Nikon 18-55 / 3.5-5.6 (or any modification of it), look for the recommended options mentioned above.

If you're on a budget, the best versatile, fast, professional Nikon DX lenses are Nikon 17-55mm f / 2.8G ED IF AF-S DX Nikkor и Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 16-80mm 1: 2.8-4E N ED VR Nano Crystal Coat SWM IF Aspherical. ask note to the fact that this is purely my recommendations and in each individual case the recommendations can be very different.

What do all these mean incomprehensible coded designations in the names of the lenses can take a look here.

List of all professional lenses for Nikon DX cameras can be found here (there are 4 of them).

The choice of other non-universal lenses requires a separate large article, but in addition to the full-time (universal whale) lens, I recommend getting a fast, discrete fixed lens. Such a lens does not know how to zoom, but it has a very high aperture. Huge aperture will allow you to shoot without problems in poor lighting conditions, control the depth of field (create blurred background in photos), create a bokeh effect, get brighter and more vibrant colors in photos. In good light, such a lens allows you to shoot at a very short shutter speed, thereby 'freezing' objects in motion.

Recommended list of fast fixed lenses:

  1. Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 35mm 1: 1.8G SWM Aspherical (for any Nikon DX cameras)
  2. Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm 1: 1.8G SWM Aspherical (for any cameras)
  3. Nikon 50mm 1: 1.8D AF Nikkor (for any cameras with a focus motor)

Usually the first such lens is the so-called 'half a ruble'(the last two in the list). The entire lineup of fifty kopecks for Nikon cameras can be found here.

You will find a complete list of all Nikon DX lenses. here.

Thoughts on optional external flash find in the section Which flash to choose for Nikon cameras?

How to check the camera upon purchase is described in the section 'Camera check'.

Recommendations for choosing a Canon camera can be found in the 'What kind of amateur Canon SLR camera to buy'.

Nikon or Canon? I have touched upon this question in a series of articles on this subject: time, two, three.

My experience

I had many Nikon cameras at my disposal: D700 (about 4 years) D90 (3 years), D80 (2 years), D40 (2 years), D200 (1 year), Nikon D70s (half a year) Nikon D70 (half a year) Nikon D100 (half a year) Canon 350D (2 years), Canon 450D (year), Canon 300D (half a year), Canon EOS 5D (1 year), Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro (about a year) Nikon AF N8008s (2 years), many cameras of other brands (like Sony a7). Due to the fact that I am writing camera reviews and work professional photographer, then in my hands I held and shot almost all models of Nikon and Canon SLR cameras.

Over the past 2-3 years, everything orders I shoot on Nikon D700 or Nikon D610 (I take from friends). Also i like Sony a7which I use for the needs of this site. For home in 2015, I bought myself Nikon D40which I love very much for a pleasant color performance. In 2017, I bought and Nikon D70s, which is not a pity to use in any conditions, the gallery of images from this camera is located just below. In 2018, in fact, I got a gift Nikon D100, pictures from her can be looked here. I do not hesitate to shoot on old cameras, as I know for sure that the final result depends more on other factors (described here).

From personal experience I can add that choosing a camera is not an easy matter, it is especially difficult to choose the first camera, then everything becomes simpler and choosing something else becomes very, very simple. Take my advice - don't chase megapixels, they practically don't solve anything. I wish everyone to find exactly 'their very best camera', and also remember that important how to take pictures, but not by what means.

Alternative versions at the lowest price

If you have a urge to take pictures in your blood, and the budget for the purchase of an SLR camera is very limited, I recommend looking in the direction of used cameras. In used cameras are nothing wrong. For example, for only $ 100 can buy used Nikon D40 (Or D50, or D70, or D70s, or D80) with a whale lens Nikon 18-55mm f / 3.5-5.6GII ED AF-S DX Nikkor. Even such an old DSLR will in many ways be better than some modern digital soap dishes and even advanced cameras with interchangeable lenses, such as Nikon 1 J1.

Nikon D40 body on the secondary market can be found for 60-100 ye - this is one of the cheapest SLR cameras of all time. For 80-100 USD you can find a pretty super-zoom to it Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 18-135m 1: 3.5-5.6G ED SWM IF Aspherical or Nikon AF-S Nikkor 18-70mm 1: 3.5-4.5G ED DX SWM IF Aspherical and shoot for your own pleasure.

My practice has shown that The following models may be the cheapest and most functional.:

On this link you can see my picture gallery obtained with a fairly old camera Nikon D70 and a fast fifty-fifty lens Nikon 50mm 1: 1.8 AF Nikkor (MKII, Nikon JAPAN).

On this link You can see my gallery of pictures obtained with the help of an old man Nikon D100 (Nikon's first digital SLR camera in a classic case) paired with a fast fifty-pound lens Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm 1: 1.8 (MKII, MADE IN CHINA).

Imagine what can be removed on a better modern technology?

You will find many examples of inexpensive autofocus photo equipment among my galleries. here.

You can still get old soviet fast lens, such as MS Helios-81H 2/50 or any other inexpensive manual lenssuch as Nikon Nikkor-SC Auto 1: 1.4 f = 50mm и study just super-awesome shots, however, will have to lose auto focus.

Well, if you are a real ninja photographer and want to use some unusually stunning DSLR sword for a small amount of money, then I highly recommend that you look into my article Legends go to battle.

And that's not all, if you really want to shoot on full camera, then you can organize such a pleasure for yourself for just $ 240. How? Read in the section 'Full Frame for $ 240'.

If you’re not comfortable with Nikon amateur cameras, you can take a look a complete list of all Nikon Central Control Unitswhere you can find the top Nikon D1 professional cameras, D1h, D1x, D2h, D2x, D2hs, D2xs, D3, D3s, D3x, D4, D4s, D5as well as top-level cameras Nikon D100, D200, D300, D300s, D500, D700, D800, D800E, D810, D810a, D850... By the way, Nikon has also created a very interesting camera with a retro body design and no video recording capability - Nikon DF :).

Where to buy?

You can see prices and compare cameras and lenses in popular online catalogs:


Progress does not stand still, basically, the newer the camera, the better it is, but even with relatively old SLR cameras you can get wonderful image quality, since the photo quality affects not only the camera.

The most good modern cameras are (depending on the class):

  1. Nikon D3500 (amateur class, SLR camera, entry level)
  2. Nikon D5600 (amateur class, SLR camera with a rotary display)
  3. Nikon z50 (amateur class, mirrorless cropped camera with a rotary display)
  4. Nikon D7500 (advanced amateur class, cropped SLR camera)
  5. Nikon D780 (advanced amateur class, full-frame SLR camera)
  6. Nikon z6 (advanced amateur class, full-frame mirrorless camera)
  7. Nikon z7 (professional class, full-frame mirrorless camera, this class is not described in this article)
  8. Nikon D850 (professional class, full-frame SLR camera, this class is not described in this article)
  9. Nikon D6 (professional TOP full-frame SLR camera, this class is not described in this article)

To choose the best option, just decide on the budget and use my rating of cameras in the plate.

All prices for Nikon cameras (body or kit) can be viewed here. Or maybe someone will like Canon - you will find recommendations for choosing a Canon camera here.

I am constantly updating and supplementing this article. Last time the article was edited 11.06.2020/XNUMX/XNUMX (added information).

I don’t understand anything and I was lost in the choice!

Just tell me the budget that you are willing to spend on the camera and the purpose of buying the camera (what you will shoot for and in what) in the comments and they will tell you the best option. Anyway, ask any of your questions in the comments under this article (the site does NOT require absolutely no registration). You can consult me ​​directly on these contacts.

Material prepared Arkady Shapoval... Look for me on Youtube | Facebook | VK | Instagram | Twitter.

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Comments: 1 844, on the topic: Choosing an amateur Nikon camera and a lens for it

  • Olga

    Good afternoon.
    Please tell me what would you recommend to change your D60 camera to? I shoot mainly nature, city, landscapes with Nikkor 50mm f / 1.4G and Tokina 11-16mm f / 2.8. In the future, I plan to shoot the same thing for the soul plus birds.

    • Seladir

      Something from the D5x00 series on a 24MP matrix was a balanced version, and a 55-200 telephoto camera for birds.

      • Olga

        Thanks for the recommendations. But D7200 - for 27 thousand frames 430 euros - is it a normal option? I like that the body is with a motor.

        • Seladir

          I won't tell you about the price.
          Do you have optics without a motor? It just seems to me that having a camera with a screwdriver is relevant for those who already have such lenses on their hands, or just 10 years ago it was relevant when such used lenses were much more profitable. Now it is easier to focus on optics with a motor - it is newer, sharper, it will not buzz and scare birds away)

        • Victor

          The d7200 has many advantages over the 5xxx series, and the motor is just one of them.

          And non-motorized lenses are much more profitable today as well :)

          • Olga

            I ended up choosing the D7200. In complete delight. Yes, 50 without a motor, before you had to turn it manually.

          • Seladir

            Can you give examples of such lenses?

    • B. R. P.

      If the birds are wild 200mm. will be a little short, better than 300 or even more.

      • Seladir

        I agree. For walks in the park, the Canon 55-250mm is enough for me, but shooting really wild birds somewhere in the forest is a completely different league with different lenses.

  • Lyudmila

    Good day! Please tell me which lens is better to choose Nikon DX AF-P Nikkor 70-300mm 1: 4.5-6.3G ED VR or Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm 1: 4.5-6.3G ED VR or Nikon ED AF-S Nikkor 70 -300mm 1:4.5-5.6G VR? camera D5300? Does the mount with at least some protection and the versatility of the old model outweigh the faster and quieter focusing of the AF-P? still alarming, I read that if autofocus breaks down, the new model stops working, even in the manual.

    • Lyudmila

      I'm sorry, I was a little tricky with copying the names: Nikon DX AF-P Nikkor 70-300mm 1: 4.5-6.3G ED VR or Nikon ED AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm 1: 4.5-5.6G VR

      • Arkady Shapoval

        AF-P versions for d5300 just right

    • B. R. P.

      Outweighs or not - it's up to the photographer, based on individual circumstances. Then, full-frame focuses too quickly and not too noisy. The AF-P has a fully electronic manual focus ring and will not focus when off camera or if the camera is off, especially with a broken motor.

    • Lyudmila

      Thanks for the answers, I'll try what suits my soul during the shooting process and I'll take it.

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