Side Hustle Series: What Type of Camera Should You Buy?

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type of camera

This post is a part of my new Side Hustle Series. I will be highlighting other people who are making extra money via a side hustle or business. I’m not sure if this will be a monthly or quarterly series. I hope you enjoy it.

Today I have a guest post from Dean Chambers. He turned a side hustle (photography) into a successful business. Continue reading as Dean discusses the type of camera that he uses and more.

For the last 10 years, I’ve been operating my own professional photography business. The number one question I’m asked is “What type of camera should people buy…?” The teacher in me wants to give a filibuster on what it means to be a professional photographer, and how you should know technique and be trained for years, but the reality is that with the emergence of the digital age, there are more and more people becoming interested in this profession. So I’ve decided to share my “Photography Starter kit”.

In the world of cameras, there are hundreds of brands and options. In this post, I will focus on the top brands which are Nikon and Canon.

I remember looking for my first digital camera ten years ago. Back then, I barely knew the difference between a Point & Shoot camera and a DSLR camera. Fast forward to today and virtually everyone has them hanging around their necks or some type of camera phone. Go to any electronics store and you’re bombarded with cameras of all sizes, shapes and prices to choose from. Where do you start? Why do they vary in price? Why do you need megapixels (MP)? What lenses do you buy? What accessories do you need?

The Basics

Let’s start with the basics. There are typically two types of digital cameras: cameras with a detachable lens (DSLRs) and cameras with built-in lenses (Point & Shoot). Both have their advantages. DSLRs generally produce better-quality images and have much more manual capability. You see, most professional photographers use these cameras, and they are usually more expensive. Point & Shoot cameras are more consumer-friendly. They weigh less and are more compact, which allows the regular hobbyist to pack lite.


There are hundreds of camera manufacturers in the world. For time and sanity sake, I will focus on the leading 2 brands in digital consumer photography which are Nikon & Canon. In the photography world, there is an ongoing war about which brand is better. I will say this, I own both brands and have shot professionally with both for many years. If you spend enough money on either side, the image quality will ultimately be the same.

How much should I pay?

My philosophy on price is simple. Don’t spend more than $600 on a type of camera unless you’re going to spend more than $3000 on a serious camera. Let me explain. Outside of special offers, deals or hookups, I feel that most cameras that range from $400-$2999 will ultimately yield the same results. Only when you go into the price range of $3000 or more will you see a justifiable reason to spend that much on a camera? Justifiable meaning that the image quality and/or performance of the camera is impeccable. However, there is a catch-22.

Just because you purchase a $2999 camera doesn’t mean that you’re a professional, nor does it mean that you will automatically get amazing photos. For this reason, I always suggest that amateurs/hobbyists start out with an entry-level Nikon or Canon. As far as equipment costs such as lenses, I tend to find that Nikon is more expensive.

However, I feel in general that Nikon has a better build quality than Canon. Once you start getting hired for bigger events, you might find that spending on equipment to get the best quality shot tends to get a bit costly. So as to not break the bank, you can get the needed additional equipment at a Philadelphia grip and electric rental, where you’ll be able to choose what you need for the shoot

The megapixel war

So why do megapixels (MP) mean so much? The first thing you read on the product description at the store is the MP size. I’ll say this again unless you’re going to spend $3000 on a camera with 30MP per image, the difference in MPs between any other cameras in the $400-$2999 range is negligible. Your eye won’t notice the difference between 12MP & 15MP. Also, when most people take pictures they use them on social media, which reduces image size down automatically by more than 80%.

Lenses for DSLRs

I see many people starting out in photography do this time and time again. They go to Best Buy, see a combo deal with the camera body + 18-55mm lens, bag, and SD card. Not to knock anyone who has done this, but I guarantee you will put most of that equipment on eBay in about a year. Not because it didn’t work, but because they now have a better lens, better SD card, and a better bag. If I could start over, I would start out with a different setup.

The way to go is to get the camera body only ($400), A 50mm f/1.8 lens ($125), A really good SD card Class 10 or better at least 30MB/s ($25), and if absolutely necessary a bag that will fit at least 3 lenses ($100). It will save you money in the long run. I would stay away from the zoom lenses initially. Zoom lenses have ranges such as 70mm-300mm f/5.6. Zoom lenses are great for shooting far objects, but by the time you’re truly ready to use one, you’ll realize that you should have put that money towards a better zoom lens.

Hopefully, you have an idea of what type of camera to buy. Make sure you check out Dean’s work at Miami Dean Photography. You can also view his work on Instagram @ Dean Chambers. Below are some examples of his work.

Are any of you photographers? Is photography a side hustle that you would consider?



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Jason Butler is the owner of My Money Chronicles, a website where he discusses personal finance, side hustles, travel, and more. Jason is from Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Savannah State University with his BA in Marketing. Jason has been featured in Forbes, Discover, and Investopedia.