Buying your first DSLR? That is...your first digital camera that's bigger than a point and shoot? Or are you upgrading from equipment that you've had for a while? Well I'm hoping that this page can be a helpful resource to you. The equipment listed on this page is recommended with a hobbyist in mind, someone who loves photography and wants to get better at taking pictures of the people in their life that they love. This equipment will help you do that well and within a budget. If you are pursuing photography as a business, I have different recommendations for you. All of the equipment that I'm recommending here is Canon. Canon is what I use and know best so I feel most comfortable recommending it to you. Plus I personally think Canon's the best and I believe you get the most for your moolah with Canon products.

✨ The pictures may not all be updated on this page, but the info is as of March 2021! ✨

A couple of quick tips before we get into the specific equipment.

  1. Please purchase from a reputable company rather than a random website that appears to have a deal. If it seems too good to be true it probably is. I always purchase either from my local shop Horn Photo (Central Ca) B & H Photo or Amazon. The links below should take you to my little Amazon shop so you can see lots of great options!
  2. I don't personally recommend buying the kit that comes with the camera and all of the lenses. Those kit lenses may not be what you really want once you learn how to use your camera on manual.

Camera Bodies and Lenses

The most recent Canon rebel camera body (No lenses included)

A great camera body for a hobbyist or a mom. This camera will allow you to shoot completely on auto but also has full manual capabilities. They usually have a pop-up flash and are high enough quality to do quite a bit on a budget.

Canon 6D Mark II or comparable Camera Body
(No lenses included)

If you can spend a little more I would recommend the 6D Series. It will shoot multiple pictures faster with less delay. It is going to handle the high ISO numbers (in low light) with less grain. The colors will be better. It's just a really nice step up from the rebel.

Canon 50mm 1.8 Lens

An inexpensive, great lens to use when learning aperture and to shoot on manual in low light. I recommend this for your first lens. Start with a lens that's $100, learn your camera, then see what you really need.

Canon 35mm 2.0 Lens

A great wider lens. Does your 50mm lens seem too close up? Too zoomed in on your Rebel or 60D camera? Then a 35mm lens is better for you. It will be closer to what your human eye sees. This lens has an aperture of 2.0 so this will be a great lens for indoor low light pictures without a flash.

Canon 28mm 1.8 Lens

This lens is even a bit wider (farther away) than the 35mm lens. This lens has an aperture of 1.8 so this will be a great lens for indoor low light pictures without a flash.

Canon 85mm 1.8 Lens

This is a great zoom lens. This would be zoomed in more than the 50mm lens for closer up shots. Great for at the park, swim lessons, or maybe even t-ball games. I had this lens for a long time until I upgraded to the professional version.

Canon 24-70mm 2.8L Lens

If you would prefer to have one fantastic lens rather than switching a bunch of lenses on and off your camera then this may be the lens for you. The aperture goes down to F 2.8 so it will be good for indoors or outdoors. It's a bit more pricey and used by pros but it might be all you need.


SanDisk 8gb SDHC Memory Card

I recommend having multiple memory cards.

White Balance Target

White Balance Target

A white balance target. I take this on every shoot. I use it almost every time. Realistically I don't always use it when I'm with my own kids. My camera is often on auto white balance in my daily life, but for a photoshoot it's on custom and I'm using my target.



  1. Lisa on April 9, 2011 at 10:11 am

    I just went out and bought the Canon Rebel T3i. I feel like a little kid at Christmas time…can’t wait to really see all it has to offer. Thanks for the guidance!

  2. Holly Williams on May 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Hi! I’m a nurse but I lovvve to take pics in my free time! I’m looking at buying another dslr. I have a nikon d50 now but I’m looking into buying a Canon. I’m one of those people that shoot on auto a lot, but I’m really interested in learning more about the manual features. This website is great btw! One question that I have though is if you can explain to me the different lens measurements. It may be common sense, but for example what do the numbers mean when you say 85 mm 1.8 lens?

  3. Cori Derksen on May 25, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    The 1.8 part is the aperture. 1.8 is a lens that will open up quite wide and let in a lot of light. It will also create that blurry fun effect which is called bokeh. :) the wider the aperture, 1.8 and down to 1.2 the more expensive the lens.

  4. Holly on June 2, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Hi I have a Canon power shot. can you get lenses for that? I love to take pictures and I’m good at poseing but no nothing about my camera.

  5. cori on June 6, 2011 at 9:54 am

    I’m not sure which power shot you have. Which one is it?

  6. Holly on June 6, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Powershot SX30 IS

  7. Holly on June 7, 2011 at 10:54 am

    yes thanks for amswering my question.

  8. Nicole on January 17, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Love your blog!!! Could you please include more Nikon in your post! I’m new to all
    Of this and would love to know more Nikon setting:) Your teaching method is easy for me to understand ! Thank you!

  9. Hope on February 27, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Thank you for your blog. It is really great. I have been looking at the a35 DSLR Camera by Sony. In your opinion is it equivalent to the canon that you recommend? The Sony camera comes in a bundle with an extra lense and memory card. It is on sale on the Sony website. I am trying to stretch my dollar. thanks so much.

  10. Susannah on May 8, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    Cori, i see that these recs are about a year old..would you still rec the same? Costco has some cannon rebels now was wondering your opinion on them. Would like to purchase my first dslr soon for family fun and small fast wiggly kids! Will you have any workshops this summer?

  11. Cori Derksen on May 9, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    sure! i’d still recommend the same. i think there’s a new 60D out now and i’m sure that’s a bit more fabulous! :)
    but i’m still shooting with the same equipment. :) if it were me buying i personally wouldn’t buy the costco kit deal because i feel it gives you lenses that you don’t need and later may not even want. i would rather buy just the desired camera body through amazon or b&h photo and one lens that i preferred.

    and i don’t think i’ll be offering in person workshops this summer… but i’m working on some big stuff that’s going to be online and replace my workshops! so make sure you’re on my bruises and bandaids newsletter to hear about it when it’s available …hoepfully soon!

  12. Kathy Brown on June 29, 2013 at 5:24 am

    Just found your web site and love it! Can’t wait to learn more!!