Best Camera Tripods of 2017

If you are the proud owner of a digital SLR camera, you will probably find that you need a tripod at some point. Tripods are necessary for a number of different situations: from long exposure to astrophotography, to telephoto lenses and adding yourself to group photos. Getting extreme close ups, shooting in low light conditions, reducing vibration in videos – all of these situations and plenty more demand a tripod.

A cursory search for DSLR tripods will turn up a huge selection of products and wildly different price points. It’s important to note that, as with many DSLR accessories, paying more to get quality products is important. Cheaper tripods might do the trick for less expensive entry-level cameras with kit lenses (which are not very heavy). For more expensive – and, thus, heavier – equipment, a cheap tripod won’t be able to safely hold it, and you could ruin your gear.

In addition to ensuring you get a tripod that can accommodate the weight of your camera body and lenses, you also want to factor in how you’ll be using the tripod. For example, if you do a lot of hiking to shoot landscapes, you need a tripod that isn’t super heavy or bulky – you have enough weight to worry about without a tripod adding a bunch to it.

One of the most important specifications of the tripod you buy is weight rating. Weight rating is the maximum weight that the tripod can hold. Understanding the weight rating you need comes from the weight of the camera body plus the weight of the lens (or lenses) you will use most often.

The weight of the tripod is probably an important factor, too. Tripods can be heavy, and if it’s something you’ll be carrying around for long periods of time or on uneven terrain, you might want a lighter model. Remember that the tripod’s weight will add weight to the gear you’re already carrying.

Lighter weight tripods are either designed with a lower weight rating, or they are made of lightweight, sturdy material. These factors can impact the total cost of the tripod.

Weight rating and the weight of the tripod itself are just two of the aspects that you should consider before buying. Some additional features of tripods include:

  • Tripod height: The height of the tripod should match or exceed yours so that you don’t have to bend down to see the viewfinder
  • Durability: Depending on what you’ll be putting the tripod through, and based on the climate and location of your shoots, you probably want to consider how durable the tripod is
  • Stability: Related to weight rating and durability, the stability of the tripod should be excellent so that you don’t have to worry about damaging your expensive equipment while you’re trying to catch the perfect shot
  • Legs: Tripod legs will be tubular or non-tubular. These types will help indicate how they lock. Additionally, legs will have a few segments – more segments often mean less stability, so keep that in mind
  • Feet: Tripod feet come in different types and can be useful for certain types of shoots. It’s preferable to have replaceable feet in case you want to switch out to a different style
  • Head: The three types of tripod heads are ball head, gimbal head, and pan head.
  • Release: How you get the camera on and off the plate and the tripod is important to some photographers. More expensive tripods generally have a much more effective quick release system.

A good tripod will last a long, long time, and it will enable you to get the gorgeous shots you want without a lot of fuss. Our guide will cover some different options for you to consider based on your budget or shooting needs.

Our #1 Recommended Tripod

Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB Aluminum

Our top pick offers a weight capacity of 13.2 pounds, and it extends to 68.5 inches. It is a bit heavy itself, meaning it might not be best for backpacking or travel, but it is a good everyday tripod. The Alta Pro is an excellent all-around tripod, featuring a durable ball head that allows single handed positioning. It’s super versatile and has a fantastic range of movement to let you get the perfect shot. It’s a high end tripod without the high end price tag – you can’t get the same features and construction on any other tripod for this price.

Best Budget Tripod

SLIK Sprint Pro II

The SLIK Sprint Pro II is a great bargain for entry-level DSLRs and some mid-ranges, with a max weight capacity of 4.5 pounds. It easily extends up to 64 inches and works well for low shots, too. Because it is lightweight, it’s good for travel. It folds to a small and compact size for easy storage in a backpack or travel bag. However, it doesn’t have a center hook, so users should take care in windy or rocky shooting situations. It’s nicely priced and has great construction and durability for a budget tripod.

Best Travel Tripod

Manfrotto Be Free Compact Aluminum Tripod

Manfrotto is a well-known and highly respected manufacturer of camera tripods. The Be Free compact tripod is our pick for best travel tripod because it is well constructed and lightweight for the price point. At a mere 3.1 pounds, the Be Free holds up to 8.8 pounds and stays sturdy. Its portability does mean that it is not quite as tall as some other tripods – the max height is 56.7”. Nonetheless, the Manfrotto Be Free is a fantastic travel tripod that will go with you anywhere.

Best Professional Tripod

Gitzo GT2543L Mountaineer

The Gitzo GT2543L Mountaineer is a bit of a beast, and it’s definitely more expensive than many of the tripods that we’ve reviewed. But if you have a professional camera and heavier lenses, it’s imperative that you have a well-constructed tripod that can both support the weight and stay sturdy. It supports up to 39 pounds and features a built-in hook and G-Lock legs. Whether you want to extend it to its full height (70.47”) or use it for ground level shots, the versatile and rock solid Mountaineer is for you.

Best Lightweight Tripod

Sirui T-025X Carbon Fiber

When every ounce counts, you need a lightweight tripod that can still handle your gear. The Sirui T-025X can support up to 13.2 pounds but it only weighs about 2 pounds. It sets up and locks quickly and easily. It features separate knobs to allow for panoramic captures. The leg design enables you to shoot standing or utilize it for a ground level or table top tripod. For hikers and travelers, this is a great lightweight tripod that has quality construction and durability.

Best Video Tripod

Benro S7

Shooting videos with your DSLR requires a good tripod that minimizes shake and can handle your camera. The Benro S7 is designed with videographers in mind, and is well constructed and functional. It also features an S7 Video Head which will give you better control over panning and smoother results. Both the aluminum and carbon fiber versions are fairly heavy, but necessarily so. Videos demand the sturdiest tripods for the best results.

Best Tabletop Tripod

JOBY Gorrilapod SLR Zoom

If tall tripods aren’t your thing, tabletop tripods might be right up your alley. We like the Gorillapod because it’s much more than just a tabletop tripod. It is crazy flexible and can actually be used in a number of different situations. It’s popular for vloggers and for low perspective photography. It is incredibly affordable, so it’s worth checking out even if you don’t think tabletop tripods are for you.

 

A Guide to the Best DSLR Camera Accessories of 2017

Every Digital SLR camera owner knows that there is more to photography than just the camera. Photographers simply need gear and accessories. If you are new to DSLR, you might be a little overwhelmed by all the options. Some accessories are more useful than others, and what you need depends entirely on what kind of photography you do primarily.

There are a few must-have accessories (we’ll cover those first) and plenty of optional gear that you can either pick up now or hold off until much later.

Here is our complete guide to DSLR camera accessories.

Essentials

What we’re calling “essentials” are accessories that you’ll want to pick up right away, though some are more important than others, of course.

Lenses

Your DSLR has limitless potential, but much of that power comes from proper lenses. Your DSLR likely came with a kit lens that will get you by for a while, but you’ll eventually want to start thinking about adding lenses to your repertoire.

Lens buying can be a bit overwhelming itself – there is a huge number of options for every brand. Our guides to lenses for Canon and Nikon cover some of our budget-friendly favorites for both brands.

Our Recommendations:

Check out our DSLR lens guides for Canon and Nikon, featuring our favorite lenses for any occasion.

Bags

A good, sturdy camera bag is an absolute necessity as soon as you start moving around with your camera and lenses. You want a bag or backpack that fits all of your gear comfortably and securely. Most photographers are very particular about their bag – it needs to support the gear that they have plus be comfortable to carry.

There are several types of bags on the market. There are camera/gear cases, backpacks, and messenger bags, to name the most popular styles. Bags come at nearly every price point imaginable, so there are several factors to consider when you start looking. You’ll also want to think about where and how you’ll be using the bag – do you need weatherproofing? Do you want room for other things (laptops, etc.)? Take some time to find the perfect bag for all of your needs. Here are a few of our favorites to get you started.

Our Recommendations:

Best Messenger Bag: Think Tank Retrospective 7

We like this bag’s ruggedness and functionality. It might seem a bit pricey, but it should last a long time and work hard. It fits pro cameras plus lenses and other gear, so there’s plenty of room for any photographer.

Best Backpack: Lowepro Fastback BP 250 AW II

Backpacks are great for everyday use, but they are especially great for travel. Our pick for best backpack is the Lowepro Fastback, which is designed for travel. It features great storage options and easy access, in addition to room for extras like a laptop.

Memory Cards

While you may already have some storage, we suggest grabbing a backup early on. It’s incredibly easy to run out of space, and that is the worst kind of frustration when you’re traveling, in the middle of a shoot, or somewhere cool trying to capture some great shots.

It’s easy and cheap to find memory cards, whether you have slots for SD, CF, or both.

Our Recommendations:

SD Cards: 2 Pack SanDisk SDHC Card

CF Cards: SanDisk Ultra 16GB CF

Batteries

Like memory cards, spare batteries are an accessory we recommend picking up sooner rather than later. Many batteries last a long time, so it’s likely that you won’t need the spare every time. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry in this instance.

Our Recommendations:

Grab batteries specific to your camera, and consider battery holders and quick chargers if you have the need.

Tripods

Tripods are necessary for many kinds of shoots. Good tripods can be expensive. But inexpensive tripods can be useless, or even dangerous. It’s worth it to save up for a tripod you’ll actually be able to use rather than making a hasty purchase of a cheap tripod.

Our Recommendations:

Budget Tripod: Slik Sprint Pro II

If you are looking for a budget tripod that is affordable and good for travel, the Slik Sprint Pro is a good bargain for the money. It holds up to 4.5 lbs and can extend to 64 inches.

Best Tripod: Manfrotto Be Free

Manfrotto is *the* name in tripods, and this model is a great one. Though the price might seem a little high to a newcomer to DSLR, it’s actually a very fair price for a good, solid tripod. It supports up to 8.8 lbs and is well constructed for usability.

Cleaning Gadgets

You’ll want to be able to clean your lenses and camera at any time, so it’s good to get cleaning materials right away. There are plenty of options for cleaning kits and gadgets, but the most essential thing you need now is something to easily clean lenses. Our picks are chemical-free cleaners you can carry with you anywhere

Our Recommendations:

LensPen

Giottos Rocket Air Blaster

Less Essential

The second section of this guide covers what we consider to be “less essential;” that is, these are accessories that you probably don’t need right away (though it always depends, of course).

External Hard Drive

Eventually, you’ll need to do something with all those photos. An external hard drive is the best option (unless you’re springing for cloud storage) to keep your pictures organized and not eating up valuable space on your computer. There are tons of options for hard drive, and plenty of storage options, and the price of them has gone down significantly in the past few years.

Our Recommendation:

The Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB Portable Hard Drive  is a nicely-priced terabyte of storage in a super-portable package.

Filters

There are lots of types of lens filters out there meant to do anything from protecting your lens to providing options for more creative shots. You’ll see UV filters, polarizing filters, neural density filters and more. Polarizing filters are great for landscape shots as they help reduce reflections and darken the sky. UV filters are a must have for protecting your lens from dust and moisture. You may not need filters right away, but they are worth looking into down the road.

Our Recommendation:

Give the Tiffen Circular Polarizer  a try and see how polarizing makes a difference in your shots.

Neck Straps

The neck strap that comes with your DSLR camera might work just fine for you. However, for some, these are very uncomfortable and must be replaced as soon as possible. Or, some photographers want a more attractive one than the stock strap. Whatever the case, there are plenty of options out there for replacement neck straps. There are also wrist straps, cross body straps, and two-way straps if you’re interested in additional ways to wear your camera.

Our Recommendation:

Miggo Two-Way Carrying Strap

External Flash

The built-in flash is not always great, and many cameras don’t even have one. Natural light is great to shoot with, but inevitably you will want some artificial light source. Your best option is a first-party external flash (Nikon and Canon), but there are some good third-party options as well.

Our Recommendations:

Canon 600EX-RX Speedlite Flash

Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash

Remote Shutter Release

A remote shutter release is an important addition to your tripod, especially if you intend to take long exposures or group photos that include you. Shutter release remotes can be wireless or tethered, and there is a tremendous range of price points for them. They tend to work only for one specific brand, so if you get an off-brand, make sure to check compatibility.

Our Recommendations:

To start out, we recommend this budget-friendly AmazonBasics Wireless Remote, available for both Canon and Nikon.

Optional

Our final accessories category is one we’re calling “optional.” These are accessories that you may or may not need, now or later.

Photo Editing Software

The question of whether to buy photo editing software is a big one. Software can be expensive and complicated to learn. However, serious photographers often decide it is necessary to spend the money and get the best. There are some free photo editing apps and software that you can play around with until you’ve saved up for the more expensive ones, though – GIMP and Photoscape are a few highly rated options.

Our Recommendations:

For paid software, the go-to is of course Photoshop. Choose from Photoshop Elements (for new photo editors and casual photographers) or Photoshop Lightroom (for more complexity and options).

Rain Protectors

If you’ll be out in the elements, having a rain jacket for your DSLR is a smart move. Otherwise, you run the risk of damaging your equipment. Even cameras with weather sealing can use a little extra protection. There are pretty drastic price differences out there, but we recommend spending a little more on a quality cover is worth it.

Our Recommendation:

We like the Vortex Media Pro Storm Jacket Cover for its reasonable price and intelligent design.

Light Reflectors

Reflectors are a great option when you want to make the most of natural light. This is especially useful in outdoor portraits, where you want to fill in the shadows without using flash. They make a huge difference in portrait photography, so it’s well worth it to pick one up if you do a lot of it. There are also differently colored options out there for when you want to get even more specific with lighting in your shots.

Our Recommendation:

This 5-in-1 collapsible reflector has everything you need.

 

 

Best Camera Drones of 2017

A drone, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), is a remote controlled aircraft that only recently entered the market for amateur use. Previously one might have seen them being flown by the military. Now that people recognize their potential as a utility aircraft, a variety of drones in all shapes and sizes are appearing in the skies, offering their pilots unparalleled views.

Before drones, extended selfie sticks and climbing trees seemed like too much of a hassle (or hazard) to get good videos or photos from above. Depending on their battery life and optimal range, drones can offer you views for miles around or get into tight spaces for the most difficult of shots. Either way, choosing the right drone is going to be a challenge, which is why we’ve prepared a guide to help you decide the one that’s good for your wallet, skills, and needs.

Types of Drones

The drone frenzy doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. In the optics and video making world, the view and perspective provided by drones can be breathtaking. Not only are people snatching up drones, but they are specifically after camera equipped drones.

These drones come equipped with different quality of cameras while others are built to hold smaller cameras and GoPros. Depending on your experience level and the shooting you want to do, different drones will be more applicable to you than others. The higher the quality and the heavier the payload, the more expensive the drone. We don’t recommend fidgeting with the drones that come with cameras, as the drones themselves are extremely delicate.

You’ll see a variety of drones on the market, but the majority of them are going to be quadcopters, which offer the most stable flight. However, you’ll see everything from cute little single propellers to massive behemoths that can sport six or eight propellers.

Brands

Because drones are a relatively new technology available to the public, it can be difficult to choose a brand to place your trust in. Smaller, beginner drones are going to be the most numerous of the drone types, and thus there are many manufacturers. However, there are a few brands that have separated themselves from the competition and notoriety within the drone community:

  • DJI—One of the most well-known drone manufacturers. They make the “Phantom” model which is a very popular line of drones.
  • Yuneec—Manufacturers higher quality drones with advanced systems. Typically marketed towards the higher end hobbyist and professional.
  • Autel—A newer startup that created the X-Star (listed below). As a smaller company, they have a create customer service reputation aside from having a reliable drone.
  • Force1—Makers of smaller, more numerous drones that don’t have high-quality cameras, but are still a joy to fly.

 

The Beginners

These drones are the cheapest on the market, but that shouldn’t be a reflection of their trustworthiness. While inexpensive, they can still carry basic cameras (most being 720p quality) or different types of GoPros. They’ll get the job done and be generous to your wallet.

They are the perfect entry-level drones not just because they are small and cheap, but because their flight time is usually pretty short which keeps them in range of you or whoever is the pilot. As a result, you should probably fly them around or close to home for an easy recovery.

 

Best drones under $100

Syma X5C 

The X5C is one of the cheapest drones on our list and one of the best in terms of all-around quality. The photos and videos you take on its HD camera are pretty standard and nothing too special. With a flight time of 6 minutes, you’re pretty limited on what you’re able to do, which also makes it a versatile indoor/outdoor aircraft.

While the flight time is indeed small, it doesn’t limit the aircraft on where it can fly. The indoors are a perfect environment to operate without having to worry about the wind taking it and throwing it off course. Onboard nighttime lights will also come in handy if you’re looking to fly it in the evening.Syma X5C Quadcopter

 

TOZO Q1012 X8tw Drone RC Quadcopter

The X8tw is a unique drone in that its 720p HD camera comes built into the body of the drone. This will appeal to concerned drone users if the drone malfunctions or bumps into the something—the camera is protected within the body. This doesn’t mean that you should fly around recklessly!

You can fly the X8tw with either a remote control or by your fingers if you choose to download the app for iOS or Android. This drone is perfect for beginners looking to mesh their skills with aerial photography and flying in general.

 

SZJJX APP-RC Drone

The APP-RC takes the cake for one of the coolest looking drones of any price. It looks like something you’d find in a video game or movie. Better yet, it almost fit’s in the palm of your hand with its built in 480p (0.3MP HD) camera. The APP-RC used unusually advanced technology for its control and imaging systems, allowing the user to see through the eyes of the drone from a smartphone app and recall with a push of a button on the controller.

Its propellers are completely encased in air guards. Most drone’s you’ll see only have the air guards around portions of the propellers because they add weight and shift airflow around the drone. If you end up dropping the APP-RC, chances are it’ll fair a lot better than most drones. Its small size will also help in minimizing damage.

The camera isn’t the best quality in the world and flight time is about six minutes. That being said, the fact that it does have a camera mean’s you’ll still be able to use it to take pictures, you just won’t have much time to do so. Regardless, the APP-RC is still a very reliable drone that will be fun for everyone from the beginner to the pro.

 

GordVE RC DroneGordVE RC Drone

The GordVE is also another drone with a sleek, almost sci-fi look design. It’s about twice the size of the APP-RC and is praised by users just as much.  A flying time of around 8-9 minutes gives it a little boost over the APP-RC. The drone also comes equipped with a headless mode, giving it increased agility and mobility.

The most notable fact about the GordVE is its camera, capable of 720p and 1080p, which is almost unheard of for a drone of this size and price. Furthermore, if you happen to have a VR headset or glasses, you can connect to your phone and see what the drone sees. Now that is some next level technology.

 

 

Best drones under $200

 

Holy Stone F181 RC Quadcopter Drone

Holy Stone’s F181 is a comfortable compromise between affordability and versatility as a beginner’s drone. It’s 2MP (megapixel) will deliver you crisp photos from wherever it’s positioned in the sky. Perhaps its greatest quality is its “headless” system, which means the drone will always fly forward, backward, side to side regardless of which way the “front” of the drone is facing. WiHoly Stoneth different percentages of power settings, this is perfect for beginners looking to test their skills over time.

One drawback of the F181 is its meager flight time, anywhere between 7-9 minutes and a range of only 100 meters. This means that it’s preferable for beginners who aren’t looking to go up high or too far away. With a total charge time of around 80 minutes, it seems a little unbalanced regarding what you get from flight time.

As a result, you should plan out where and what you want to see with your drone before you lift off. Once the charge runs out, your drone should be nearby, or in your hands otherwise, it’ll drop out of the sky!

 

DBPOWER Headless Mode Quadcopter

The DBPOWER drone is well liked among the drone community for its durability and maneuverability. Many users have complimented the DBPOWER on its ability to withstand (moderate) punishment and keep flying. It has a different overall design than Holy Stone’s and TOZO’s with a small body and its propellers located inside their respective guards.

Like the F181, the DBPOWER can be controlled via an app on your smartphone. Even more, you can tilt your smart phone in any direction, and FPV will respond accordingly. If you’re feeling brave, give the DBPOWER’s 360-degree flip capability a try! The DBPOWER comes with a 720p HD camera that will have to be set manually before flight.

 

Force1 U45W Blue Jay

The Force1 Blue Jay is a cutting-edge beginners drone, mainly due to its features and capabilities that allow the user a wide range of viewing and function. Like some of the drones on this list, it is controllable via WiFi and a smartphone app and can be viewed through a VR headset/glasses.

One of the Blue Jay’s most interesting features is its ability to fly a set path unassisted from a pilot. If you’re unsure about your skills as a pilot, you can try out the Blue Jay’s onboard navigation and allow it to fly itself to its destination along a series of points.

 

Force1 UDI U818AForce1

Force1 also manufacturers the UDI drone. This drone is somewhat similar in design to the Blue Jay and just as fancy when it comes to capabilities. The UDI shares the same route mode that the Blue Jay has, enabling it to fly along a series of points that you create for it.

A 720p/2mp camera is perfect for a beginner pilot and photographer. As a forethought, you should try mastering the drone before you try to take the craziest shots possible.

 

 

The Hobbyists

Some people like the skip cheaper drones and go straight to the best sellers. Companies such as DJI and Yuneec are some of the most well-known drone makers due to their unique design of drone. While the following drones aren’t necessarily made for children, they’re not the most difficult to handle either. If your child or friend who has no experience with drones, check out one of the ones below. Be sure they practice long before they start pulling crazy maneuvers and flips.

These drones will probably require less assembly and an easier learning curve than the ones built for pros but need more patience and practice than the beginners. Since they are more pricey, we recommend you study tutorials or even converse with fellow owners about your newer drone if possible.

 

Best drones under $500

 

Force1 F100 Ghost 

The F100 Ghost is a basic design for a much lower price than drones that come with their cameras or GoPros. The F100 specifically can carry the GoPro Hero 3 or 4. Keep in mind this will add extra weight to the drone and detract from total flight time. Regardless, it will save you from having to buy a more expensive drone that will come with a camera equipped.

Drones can make a lot of noise with their fast spinning propellers (not counting how many of them they have). The F100 utilizes brushless fans that spin more quietly. If you have neighbors that were upset at the sound of your last drone, they’ll be much more accepting of this one. If you’re feeling even more daring, try testing out the F100’s maneuverability in a 360-degree loop!

 

Parrot Bebop 2 FPV – WhiteParrot

The Bebop compliments its cute appearance with an arrangement of stats and abilities that make it worth its price tag. First and foremost, the camera shoots 1080p videos and 14mp pictures, which is pretty high quality for a drone of its size and price. The camera itself is built into the body of the drone, so there’s need to worry about the drone crashing and crushing the camera under it.

The Bebop comes with a state of the art controller along with VR goggles (connected via the smartphone app), so you can see through the eyes of the drone. This feature can provide you with enhanced mobility and awareness of the drone’s surroundings.

What many users have enjoyed about the Bebop is its near half-hour flight time, which is a huge boost over the beginner drones. That being said, using the Bebop’s smart features to keep it safe and within range will dramatically extend its lifetime.

Best drones under $800

 

DJI Phantom P3-STANDARD Quadcopter Drone

The Phantom is probably one of the better all-around drones in every aspect compared to drones both more or less expensive. An extended 25 minutes of flight time is sure to give you enough time to accomplish what you want to see or shoot with its attached 2.7K video/12mp camera. This camera is a much higher quality photo/video taker than any other drone before it, which is why it’s the most popular. You’ve probably seen someone’s phantom flying around with its distinctive white and red paint scheme.

The Phantom’s flight controls can be a little tricky, so we recommend experience with easier or small drones, to begin with. The Phantom uses WiFi, GPS, and an onboard compass to maintain its flight, and having complete control over all is going to take some practice.

However, once you master having to handle the “flying samurai sword” as one user joked, you can expect your videos and pictures to turn out even better.

DJI

DJI Spark

The DJI Spark is the first “mini” drone to make our hobbyist’s list. The 12mp/1080p camera and video automatically qualify it in the optics business, but what makes it worth its price tag?

When we think of mini-drones, we’re normally aware of their short flight time. However, the Spark uses a more powerful 11.4V LiPo battery, doubling it’s smaller cousin’s flight time from 8-9 minutes to about 16 to 17 minutes depending on flight patterns. Like most of the hobby drones on this list, a smartphone app allows you to see where the drone is going while you use a remote control to dictate its movements.

Since the Spark is one of the latest pieces of DJI technology and the smallest at that, it comes with propeller guards for increased protection against accidents. Especially with the price involved with the Spark, you want to take every precaution possible to ensure its safety.

 

DJI Phantom 3 Professional 

The Phantom 3 is the face of the drone industry, and its line of products is probably one of the most numerous in the sky (discounting smaller, indoor drones). The Phantom 3 has a wide reputation for also being the best all-around drone for a number of reasons including price, flight time, and camera quality.

A 4k UHD(30 frames per second)/12mp video and camera are some of the most high-quality optics available to amateurs for under a grand. The Phantom sits right on the median between amateur and pro, with most drones following being more for professionals with specific jobs.

If you’re a beginner looking to jump right into the Phantom 3, then you’re in luck. The Phantom 3 comes with a beginner’s system that will show you the basics of this advanced drone before you start to fly like an experienced pilot. This drone has just about everything you could ever need. Its various systems will allow you to get precise shots and remain aloft for just over twenty minutes.

The photo taking is amazing, but the Phantom 3 is known primarily for the 4k video quality, almost unparalleled in the drone market unless you want to spend more money. With the drone’s versatility, it seems ludicrous to not take advantage of long video shots as the drone flies overhead.

 

Autel Robotics X-Star Premium Drone

The Autel X-Star is a simple looking drone not too unlike the Phantom 3. A 4k camera separates it from the competition. The X-Star is unique with its smartphone/tablet app in that iAutelf the app crashes or your phone dies during flight, the remote control has an LCD light that will tell you when the battery is low. That being said, you should (and are required) to keep the drone within sight.

The mounting device linking the drone with the camera is removable. The X-Star gives you the option of mounting a different camera or trying out modifications. If you do want to modify the drone in any way, you should consult drone forums for advice before trying to pry pieces away from the body.

 

 

The Pros

As you can probably tell by now, flying drones is no easy feat. The price tag and learning curve are directly related—as one increases, so does the other. The following drones are equipped with (or can carry) some of the best quality cameras that are drone applicable.

These drones aren’t for beginners. The experienced drone pilot will have good knowledge of a particular aircraft’s advanced systems in order to maximize the efficiency of photo or video taking. They will also know the basics on how to keep the aircraft out of harm’s way. This is why you’ll commonly see the operators of these drones with experience in a variety of other drones.

 

Best drones under $1000

 

Yuneec TYPHOON Flight Aerial Videography HexacopterYuncee

The Typhoon has an even more intricate design as a hexacopter with six rotating propellers. This drone marks the transition from amateur to professional with its hefty price tag. The Typhoon’s advanced GPS system allows it to track the user without controls from a remote or phone. Whether you’re walking, running, or swimming, the Typhoon will follow at a distance and provide you with unbeatable views from above with 4k, Ultra HD quality.

  • A notable feature of the Typhoon is the presence of a fail-safe rotor system. In the event one or more propellers fail, the drone will automatically adjust to the loss of power and keep itself from crashing to the ground as long as possible until you can recover it.

There are similar drones for around the same price, so what makes the Typhoon so different? To start, the camera has a 360-degree range of motion and a 98-degree field of view. This enables it to see most things directly below it without moving a mechanical muscle. This feature is only one of many “smart” features that the Typhoon is capable of which makes its price tag all the more worth it.

Best drones over $2000

 

DJI T600-Dual-Controllers Inspire 1 Quadcopter

Sometimes being a pilot and photographer can be a hassle if you combine the two jobs. The FAA wouldn’t be happy with you! That’s why the designers at DJI have created the T600 (not the terminator) to split the jobs of pilot and photographer and maximize performance. The T600 comes with two controllers—one for the pilot and the other for the photographer/videographer. This innovative design will help you and a partner control both functions optimally without compromising the other’s ability.

A 4k/12mp camera will surely accomplish all of your photo and video taking needs as this drone has the capability to fly nearly 1.2 miles away and stream whatever it sees directly back to you.

So what makes this drone special in our hearts? Aside from the astounding 4k/12mp camera, it has indoor and outdoor uses via its intricate design. This gives it a more steady flight pattern compared to other drones with heavier propellors or unusual designs.

 

The ALTA UAV is the ultimate workhorse for the professional artist. The price tag is astronomical, but we reckon you know what you’re if you’re considering this drone. This heavy duty drone is strong enough to carry a basic film camera or any optics up to fifteen pounds. For easier transport, the ALTA folds up nicely.

Obviously, it’s not made to make the nifty flips and turns like the smaller drones, but you’re likely to get some of the best shots and videos of any drone on this list with the ALTA. Despite its size, the ALTA’s highly sophisticated controller allows for more complicated maneuvers. It would be very good idea to test your skills on a variety of drones before taking this beast on.

 

So you’ve purchased a drone…

Congratulations! You’re almost ready to get your drone in the air. First things first, however, there are a couple of very important pointers and regulations you are required to know before your drone can even leave your house.

The FAA

Most beginner’s drones, due to their small size, can’t go beyond your house. Most only have flight times of less than ten minutes. Regardless, the Federal Aviation Administration is extremely particular about keeping drones away from vital areas such as airports, power stations, and densely populated areas.

As such, the FAA has created a list of drones (usually some of the bigger ones) that it requires you to register if you own it. If you are the owner of the drone, the FAA will usually require you to register as a pilot as well. This may seem a little detrimental to the fun you’re looking to have, but it’s all necessary. This registration and various courses on drone safety will educate you on piloting best practices.

Once you’ve completed any and all necessary documentation and courses with the FAA, you’re free to enjoy your drone!

 

Best Practices

Your drone is an expensive piece of equipment, and we would like for you to enjoy it as long as possible. Therefore we’ve compiled a list of best practices that you should at least be aware of as you introduce your drone to the wild.

  1. Keep it safe—don’t leave your drone lying around when you’re not at home. It’s an expensive toy, and many people would love to take it off your hands without asking.
  2. Clean it—chances are you’re probably going to have one or two crash landings in your drone’s lifetime. Make sure to clean off any water or dirt that may have stuck to it.
  3. Extra batteries—your drone may have room on its body for an extra battery. Most extra batteries don’t come free. If you want to extend the flight time of your drone, an extra battery will usually double it.
  4. Check forums and reviews—you’re not the only one to hold your type of drone. If you ever need an answer, check various drone forums or consult the manual relentlessly before trying to get a hold of the manufacturer.
  5. Try all the features—the drone’s features and capabilities aren’t just for show. Some of them, like the “recall” function, will save the drone if you lose sight of it or don’t know what direction you’re heading.

 

Be safe and aware!

Drone safety is critical, especially to the government. You’ll most likely have to register as a pilot to fly some of the bigger drones or fly them near residential areas. Please read up on your drone’s manufacturer with drone regulations before taking flight.

In any case, the drones we’ve prepared for you have proven their worth to photographers, videographers, and filmmakers alike.

 

Choosing a Drone

With all the different brands and their constantly increasing number of drone lines, it can even more difficult to find the right drone for yourself even if you’ve identified a particular brand. The first thing you should understand about drones is that the more advanced you go, the more training and specialization needs to be done.

  • Beginners will have an easier time choosing drones. The smaller ones will be easier to fly and have less flight time, which will keep them in range of you.

Let’s face it, if you’re buying drones that are starting to go into the hundreds of dollars, you’re probably looking to maximize the capabilities of its camera and video. If photography is your game, then you’ll immediately discount the beginner’s drones and go straight for the DJI or Yuneec based drones.

Just because you are a professional artist doesn’t mean you should treat the drone any differently than any other optic. They should be well maintained and kept out of harm’s way or the hands of small children when they’re not flying. The more you take responsibility for it and keep it out of dangerous conditions, the longer it will last you.

 

 

Best DSLR Camera Bags

Finding a bag, case, or backpack for your DSLR camera can sometimes be tricky. Many photographers are very particular about their bags, and it’s easy to see why. You need something that will protect all your gear, withstand the environment you are usually in, and be comfortable to wear around.

There are many camera bags on the market, and you can find just about any price point imaginable. We have a roundup of our favorite bags out there to help you narrow down your decision.

We have identified five styles of camera bags: shoulder bags, backpacks, sling bags, messenger bags, and purses.

We recommend considering a number of things before you buy a new camera bag, including:

  • Ease of access
  • Weatherproofing
  • Dedicated pockets or inserts
  • Room for gear and extras (laptops, etc.)
  • Preferred style

With your wish list in mind, we also recommend buying the best available in your budget. As a general rule, more expensive bags will be better made – they’ll be made from better material and have better stitching and more durability.

Of course, we know that having a bag that’s fashionable is important, too, but tastes vary so widely it all comes down to personal preference. We did keep stylishness in mind in our review, though, and luckily there are plenty of options that look good while being functional.

Without further ado, here are our favorite camera bags.

Best Shoulder Bags

Shoulder bags are not always the most popular camera bags, but they work well for plenty of photographers. These bags sit on one shoulder (and sometimes double as cross-body bags), so it’s important that they have padded shoulders to minimize discomfort.

Shoulder bags generally aren’t as sleek as messenger bags, and they’re not meant for hiking or other outdoorsy activities like backpacks. So, they tend to be a bit bulky, but good ones will have good protection and plenty of pockets and slots for all your gear. Think Tank and Lowepro offer our favorite shoulder bags, and both brands have plenty of options for sizes and colors.

Our picks:

Think Tank Retrospective 30 (Top Pick)

While the Retrospective 30 is the most expensive of the three shoulder bags we picked, it’s well worth the money. It features plenty of storage space – the Retrospective 30 can accommodate a full frame DSLR and extra lenses. The manufacturer calls it “inconspicuous” and a blend of “old school” with new technology.

These descriptions make total sense when you see it, but we’d also go so far as to call it stylish (in a utilitarian sort of way). It’s durable and sturdy with a rugged build and quality materials. Check out the other Retrospective bags for additional sizes if the 30 is more than you need for your gear.

Lowepro Nova 180Lowepro

The Nova is not as stylish as the Retrospective, but it’s well made and features several options. It’s also less expensive than Think Tank’s. You have options for storage and carrying, as well as several choices of sizes. The Nova 180 is for compact DSLRs, but you can pick up larger sizes for bigger cameras or more gear storage. The Nova is weatherproof and features a flap lid for extra protection from the elements. It’s a bit boxy, but it has fantastic protection and will last a long time.

AmazonBasics DSLR Gadget Bag (Budget Pick)

If you do not want to fork out so many of your hard earned dollars, AmazonBasic’s line of goods has a gadget back that’s seriously budget-friendly. The compartments inside offer plenty of space and options for your gear storage, and are lots of pockets and slots for your extras. It’s not anything spectacular to look at, but it’s well made and functional. And you simply can’t beat the price.

Best Backpacks

DSLR backpacks are awesome for photographers on the move. They are also an absolute necessity for outdoors photographers who need to have their equipment safe and have both hands free. There are an incredible number of camera backpacks on the market, and you can spend hundreds of dollars getting some of the top of the line models. However, spending big is necessary if you need a backpack that can handle the elements and keep your gear safe and sound.

Peak Design Everyday Backpack (Top Pick)

The buzzy and award winning Peak Design has an everything-you-need-and-then-some backpack that pros can’t get enough of. While it’s a little spendy, you’re paying for expert design, well thought out engineering, and weatherproofing you won’t have to think twice about. One of the best things about the Everyday Backpack is how intuitive and functional the storage is. You get easy access to all the things you need. We love this backpack and think you will, too.Peak Design

Pacsafe Camsafe V17 Anti-Theft Backpack

While this backpack is designed with security in mind, it’s also a functional, well-designed backpack for an affordable price. The anti-theft features of the backpack are super useful for travelers – it is engineered with all the security components you’d need. This includes embedded wire mesh and RFIDsafe Blocking Material to help prevent hacker scanning. It also features a built in rain cover, lots of compartments for all your stuff, and a low profile. It’s perfect for travel or everyday use.

Lowepro Hatchback BP 150 AW II (Budget Pick)

We’re big fans of all of Lowepro’s camera bags. This one isn’t our favorite Lowepro overall, but its budget-friendly price and versatility help it land a spot on our list. The Hatchback BP 150 is designed for compact DSLRs, but it also easily converts to a standard daypack. This makes it even kinder to your wallet, as you’re essentially getting two bags in one. It features an all weather cover to help protect your gear from the elements and from dust. If you want a more comprehensive outdoor backpack, or you have more to spend, we recommend checking out some of Lowepro’s other offerings (the pro-approved Whistler BP  is pretty amazing), but if you’re on a budget, the Hatchback is a fantastic option.

Best Messenger Bags

Messenger bags are a popular choice for photographers who want a stylish, comfortable bag that’s easy to access. The best messenger bags for cameras have pockets or inserts for your gear and for anything else you want to carry with you, like laptops or tablets, or keys and a wallet.

Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag (Top Pick)

Peak Design makes their second appearance on our list with this smart, high-quality messenger bag. It’s a bit pricey, much like their backpack, but it’s well worth saving up for. Peak Design worked with photographer Trey Ratcliff to create a functional bag that considers photographers’ needs. There are so many things to love about this bag – from its construction and usability, to its incredible attention to detail in organization configuration. Plus, its weatherproofing, comfortable strap, and rugged good looks, it’s a bag that will quickly become many photoPeak Design Messangergrapher’s favorite.

Tenba Messenger DNA

The Tenba Messenger DNA comes in several sizes so that you can find the perfect fit. The exterior is all-weather and rugged, making it a great choice for everyday use. The interior pays attention to the care and space you need for your camera and gear. The Messenger DNA also features an additional security strap so that you can wear it on your bike without the bag sliding around. The top has a quick access feature that makes it simple to grab your camera without opening the whole top. Price-wise, the Messenger DNA is priced well for an all-weather bag with inventive and useful features.

Ape Case Large DSLR Bag (Budget Pick)

Like our other budget picks, the Ape Case is best for a compact DSLR. Though the name says large, it’s really more of a medium-sized (or even a small medium) messenger. However, it’s very affordable and has a fun, functional look about it. It’s lightweight and contours to the body well, making it a good option if you want a bag that doesn’t call attention to the gear you have in it. It’s nicely priced, so if  you are on a budget, this is worth checking out.

Best Sling Bags

Sling bags are not the most popular style of DSLR bag, but they are well loved by photographers who want a more compact way to carry their camera around. These are ideal for short hikes or day trips where you don’t need all of your gear and don’t want a bunch of extra weight on your back or side. Most sling bags are inexpensive; in fact, most are available for under $100, making them a good option for a backup bag.

Think Tank Turnstyle 20 (Top Pick)

Think Tank makes it to the top of another category with this sling bag called the Turnstyle. It’s the most expensive sling bag we selected (though still under $100), but it’s worth the money for Think Tank’s smart design and sturdy construction. The Turnstyle features an option to be worn as a belt pack in addition to a sling, making it a versatile choice for active photographers. Either way you wear it, you can get to your gear quickly and efficiently. It also has water-resistant fabric and a removable rain cover.Think Tank Camera Bag

Lowepro Slingshot Edge

The Lowepro Slingshot is a smartly designed sling that makes getting what you need super easy. There is a small front pocket, for example, that has a space for your phone, plus separate space for other small essentials. All of the other access points are well thought out, and the Slingshot makes an excellent choice for travelers with compact DSLRs. You can quickly access the side pocket without taking the bag off, and the zipper placement makes it easy to get in and out of while also deterring theft. Lowepro is a fantastic brand for camera bags, and their Slingshot is no exception.

Ruggard Triumph 35 Sling Bag

You’ll notice we don’t have a budget pick for sling bags, and that’s because the Lowepro sling and this Ruggard sling are pretty darn close in price. The Triumph has a bit more room than the Slingshot, but it too has smart access points to quickly get in and out of the bag. The Triumph as a compact tripod holder and plenty of compartment options, making it an excellent option for traveling and keeping everything together.

Best Purses

There are far fewer options for camera purses than any other bag type. This is probably because they aren’t practical for every photographer, nor are they very useful for many situations beyond walking around town. There is still some demand for them, though, so there are a few possibilities for a stylish purse that is designed to hold DSLR equipment. One thing to note, however, is that there aren’t many budget options, so you can expect to pay over $100 for a DSLR purse.

Jo Totes Gracie Camera Bag (Top Pick)

The Gracie purse is a super cute option that has plenty of room for your camera and gear. There’s room enough for your camera body and a few lenses or other gear, plus pockets for other things. The Gracie bag is fantastic for travel – it doesn’t look like a gear bag and it conforms to your body rather than being bulky. The access points are easy to get into, and there are lots of options for storage. It’s also the least expensive option in this category.Jo Totes

Kailo Chic Camera and Laptop Tote

This tote doesn’t have great padding for the camera compartments, but it’s a real winner in the looks department. It features comfortable straps and lots of compartments, so it will work well for a stylish photographer who is on the go. It is practical and sturdy, so if you are looking for a bag that will function as more than just a camera bag, this is a fantastic option. There are several print options, too, so there’s sure to be one that matches your personality.

 

 

Best Tamron DSLR Lenses 2017

Buying a new lens for your SLR camera can really break the bank. Good quality lenses can be incredibly expensive. Fortunately, there are some additional options to check out if a Canon or Nikon brand lens is outside your budget. Third-party manufacturers offer lenses with mounts that work with different camera bodies and are usually cost quite a bit less.

Tamron is one of those third-party manufacturers and they have a great selection of lenses for Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras. This guide will take a look at some of the best lenses Tamron has to offer for your DSLR camera.

Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 VC PZD All-In-One Zoom Lens 

This compact and lightweight zoom lens works fantastic for travel. It is budget friendly, especially given its range and quality. It gets great wide angle shots, and features both vibration control and a silent motor. The 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 is a super versatile lens that produces good quality images.

This lens will work on APS-C sensors and has available mounts for Canon, Nikon, and Sony – though the Sony Alpha mount does not include Vibration Compensation.  The sharpness is quite remarkable given the zoom range. For travelers and spontaneous types, this versatile lens is a great match.

Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro Di VC

This macro lens is one of Tamron’s most loved lenses. It captures sharp up close images and features advanced optics technology to reduce ghosting and flare. It’s well constructed, with both moisture- and dust-proof construction as well as front coating to repel water and fingerprints. This is a solid lens built to work hard.

The 90mm is great for low light situations, and Tamron’s Vibration Compensation elevates this lens’s abilities even further. It comes in Canon and Nikon mounts and is a great choice for everyone from macro shooters to bloggers and portrait photographers.

Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC G2

Though it’s a bit spendy, this telephoto zoom lens is well worth every penny. It offers incredible sharpness and little to no chromatic aberrations or distortion. The 70-200mm has fast, accurate, and nearly silent focusing, so it’s a great lens for wildlife photographers in particular.

The 70-200mm is actually one of the most compact zoom lenses in its class. IQ is stunning at every range, and the Vibration Compensation works well for image stability. Many users find this lens to be superior over the first-party lenses of identical specs.

Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical (IF) Lens

If you want a good portrait lens with creamy bokeh and excellent IQ, the 17-50 f/2.8 is a wallet-friendly option that doesn’t disappoint. This lens isn’t just for portraits, though. In fact, it’s an excellent all around lens that captures great sharpness with no chromatic aberrations or distortions.

Canon mounts work with most of the APS-C sensors, and there are mount options for Nikon, Sony, and Pentax as well. AF is fast, though at lower lights some users see issues. Overall, it’s an affordable lens that will more than meet your expectations for a variety of shooting situations.

Tamron SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD

The 70-300mm is a wonderful lens with a ton of perks: great optical performance, ultra-silent AF, image stabilization, and great focal length. It’s a highly versatile zoom lens that will be great for traveling, nature, street photography and more. This lens is compatible with both full frame and cropped sensors.

The sharpness on the 70-300mm is consistently excellent. It’s both lightweight and compact, and one of the best things about it is the affordable price. This is a perfect next-step lens when you’re ready to move beyond the kit lens. It’s also high quality enough that enthusiasts and even pros will appreciate it as well.

Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Wide-Angle 

Our last Tamron lens pick is another full frame compatible lens. This excellent wide angle lens has a fast 2.8 aperture and Vibration Compensation, making it a great choice for a variety of shoots. Real estate, architecture, and other photographers will appreciate the solid build and tack sharpness.

The 15-30mm works great in low light situations, and has been used for astrophotography with good results. It also features weather sealing and premium optics. It’s a high quality wide angle lens that is well worth the money.

Best Sigma Lenses for Nikon 2017

When you are ready to add to your photography gear, you might find yourself immersed in the world of Nikon DSLR lenses. There are multiple lens options for any situation and at every price point. Our guide to Nikon lenses for beginners covers some of our favorite lenses for those looking beyond kit lenses. But there are even more options out there.

Third-party lenses come from manufacturers that create lenses that will work with different camera bodies. Sigma is one of the most popular third-party manufacturers, and their lenses are quite popular with everyone from novice to professional photographers.

Buying third-party lenses can save you a lot of money, and Sigma has some excellent offerings. In this guide, we’ll talk about some of the best Sigma lenses you can pick up for your Nikon camera.

Introduction to Sigma

Sigma has been producing great camera lenses since 1961. Their products are highly regarded and less expensive than Nikon lenses.

Sigma lenses are available in DG (full frame) and DC (APS-C). The three lines you’ll see are Art, Contemporary, and Sports. Features of Sigma lenses match what you’ll see on Nikon lenses, with Sigma’s own terminology used instead. A few of those features include:

  • OS: Optical Image Stabilization, to minimize vibration
  • HSM: Hypersonic Motor, for fast and quiet focus
  • EX: High-quality, professional lens

Before You Buy

There are several ways to narrow down your selection of lens options. The first is to determine what you usually shoot. Some examples include landscapes, events, sports, or portraits. From there, you can get to know lenses that are best suited to those situations. Shooting wildlife requires longer zoom lenses, while portraits usually need larger aperture settings.

You may also need to pay attention to the format compatibility of the lens. This is primarily if you have (or plan to get) a full frame Nikon such as a D750 or D5. Sigma DC lenses will not work well with full frame Nikon bodies.

Finally, make sure the lens has the Nikon mount when you buy. Those are the main factors to keep an eye on; otherwise, the sky (or your wallet) is the limit.

Best Sigma Lenses

Here are our top picks for Sigma lenses for your Nikon SLR.

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro

This macro lens captures superior shots every time. It features exceptional construction and glass that corrects chromatic aberrations and distortion. The optics also include Super Multi-Layer coating that reduces ghosting and flare. The Optical Image Stabilization (OS) feature makes close ups easy and counteracts shaking.

This is a full frame (DG) lens, so it will work in any Nikon FX or DX body. It is a prime lens, so it has a set focal length, but it is a great length for macro shots. It features great bokeh and sharp subject capturing. It’s a bit on the heavy side, but that is typical for a quality macro lens. This is an excellent option for photographers who want to focus on capturing beautiful close ups.

Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM

The super wide angle 10-20mm f/3.5 is a versatile lens that is beloved by street and real estate photographers. It effectively captures the whole scene, and the aperture is great for low light shots. Another perk of this lens is that it minimizes distortion, which can often be an issue in ultra-wide angle lenses.

This is an EX lens, which means that it is extremely well constructed. You’ll get sharp images on this cropped sensor only lens. The price is fantastic, especially when you compare it to comparable first-party lenses. Some pros even prefer this lens’s performance to the Nikon equivalent.

Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 Art DC HSM

The 50-100mm f/1.8 covers three popular lengths in one lens. It has the sharpness of a prime lens with zoom capabilities, making it an excellent go-to lens for a variety of situations. Fans of this lens rave about the bokeh and the contrast. There is little to no distortion and flare, and it is tack sharp out of the box.

This is a DC (crop sensor) lens, so it is designed for APS-C bodies. It is a bit heavy, but the zoom and aperture make the weight necessary. Price wise, you can’t beat the Sigma for this telephoto zoom lens focal length and quality.

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

This prime lens is beloved for portraits, but it’s also an excellent lens for landscape and street photography. It has an exceptional build quality and an efficient HSM system. The optics feature SLD glass and virtually eliminate chromatic aberrations, making lovely high contrast shots. Sigma’s Super Multi-Layer Coating here means a huge reduction in flare and ghosting.

It’s the sharpness that really sets the Sigma 50mm apart from the rest. It consistently outperforms other comparable lenses, and users can’t stop raving about it. It has the creamy bokeh many photographers clamor for, and it is ultimately an excellent lens for pros and enthusiasts alike.

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary

The 150-600mm is a hyper-telephoto lens that is both dust and splash proof. It’s a fantastic lens for landscape and wildlife photographers. It’s portable while featuring the must have silent HSM and OS elements. It retains sharpness throughout the zoom range and it focuses fast and effectively.

This lens is good for full frame and crop sensors and has all the bells and whistles of a pro level lens. It’s definitely worth saving up for, but even at the price, it is significantly cheaper than some other equivalent lenses.

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Art DC HSM

This wide angle lens has a pleasantly large aperture, making it really stand out from the pack. Shooting in low light is a dream, as is shooting in tight spaces. It has tack sharpness and an excellent build. This lens is perfect for a variety of shoots: portraits, landscapes, close ups and more. As with the other lenses we’ve covered, the 18-35mm boasts SLD glass to reduce chromatic aberrations. A 9 blade diaphragm means you’ll get beautiful bokeh.

The 18-35mm is a must have for nearly any camera bag. It is a DC lens, however, so this is only good for crop sensor camera bodies. But if this fits your camera, you’ll get all that wonderful quality, plus fast and accurate focusing. It’s truly a versatile lens that is a spectacular upgrade from your kit lens.

Best Sigma DSLR Lenses for Canon 2017

When you are ready to take your photography to the next level, the next logical step is to add to your selection of SLR lenses.

Lenses for DSLR cameras give you the ability to shoot with different perspectives and to capture scenes in new ways. There are seemingly endless options, from long telephoto lenses for sweeping landscapes to macro lenses for intense close-ups.

We took a look at some of the best Canon lenses for beginners, but we wanted to also talk about some additional lens options for photographers of all levels through third-party manufacturers.

Third-party manufacturers make lenses that fit with several different camera bodies via mounts specific to the brand. These tend to be much less expensive than first-party (such as Canon and Nikon) lenses, but they often still offer high quality. Some of the most popular third-party manufacturers are Sigma and Tamron. This guide will take a look at some of the best Sigma lenses for your Canon camera body.

About Sigma Lenses

Sigma is a popular lens among many photographers, including pros. They are known for producing quality lenses of all varieties for over 50 years.

There are three lines of Sigma lenses: Sport, Contemporary, and Art. In addition, Sigma has a variety of lenses meant for certain types of shooting, such as landscape, portraits, and weddings. For formats, Sigma manufactures lenses for both crop sensor (DC for APS-C) and full frame (DG). You’ll see the same kinds of features on Sigma lenses versus first-party lenses with their own terminology. Examples include:

  • OS: Optical Image Stabilization, to minimize vibration
  • HSM: Hypersonic Motor, for fast and quiet focus
  • EX: High-quality, professional lens

Buying Sigma Lenses

As with first-party lenses, you will want to determine which lens is best for your specific needs. This typically means understanding the type of shooting you do most often (landscape, sports, architecture, and so forth) and the characteristics you want from a lens. This will help you narrow down the selection so you can find the best fit.

Sigma lenses offer the various focal lengths, speeds, aperture, and so forth that first-party lenses provide. When you purchase a Sigma lens, the only thing you need to do differently is be sure you’re buying the right mount for your camera. This is easy to find – most sellers simply label them “Canon Mount” or “Nikon Mount.”

There are some who only swear by first-party lenses, but many photographers love Sigma’s offerings and quality. Sigma is much more budget friendly in most cases, so they tend to be more accessible to many enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Best Sigma Lenses

Without further ado, here are our picks for the best Sigma lenses for your Canon SLR.

Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM

The Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM is an excellent wide-angle lens. If you are a landscape photographer, this is a great, affordable option. It also does fantastic in low light situations, and the Super Multi-layer coating reduces both flare and ghosting.

This lens is also well liked by real estate and architecture photographers thanks to its wide angle and excellent construction. The EX in the name indicates that it has superior quality, and this is evident in everything from the glass to the overall feel of the lens. Do take note of the compatibility, however: this lens is for APS-C format and will not work with full frame SLR cameras.

Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC 

The Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 is a large aperture standard zoom that takes sharp images and is ideal for both portraits and landscapes. It features OS, Sigma’s image stabilization technology and has HSM – a fast and nearly silent autofocus. This is a great lens for low light shooting, and is overall a very versatile lens.

Like the previous lens, this is a DC (APS-C format) lens, so it is not meant for full frame bodies like the 5D Mark III. Also like the previous lens, the 17-50mm f/2.8 is an EX and features high-performance glass for the best possible image quality. This is a wonderfully versatile lens that can handle your low light shoots.

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM

This full frame 150-600mm f/5-6.3 is a top choice for many wildlife photographers. The OS and telephoto zoom makes it simple to get great shots of birds and other wildlife from a distance. You get sharp, clear shots and a handy zoom lock plus manual override.

Because this is a full frame (DG) lens, it will work with any full frame of cropped Canon SLR. Quality telephoto zoom lenses are not cheap, but the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 is nicely priced compared to comparable first-party lenses. Though it is a bargain (relatively speaking), the IQ does not disappoint and the included Sigma software lets you keep the lens up to date and functioning at full capacity.

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 ART DG HSM

For photographers who would like a prime lens good for weddings, videography, or astrophotography, this versatile 24mm f/1.4 is a perfect choice. It handles a range of low light situations without any problem, and the bokeh can’t be beat.

This lens has many fans in the astrophotography genre. But it’s the quick and quiet AF, as well as the creamy bokeh and superior optics that make it a top choice for event photography. This full frame Art lens works on all full frame and APS-C Canon bodies.

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

When you need to capture the best portraits, the 85mm f/1.4 is a top choice. It has everything a good portrait prime lens needs: large aperture, smooth bokeh, precise focusing, and more. This full frame compatible lens boasts super high-quality construction – including glass that dramatically reduces chromatic aberrations.

Many photographers note that the Sigma version of this lens is superior to the Canon version in AF speed and consistency. Plus, it’s a fraction of the cost. This is a fantastic lens for detail, vibrant colors, and consistently good IQ.

 

 

Beginner’s Guide to the Best Canon Lenses

So you have a new Canon DSLR. Congratulations! You are probably excited about all of the possibilities that camera holds, and you’ve likely discovered that there’s an entirely new world of information to learn about: lenses.

The unique part of DSLRs over other digital cameras is that they feature interchangeable lenses. This means that you can find the best lens for whatever type of picture you want to take – landscape, portraits, extreme close-ups, and so forth.

This guide is meant to introduce you to the world of Canon DSLR lenses. We’ll talk about some of the common terms and lens types you’ll encounter, as well as some of our favorite lenses for you to consider.

Why Buy Lenses?

If you purchased an entry-level Canon body with a lens kit, you probably received the Canon 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 lens along with it. This is a good starter lens to help you get used to shooting your new camera. However, it is pretty basic, and many budding photographers find themselves limited by its abilities.

Here’s a little bit to know about the typical entry-level kit lens. 18-55mm is the focal length. The numbers here mean that you can zoom between 18mm and 55mm. This range is good for landscapes or for family pictures. However, it has a narrow aperture (f/3.5-5.6), so it won’t work great in low light. (To learn more about DSLR terminology, check out our Beginner’s Guide!)

The 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 is a great value when you get it in a kit, and it is an easy to use lens for beginners. So why would you want to buy more lenses?

Buying new lenses for your DSLR camera lets you start shooting different situations and gives you more creative freedom. In fact, it’s often said that if you feel like your camera is holding you back and you want to upgrade, try upgrading your gear first.

Typically, lenses you buy for your entry-level DSLR will work on other DSLRs of the same brand, so if you do move to a mid-range camera down the road, you can keep those lenses to use with the new one. (There are some exceptions here, so always double check compatibility before you buy.)

DSLR lenses match up to your purpose, so you can get the best possible shot in any circumstance. For example, if you are interested in portraits, you can pick up a lens with the focal length and aperture that work best for that kind of session. You can find a lens that gives you the speed you need for shooting sports. Or you can find a telephoto lens that will help you capture stunning landscape shots.

Most importantly, lenses help you advance as a photographer. Photographers never stop learning their craft, but gear helps them keep pushing themselves for better shots. You have so much more power with different lens options. However, there are some things you’ll want to know and do before you buy.

Before You Buy

If you’ve researched DSLR lenses at all, the first thing you probably noticed is that they can be very expensive. In fact, if you bought an entry-level camera, in particular, many lenses are close to twice as much as the price of the body – if not more.

It is well worth it to save your pennies to get the lens you actually want, so you should spend some time figuring out what you want out of a lens. You can also get to know Canon’s terminology regarding lens labeling. Let’s take a look at what the names of Canon lenses actually mean.

Canon Lens Terminology

You’ll notice numbers and letters on canon lenses, and this is meant to tell you nearly everything you need to know about a particular lens.

  • Focal Length: As we mentioned above, this a number (usually a range) followed by millimeter (mm). This number lets you know the range of zoom you have. In addition to helping you get the right angle of your shot, focal length also affects the perspective of the shot, so it’s worth learning more about focal length before you buy (especially if you’re looking at telephoto lenses).
  • Aperture: Typically this number indicates the maximum aperture of the lens, but it also may show a range (f/3.5-5.6) which simply means that the aperture narrows as you zoom. For Canon lenses, this number is always preceded by f/.
  • Generation: Sometimes you’ll see II or III on a lens name, and that just tells you which version of the lens it is. You’ll usually want to get the most recent version of a lens.
  • Image Stabilization: When the lens has IS in the name, this means that it has optical image stabilization. This is an important technology added to lenses that use slow shutter speeds – it helps to counter shake and provide sharper images.
  • Sensor: The letters EF (full frame) and EF-S (crop) tell you which sensor type the lens is for. EF lenses will work with any full frame or crop sensor DSLR, but EF-S only work on the crop sensor and aren’t compatible with full frame cameras. This probably won’t matter now but is something to keep in mind if you foresee yourself buying a full frame camera in the future.
  • Focusing Motor: If the lens reads USM, this means that comes equipped with UltraSonic Motor, a technology that helps you focus quickly and quietly.

There are, of course, plenty of other terms and specs that you’ll run into on your journey through the land of Canon lenses, but this is a good list to help you get started with your first lenses.

Canon vs. Third-Party Lenses

In your quest for the perfect lens, you’ll eventually stumble across third-party lenses. Third-party lenses, by companies like Sigma and Tamron, are less expensive lenses that mount on different camera bodies. So, for example, you might see one that offers the focal length and max aperture you’re after, and you’ll see that the third-party lens requires a mount to attach to your canon. You’ll also see that it costs much less than the same specs on a Canon lens.

Talking about first-party versus third-party lenses inevitably opens up a debate that is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. Purists will claim that only first-party lenses have the quality and compatibility you need for good photography. Others will point out that many lenses are only in budget if you consider a third-party model.

There are important elements to each side of this debate, and it’s worth it to do your own research to decide what you believe and what you will buy. For our part, we’re not going to choose sides, but we will stick to recommending lenses manufactured only by Canon, just to keep things simple.

What to Look For

Now that you know a little bit more about lens terminology and features, let’s talk about the next steps you can take when you’re ready to buy a lens.

Purpose

By the time you start shopping for a new lens, you will probably have a good idea what you want out of a lens. At the very least, you can refine your purpose and the types of photos you like taking. Do you gravitate toward landscape shots? Are you taking family photos or action shots of your kids?

Here are a few of the primary categories you’ll see when discussing lens purposes:

  • Landscape
  • Portrait
  • Wedding
  • Sports
  • Wildlife
  • Architecture
  • Creative

Types of Lenses

There are three main lens categories: normal, telephoto, and wide angle. However, you’ll see more categories than that when you start looking for the best lenses. Some types you’ll see include:

  • Standard
  • Prime
  • Telephoto zoom
  • Wide angle
  • Macro
  • Fish eye

Price

Price is going to be a huge factor when it comes to lens purchases for most photographers. It can be difficult to justify spending several hundred to over one thousand dollars for a single lens. There are some budget-friendly options, but the fact of the matter is, you will likely have to spend a significant amount on gear at some point.

However, there is more to the story than the initial price. Most photographers will upgrade their camera body at some point – especially if they start out with an entry-level model and advance their photography skills. Lenses, on the other, might be a one-time purchase. At the very least, a lens is something that can last you a long, long time, and move with you to both new camera bodies and to richer photography skills.

Remember: purchasing a new lens is an investment in your photography.

Our Lens Recommendations

We’ve thrown a lot of information at you, and there is a lot more to know! But for now, you might be wondering, “Which lens should I buy right now?” To help you answer that question, here are some of our favorite lenses for beginners.

Best Budget Lenses

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

This lens is exceptionally priced and is a perfect option for a first lens. It captures lovely pictures in low light conditions. It also lets you attain a shallow depth of field due to its large aperture. Practically, what this means for you is that you can get those great shots where the subject is clear but the background is soft and blurry.

Shallow DOF

Canon EF 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6

This affordable wide angle lens lets you capture architecture and landscapes. This is also a great lens for you if you shoot interiors or indoor shots and find it difficult to capture everything. Remarkably given the price, the lens also features Image Stabilization (IS).

Best Lens for Portraits

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

You might think that basically any lens can be used for portraits, and you wouldn’t be wrong. However, there is a lot to learn about perspective and focal length and aperture in order to get the best possible portrait shots. A lot depends on where you usually shoot (ex. indoors or out in nature) and the kinds of shots (close-up, etc.) you prefer to take. As a general rule, wide-angle lenses are bad for portraits and short telephoto lenses are good. But – as with everything related to photography – it depends.

Having said all of that, the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 is our pick for the best portrait lens. It is reasonably priced and produces consistently high-quality portraits. Many photographers actually find this to be a great all-around lens that becomes their go-to for most shots. It is a bit more technical than the budget lenses we mentioned above, so you’ll want to dedicate some time to get to know it before doing a photo shoot.

Best Lens for Landscapes

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 IS USM

There are plenty of options for landscape lenses at nearly any price point. Wide-angle lenses are usually a good choice for landscape shots, and even the standard 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 kit lens will do a decent job. For our pick in this category, we considered price, versatility, and longevity.

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 isn’t cheap, but it is a well-made, highly rated lens that is excellent for landscape photography. It’s also a versatile telephoto lens that many photographers find useful for a range of shooting conditions. This version features Image Stabilization – a valuable element – but you can get the budget-friendly version without IS and save yourself some money.

Best Lens for Action

Canon EF 135mm f/2L

You might be looking for specific kinds of action shots – certain indoor or outdoor sports, or wildlife in action for example – so it’s a good idea to do a bit of research if you have some specific needs. A few key things to look for no matter what when it comes to action/sports shots: Image Stabilization, fast shutter speed, and (sometimes) zoom lenses.

Our pick for this category took into account price (most lenses meant for action/sports are expensive!) and versatility, and we landed on the 135mm f/2L. It is fast and has good autofocus capability, and it’s liked by many for portraits and weddings.

 

Best Wide-Angle Lens

Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Wide-Angle Lens

Wide angle is coveted for travelers and nature enthusiasts, in addition to many other shutterbugs. The nice thing about wide angle lenses is that they don’t immediately jump up in price like telephoto lenses or lenses meant for action. Our pick for the best wide angle lens is budget-friendly and beautiful.

The EF 35mm f/2 is light and compact, and the image quality is outstanding. Some complain that the autofocus is a little buggy, but for the most part, this lens is a bargain – and one that will last you for years to come.

Best Macro Lens

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro

Macro lenses have great quality and get you closer to your subject than non-macro lenses can even dream of. Like other types of lenses, there is a pretty wide range of prices for this type of lens. You might want to consider things like weight (for longer focal lengths) and purpose (is it only for shooting flowers up close, or do you have other expectations?).

For our pick, we again chose based partially on price, but we also considered quality and usability. The 100mm f/2.8 is a macro lens, so it’s going to do all the macro shooting you want it to do – but it’s also good for portraits. It has excellent quality and sharpness.

Best Creative Lens

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM

There are several different options for “creative” lenses in any brand. Canon has lenses such as tilt-shift, fish eye, and extreme telephoto. These can be fun to add to your collection, or they might be central to your photography – it all depends on your style. These have dramatic price differences – especially when you’re considering the extreme telephoto lenses.

Our pick for this category is the inexpensive “pancake” 40mm f/2.8 lens. This is a fun, portable lens that gives you some options for creative shooting.

 

There are so many Canon lenses available — you can find exactly the right fit for your subject and shooting style. For more help on different types of cameras, read our Best DSLR Camera review guide here.

 

 

Beginner’s Guide to the Best Nikon Lenses

If you have joined the world of DSLR with a new Nikon, congratulations! Perhaps you’ve been wondering about adding additional lenses to your camera bag, but you’re not sure where to start. That’s understandable – after all, Nikon has around 100 lens options for DSLR cameras.

In this guide, we’ll discuss some of the basics of Nikon DSLR lenses, including how to read and understand DSLR lens terminology. This guide is meant to introduce new photographers to Nikon lenses, so we’ll also offer some recommendations of our favorite lenses.

Why Buy Additional Lenses?

There’s a good chance that your Nikon DSLR came with the 18-55mm kit lens. This is an excellent lens for you to start with if your experience with DSLR shooting is limited. You can get to know your camera settings and how to use it, as well as get some good shots in the meantime.

The 18-55mm kit lens has a focal length between 18mm and 55mm. For you, this means that it gives you a fairly good range of shots for things like landscapes or pictures in the backyard of your family. The narrow aperture will make it a bit tricky to shoot in low light conditions, however. That might be one of the driving forces for you to grab another lens.

Aside from the limitations you might encounter with your kit lens, adding new lenses to your repertoire helps you become a better photographer. You can find the best lens for your favorite kinds of shots, and you can look for lenses that will help you push yourself as a photographer. Your DSLR camera has a ton of potential with just a change of the lens.

It takes quite a bit of time to learn about DSLR photography. There are many terms and settings to learn, and taking good pictures is more about skill than the equipment you use. However, as your skills develop, purchasing lenses that match your specific purposes will help you put your skills to good use.

Finally, when you invest in lenses, you’re making a long-term investment. When you first start shopping for lenses, you will probably be shocked at the prices. Most lenses are much more expensive than even the camera body you purchased, and you can spend thousands of dollars on a single lens. But these lenses can be used for years to come, including on new camera bodies if and when you decide to upgrade. (This is typically the case, but always double check lens compatibility to be sure.)

Now that we’ve discussed why you should consider additional lenses, let’s take a look at some of the things you’ll want to know and do before you buy.

Before You Buy

As we mentioned, DSLR lenses can be very expensive. However, it is worth it to save your money and get the lens you actually want and need rather than buying what you can afford at the time just to get a new lens. We strongly recommend spending some time figuring out what you want out of a lens.

We also recommend getting to know Nikon’s terminology and types of lenses so you understand what each lens can do for you and what the names of each lens means. (For basic DSLR terminology, check out our Beginner’s Guide to DSLR.)

Nikon Lens Terminology

  • NIKKOR: This is the name of Nikon DSLR lenses.
  • Autofocus: Expressed as AF on the barrel, you might also see AF-D (AF with distance information), AF-S (AF with Silent Wave Motor), or AF-P (AF with Stepping Motor, a new, ultra-quiet motor).
  • Sensor: APS-C (cropped) sensor, or DX, is probably what you have – all entry level and the majority of mid-range DSLRs have a cropped sensor. A full-frame sensor, or FX, is a more expensive, professional-level format. Both DX and FX lenses are compatible with the APS-C sensor. However, if you have an FX full-frame camera, you probably won’t want to use the DX lenses (that’s a discussion for another time!)
  • Focal Length: This a number (sometimes a range of numbers) followed by millimeter (mm). It tells you the range of zoom you have. Focal length affects the perspective of the shot, so it’s worth learning more about focal length before you buy (especially if you’re looking at telephoto lenses).
  • Aperture: Typically this number indicates the maximum aperture of the lens, but it also may show a range (f/3.5-5.6) which simply means that the aperture narrows as you zoom. This number is always preceded by f/.
  • Vibration Reduction: When the lens has VR in the name, this means that it has optical image stabilization. This is an important technology added to lenses that use slow shutter speeds – it helps to counter shake and provide sharper images.
  • Focusing Motor: AF-S and AF-P lenses have built-in focusing motors and can be used on any current Nikon body with or without a focus motor. Lenses without a focus motor are AF NIKKOR lenses.

There are many, many more terms to know when it comes to lenses, but this should help you understand a bit about lens purposes, features, and naming conventions. For more, check out this article from Nikon, which offers a comprehensive look at their DSLR lens types.

A Note on Third-Party Lenses

As you embark on a quest to find your next lens, you will likely come across third-party lenses. These manufacturers, like Sigma and Tamron, offer less expensive options that mount on different camera bodies.  First-party versus third-party lenses inevitably opens up a debate about the pros and cons of buying third-party. It’s definitely worth conducting your own research to decide whether you want to go the third-party route in your lens purchase. Our aim in this guide is to stay out of that debate and just recommend Nikon produced lenses, just to keep it simple.

Finding Your Lens

By the time you’re ready to start shopping, you will hopefully have some ideas about what you need. You can narrow selections down by purpose (landscape, sports, etc.) or by types (prime, telephoto, etc.). You may also be limited by your budget.

Purpose

While photographers shoot all sorts of different types of subjects and scenes, there are a few fairly standard purposes that can help refine your lens needs. Each has a specific feature that suits that purpose; for example, sports and action shots need a fast shutter speed. Here are a few of the primary categories you’ll see regarding lens purposes:

  • Landscape
  • Portrait
  • Wedding
  • Sports
  • Wildlife
  • Architecture
  • Creative

Types of Lenses

There are a few types or categories that you’ll see when you’re looking at lenses.

  • Standard/Kit Lenses: Come with the camera body
  • Prime: Has only one focal length
  • Telephoto zoom: Gives you a range of focal lengths
  • Wide angle: Allows shots with a very wide perspective
  • Macro: Designed for shots that are up close

The focal length of any lens can help you determine what purpose and/or type of lens you’re looking at. Telephoto, for example, is 70-200mm. Wide angle is 21-35mm, while ultra wide angle has a range of 10-21mm. A standard or portrait lens will typically be 35-70mm.

Zoom lenses are considered to be more versatile because they have more options in focal length. Prime lenses, on the other hand, are usually faster and clearer, with less distortion. Prime lenses are often great for low light shots and for portraitures with good bokeh.

Price

DSLR lenses range in price from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. Of course, your budget will dictate which lenses you can add to your camera bag, but we do recommend saving up for lenses you actually need instead of simply buying less expensive gear.

However, spending on gear like lenses is an investment in your photography. Most upgrade to a new camera body at some point – especially if they start out with an entry-level model and develop their photography skills. Lenses, on the other, might be a one-time purchase – most lenses will work on upgraded camera bodies. At the very least, a lens is something that can last you a long, long time, and move with you to both new cameras and contribute to richer photography skills.

Our Lens Recommendations

To make our recommendations, we took into account several things. First, this list is designed for newcomers to photography, so our lens selection is meant for entry-level DSLR cameras (and perhaps some mid-range/enthusiast bodies). We considered purpose, usability, versatility, and price for each of these categories.

There are, of course, so many lens options on the market. Our list is by no means exhaustive, but these recommendations are our favorites for budding shutterbugs who want to make the most of both their camera and their budget.

Best Budget Lenses

Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8

The Nikon 35mm f/1.8 is the clear winner as the very first lens you should add to your camera bag. It’s affordable and will give you sharp, beautiful images. This lens is a prime lens, so you have just one focal length. This can be a useful way to consider composition and aperture without worrying about how adjustments to focal length affect your perspective.

Even experienced Nikon users love this lens. Its wide aperture lets you create background blur, instantly improving your ability to take portraits and other pictures that focus on a single subject. It also works great in low light, so this lens paired with your kit lens should keep you busy for quite some time.

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6

Our second pick for budget lens is this ultra-affordable zoom lens. There’s quite possibly no other telephoto lens on the market that gives you more bang for your buck. It includes Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilization and produces great bokeh.

This is another excellent choice for a first (or second) lens and it offers a lot of versatility for an incredible price. The autofocus is pretty good – and considering the price, that’s saying a lot. The main drawback of this lens is that it feels inexpensive.

Best Lens for Portraits

Nikon 50mm f/1.8

Like the 35mm we discussed above, this is a wallet-friendly prime lens that provides sharp photos and excellent low-light functionality. If you are after great bokeh or tend to shoot primarily portraits, this is a great go-to camera that’s suitable for everyday use. Bloggers looking for a versatile camera will love this one, too.

The 50mm is actually an FX lens, though it works perfectly for crop frame bodies. This is a great investment if you think you may someday make the switch to full frame. Even if not, this is an excellent lens for beginners and enthusiasts alike. Like the 55-200mm, the only complaint we have is that it is primarily plastic, and feels inexpensive. That shouldn’t deter you from picking it up if it will be a good fit for your needs, but it is something to keep in mind on all lenses that are at this price point.

Best Lens for Landscapes

Nikon 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6

The 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6 is a big jump in price from the lenses we’ve covered thus far. However, we think that for the price, this is the best option for landscape shooting. We like the versatility of the lens, and the sharpness coupled with the width makes this a really excellent lens that you will get a lot of use out of.

This is also known for being a great travel lens due to its specs and size. The 16-85mm has a great autofocus and the image quality can’t be beat for this price range. You’re still looking at a price that’s significantly under $1000 for this lens. Many landscape lenses are above $1000, so we think it’s a pretty sweet deal if you can budget for it.

Best Lens for Action

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6

There is a newer version of the 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 out, but we’re including this older version here for both its price and the fact that we haven’t checked out the brand new version yet. This is an excellent lens for action – outdoor sports, busy kids, and so forth. It has quick AF and produces clear, crisp shots.

Price-wise, you can’t do much better than this for a lens that works well for action shots. Typical sports lenses are pretty expensive, making them out of budget for beginner or even enthusiast photographers. This is also a popular choice for nature photographers, with a great zoom range and quiet shutter.

Best Wide-Angle Lens

Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5

When your kit lens just isn’t cutting it for landscapes or architecture shots, you’ll want to make the leap to a wide angle lens. Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 is our pick for a wide angle lens that is still (relatively) affordable. It is still a bit pricey, but when you want the best in photography for your passion projects, you have to spring a little for results.

The Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 features excellent engineering and gives you a versatile range coupled with extra-low dispersion glass (to reduce chromatic aberrations) and a silent AF system. This lens also takes great macro shots with a unique perspective. We definitely think this one is worth the money – and worth saving up for if you are into nature or architectural shoots.

Best Macro Lens

Nikon 40mm f/2.8

When shooting macro, it feels more natural to have a lightweight, compact lens over a bigger, bulkier one. This one fits that bill and takes stunning up-close shots with excellent detail. It is another budget-friendly lens that users who want the ability to take great macro shots will be glad to add to their camera bag.

The Nikon 40mm f/2.8 includes Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor, so you’ll see fast, quiet AF. Because it’s meant for macro shooting, Nikon has the Close-Range Correction system, which provides superior performance at those close distances. It performs best for macro, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it for other shots, as well. For the price, it’s a great addition to your lens selection.

Most Versatile Lens

Nikon 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3

For those who want just one lens to cover a wide range of situations, the Nikon 18-300 f/3.5-6.3 is where it’s at. This incredibly versatile all-in-one takes the place of two lenses, which makes it ideal for traveling. For the price, there’s simply no better lens in terms of flexibility and usability.

There will be some limitations to this lens, of course – with such a huge focal length range and relatively low weight, there are tradeoffs (aperture, for example). But for users with an entry level DSLR learning how to shoot and desiring a versatile lens, this really is a sweet lens that will last you a long time. This lens takes quality shots and lets you leave the other lenses at home.

 

 

 

Review of the Best Canon Mid-Range DSLRs

Canon has a fantastic lineup of entry-level DSLR cameras in their Rebel line. Canon is no slouch when it comes to mid-level cameras, either. With five different models falling within Canon’s “intermediate” category, there is plenty to choose from at nearly any price point.

This guide will cover the current mid-range models of Canon EOS DSLRs. Two things to note first: the Rebel T6s is considered intermediate, but we reviewed it in our Canon Rebel guide here . And second, the Canon 70D has been replaced by the 80D, but is still available through many sellers at a great price.

Without further ado, here is Canon’s current lineup of mid-range/intermediate DSLRs.

Canon EOS 77D

The 77D is the lowest price mid-level (excepting the Rebel T6s), and it’s the most recently released. Its features put it somewhere between a Rebel T7i and the 80D. It’s a solid model, but nothing overly exciting.Canon EOS 77D

Here are some of the key specs:

  • 24MP sensor with Dual Pixel autofocus
  • 45-point all-cross-type phase-detect AF system
  • Digic 7 processor
  • 3″ fully-articulating touchscreen LCD
  • Top plate LCD
  • 6fps continuous shooting
  • 1080/60p video capture with microphone input

We like the AF system and the touchscreen, and the image quality is fantastic. However, it lacks the ability to capture video in 4K, which is very disappointing given both DSLR trends and the 77D’s status as a mid-range DSLR.

The 77D does feature Wi-Fi connectivity, which is a plus. The overall functionality of the touchscreen LCD is outstanding, and the top plate LCD is handy. In short, the EOS 77D is a good – though not great – camera.  If you’re looking for a bit more oomph, we recommend saving your dollars for an 80D.

Canon EOS 80D

The next step up from the 77D is the fantastic EOS 80D. It is under $1000 for the body, and it has a ton of excellent features. We chose the 80D as one of the best DSLRs for video in our review of the best DSLR cameras.Canon EOS 80D

Here are a few of the specs on the EOS 80D:

  • 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor with Dual Pixel AF
  • 45-point AF system with all cross-type points
  • 3″ 1.04M-dot articulating touchscreen
  • 1080/60p video capture
  • 7 fps continuous shooting with AF
  • 7560-pixel RGB+IR Metering Sensor
  • Weather-resistant body

Based on the specs and the price, you might think that this model was designed to appeal to a broad range of photographers. We would agree. The 80D works fantastic for a variety of shot types, and the sensor, AF, and design work well for everything from nature shots to weddings. It’s really a great buy, especially for an enthusiast upgrading their entry-level DSLR.

While it doesn’t have 4K video options, the 1080/60p capture is excellent. Regarding changes from the 70D, which it replaced, it absolutely matches and elevates performance and has additional features that make it a worthy successor. The body is comfortable and well-designed. Overall, we think this is one of the best mid-range DSLRs on the market.

Canon EOS 6D

The EOS 6D is the first of two full frame DSLRs in the mid-range category. It is essentially a “budget” full frame; for a nice price you can pick up a full frame DSLR that features Wi-Fi and GPS.

Let’s take a look at a few of the specs:Canon EOS 6D

  • 20.2MP full frame CMOS sensor
  • DIGIC 5+ image processor
  • ISO 100-25600 standard, 50-102800 expanded
  • 4.5 fps continuous shooting
  • ‘Silent’ shutter mode
  • 1080p30 video recording, stereo sound via external mic
  • 11 point AF system, center point cross-type and sensitive to -3 EV
  • 63 zone iFCL metering system

One of the best parts of the 6D is its ability to focus in low light levels. It also has in-camera HDR and is ergonomically appealing. We’re fans of the LCD screen on the 6D. And the important stuff: the image quality is excellent.

There are two drawbacks to the 6D however. The first is that it only has one memory card slot. The second is that it lacks a built-in flash. If you can handle those missing features, this affordable full frame EOS 6D will impress the heck out of you.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II

The second full frame mid-level option, and Canon’s highest price point for intermediates, the 7D Mark II is an excellent choice for enthusiasts. It has made it to the top of many “Best” lists, and it remains a popular option for a mid-range DSLR.Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Here are some of the exciting specs of the 7D Mark II:

  • 20MP Dual-Pixel AF CMOS Sensor
  • 10 fps continuous shooting with AF
  • 65 all cross-type AF sensor
  • 150,000 RGB + IR pixel metering sensor
  • Dual Digic 6 processors
  • Compact Flash (UDMA) & SD (UHS-I) slots
  • USB 3.0
  • Built-in GPS
  • Shutter speeds up to 1/8000th seconds
  • Shutter rated to 200,000 cycles (vs 150,000 on 7D)

The 7D Mark II captures gorgeous images and offers high ISO performance. It also features enhanced environmental sealing, making it an excellent camera to take out into the elements. The built in GPS is a nice addition, but the 7D Mark II lacks built in Wi-Fi (it’s only available with an adaptor).

The fixed LCD is one drawback in addition to the missing Wi-Fi. However, we still think it’s a great option for a move to full frame – and, while still priced high for a mid-range, it’s still a decent price for the specs and full frame sensor. The design is intuitive and comfortable, and it’s a well-loved DSLR by pros and new enthusiasts alike.