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GPC blog which fin camera
By Oguzhan (Osan) Altun, Geneva Photo Club

The most frequent question that we receive from our students is : “I’m new to photography, which camera / lens should I buy”?

Buying a camera and photography equipment as a beginner is a difficult task – with so many offers and information, it can be really confusing. So we have prepared the following buying guide for the beginners, with prices that you can find in Geneva and Switzerland.

In this guide, we will suggest a complete kit for three different budgets for beginners. The prices are based on toppreise.ch current prices for Switzerland and can change over time. The same equipment will probably be more expensive in big retail stores like FNAC or Mediamarkt or InterDiscount – however you might get even better deals if you follow their promotions.

Of course buying a better camera / lens does NOT make you a better photographer:) Make sure to check our photography courses to learn how to use you camera and take better photos.

Cut to the chase, just tell me what to buy:

a) Budget: 500CHF

1. Camera Body: Nikon D3300 ~ 350chf
2. Lens: Nikon AF-S DX 35mm F/1.8G ~ 170chf

Total: 520 chf

Plus: Camera strap (~30chf) & Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop (~12chf/month)

b) Budget: 750chf
1. Camera Body:
    Nikon D5500 (for touchscreen, swivel screen and wifi vs d3300): 620chf
    OR Nikon D3300 + 18-105 kit : 520chf
2. Lens: Nikon AF-S DX 35mm F/1.8G: 170chf

Total: 750-800 chf

Plus: Camera strap (~40chf) & Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop (~12chf/month)    
c) Budget: 1500 chf

1. Camera Body: Nikon D5500: 620chf
2. Lens #1: Nikon AF-S DX 35mm F/1.8G: 170chf
3. Lens #2: NIKON VR II DX 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G ED: 650chf

Total: 1400-1500 chf

Plus: Camera strap (~30chf), Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop (~12chf/month)

Note that this guide is not a comprehensive list of equipment that will work for every type of photographer. As your photography becomes more specialized — portraiture, landscapes, wildlife, or anything else — you will gravitate towards more specialized equipment as well. The recommendations above can be considered an all-purpose starter kit rather than a list tuned to one specific type of photographer.

For the best prices in Switzerland, check the price comparator toppreise.ch. You will get it to your address with Swiss guarantee. To buy second hand, check out Anibis.ch (free) and also ricardo.ch (paid).

GPC blog Nikon D3300 Body

Choosing the camera “body” and make:

The camera technology changes all the time, so do not buy too expensive cameras if you don’t know exactly what you are paying for. If you will buy second hand, don’t buy more than 3 year old camera bodies.

Interchangeable lens vs lens fixed on the body?

Definitely interchangeable. Forget about the “super-zooms”.

DSLR or Mirrorless:

Having a mirror in the camera body adds to the size, but enables you to see through the lens, helps to focus faster and prolongs battery life  as you won’t use the back-screen so often. For beginners, we recommend DSLR’s. Only if size is a very big issue for you, then you can choose one of Sony’s E-Mount (not A-Mount) mirrorless offers (eg Sony A6000).

GPC blog Nikon FX and DX Sensor

Sensor size – cropped or full frame:

This relates to the size of the sensor of your cameras, and is in fact the most important choice that can have a significant impact on the quality of your photos. We recommend a cropped sensor camera (Nikon: DX, Canon: APS-C) for beginners.

Nikon vs Canon vs Sony

Another hot debate – the answer is that it doesn’t matter too much. They are all excellent companies.

If you want a DSLR, our recommendation for beginners is Nikon, because they have a slight edge vs Canon on the entry segment. Canon has innovated better lately for the professional segment – so they would be our recommendation for seasoned photographers. For the mirrorless, Sony has the best mirrorless offerings around – check the A6000 for the entry segment and of course the Alpha series for full frame. Fuji could be a decent option too.
Nikon D3300 Cropped vs Full Frame Sensor Sony Mirrorless

GPC blog sony ilce7s b alpha a7s mirrorless digital 1044728

Choosing the lens (es) :

"You marry your lenses, the body is like the mistress. – they come and go…", Anonymous

More important choice than the camera, and much better investment because the technology doesn’t change much. Do not hesitate to look at anibis.ch to find good deals on second hand good lenses.

1. Kit lenses: The classic 18-55mm lenses are “ok” for overall walk around photos, but quite limited in both range and aperture. If you have the budget, you can replace it with 18-135 (or 200) for extra range for portraits. These are “jack of all trades, master of none” type of lenses – they cover a huge range but do just an average job at any focal length.
2. Prime lenses: These are small specialists – they cannot zoom but they do a great job at low light and they can isolate subjects much better. They are also extremely light, small and cheap. If you don’t mind changing lenses, we recommend a prime lens any day over (or in addition to) a kit lens. We recommend Nikon AF-S DX 35mm F/1.8G (for all budget levels.

GPC blog lenses

Camera Strap:

The cheapest and a must in our opinion! The straps that come with your camera are extremely short, therefore very uncomfortable to carry around. Plus you advertise your camera’s brand for free!

Wearing a camera directly over your neck is very unhealthy, and it will make you hate your camera very soon. Wearing a long strap around the shoulder as well as the neck distributes the weight.

We recommend any strap around 30-50chf price – just go to any camera store and get something that is long enough to hang on one shoulder and swing the camera on your other side. Our recommended brand is BlackRapid, but feel free to experiment and find one to your taste.

GPC blog Hang Camera Strap 350


Only if you like low light and night photography.

For portability, we definitely recommend checking out the Joby Gorillapods – they are very portable and if you choose the right model, can be very sturdy too. For the DX cameras, go for the Gorillapod SLR-Zoom (76chf).

GPC blog Gorillapod1

For the classic tripods, do not go for the cheapest options, as they are either too heavy or too light & badly made. Check the Manfrotto website to find a suitable one for yourself. If you really want the best quality, then go for Gitzo.

We recommend carbon-fiber tripod legs that can go as high as your eye level plus a joystick tripod head for easy alignment.

GPC blog tripod


We definitely recommend Adobe’s Creative Cloud photography plan (11.9chf / month) that includes Lightroom and Photoshop. Lightroom especially is all you will need for an end to end software to manage your photos, while Photoshop is the most powerful photo editor around.

You can download both of these software for a 30 days trial, and then register to our Lightroom course to learn how to use it.

GPC blog LR

Author's bio


Oguzhan (Osan) Altun is a freelance photographer based in Geneva, and one of the founder members of the Geneva Photo Club. He specializes in landscapes, portraits and event photography.

He specializes in landscapes, portraits and event photography.

His passion for life shows in his photos with vibrant colors and an edgy style. He continuously strives to show something special about his subject and push the boundaries every time.

His teaching style combines 10 years of training experience in corporate life with contagious passion for photography and the best training materials available online on the net. He is crisp, to the point, and focused on getting the participant practice what she/he learned.

His portfolio is available at his website Altun Photography and his latest work in instagram (@altuno) and on his Facebook page.