Best Entry-Level Cameras for Instagrammers

Using your smartphone can be great for taking photos and posting to Instagram. But we know a lot of users will outgrow their smartphone and want a mirrorless or DSLR camera to step up their IG game. When you get a camera with interchangeable lenses it’ll also allow you to change aperture, shutter speed, iso, and plenty of other settings to perfect your photos.

First let’s note the difference between mirrorless cameras and DSLRs.

  • Mirrorless: Smaller, lightweight, more modern options, and accurate viewfinder previews.
  • DSLR: Larger, heavier, better battery life, and better autofocus systems.

Here is our list of the best cameras for instagram:

Start With Your Smartphone Camera

iPhone at CityCenterDC 📸: @someguy

Of course some of the best smartphone cameras include the iPhone X, Google Pixel 2, and Samsung S9. These are all great choices just in case you’re looking to upgrade from an older phone.

Plus using your smartphone camera is of course the easiest way to take photos and upload to Instagram. It is possible to upload to instagram from a PC or Mac but we love using the app to post.

If you want to level up your mobile photography the Moment lenses are incredible. It’s a fantastic way to get a wide angle or telephoto lens on your phone. It’s also a way to make your Instagram stories more fun by showing more to your audience.

Some apps we recommend to edit your photos include Snapseed, Lightroom Mobile, and VSCO. Additionally the tools and filters built into Instagram are very useful at this point.

Sony a6000 – Best Entry Level Mirrorless Camera

Sony’s mirrorless cameras have taken the market by storm and now are extremely popular. People love the a6000’s fast 11 frames per second RAW shooting and great auto focus. The Sony a6000 also works great in live view for an easier transition from smartphone shooting.

The a6000 hits a real sweet spot between price, image quality, and portability. It weighs about the same as a bottle of water yet delivers pro-quality photos for easily under $1k.

Its lightweight and small form factor makes it great to throw into a bag so you always have it ready at all times, perfect for a travel photographer!

The a6000 includes a tilting LCD screen on the back as well. The tilting screen is perfect for taking photos high up or low to the ground without laying on the ground. The screen only tilts and doesn’t flip to the front which would have been a nice option for selfies and vlogging.

Wifi is also included in the a6000 which makes it super simple to grab images from the camera. Wifi is a great feature for beginners who are familiar with editing and posting form their phone. This is why we recommend cameras with wifi since it can be cumbersome to use a computer for uploading. Additionally it has NFC built in for transfering photos with a tap to Android phones.

The battery life for the a6000 is about ~310 photos. This is a downside of most mirrorless cameras but the batteries are tiny so you can pack a few in your bag. So if you plan on buying this camera we recommend picking up a few extra batteries.

$$$ If you have a larger budget you can get a Sony a6300 or the newly released a6500. The a6500 offers newer features like in-camera image stabilization and a touchscreen which can be useful in low light and for video.

Once mastering these cameras most Sony users upgrade to the Sony a7R II or the newly released Sony a7 III.

Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera 24.3MP SLR Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD (Black) w/16-50mm Power Zoom Lens
  • 24 MP APS-C CMOS sensor and Focus Sensitivity Range :EV 0 to EV 20 (at ISO 100 equivalent with F2.8 lens attached)
  • ISO 100-25600 (expandable to 51200). Lens compatibility- Sony E-mount lenses
  • Hybrid AF with 179-point focal plane phase-detection and 25 contrast detect points
  • Up to 11 FPS continious shooting
  • 3-inch tilting LCD with 921,000 dots.Viewfinder Type:0.39 in-type electronic viewfinder (color)

Canon T6i – Best Entry Level DSLR Camera

Canon T6i with flip out screen

People love Canon camera because of their massive lens selection and fantastic image quality & color science. The T6i is a great introduction to the Canon ecosystem.

With a flippable screen and touch screen it’ll give you many features you’re used to on a smartphone. One downside is that focusing in videos and live view can be slow. So you’ll most likely be using the optical viewfinder to enjoy its fast focus system.

If you’re using the viewfinder (which is a benefit of DSLRs) you’ll get about ~450 photo battery life. If you use live view your battery life will be crushes to ~200 photos though.

On the downside the T6i doesn’t include some of the newer Canon features like dual pixel autofocus which can be found in the Canon 80D and M50. Dual pixel autofocus add incredible autofocus when using live view, the T7i offers dual pixel autofocus. We recommend picking up a Canon camera with dual pixel autofocus if you plan on filming a lot of videos since videos can only be shot in live view.

With the T6i’s built in wifi you’ll enjoy editing and uploading to Instagram on the go.

$$$ Once mastering Canon cropped sensor cameras an awesome full frame camera upgrade is the Canon 6D Mark II or Canon 5D Mark IV. If you’re looking for a high end mirrorless camera from Canon they also make the Canon EOS R which has most of the premium features as a 5D Mark IV but in a smaller body.

Canon EOS Rebel T6i Digital SLR with EF-S 18-55mm IS STM Lens - Wi-Fi Enabled
  • 24.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor, ISO 100-12800 (expandable to H: 25600)
  • EOS Full HD Movie mode helps capture brilliant results in MP4 format. Brightness Control Adjustable to one of seven levels
  • High-speed continuous shooting up to 5.0 fps allows you to capture fast action.
  • 19-point all cross-type AF system allows superb autofocus performance
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC,Minimum Focal Length:18 mm.Compatible Lenses:Canon EF lenses:(including EF-S lenses)

Fuji X-M1 – Mirrorless Alternative

Alternatively you can pick up the Fuji X-M1 if you want something a bit different. Some stand out features include Wifi and larger sensor. For its price it’s a great way to learn the basics of photography without breaking the bank.

The X-M1 also includes a tiltable screen, built-in wifi, and a large sensor in a very small body. Plus it’s hard to resist Fujifilm’s vintage style body.

$$$ If you have a higher budget the Fujifilm X-T100 with its tilt/flip screen, touchscreen, and 24 megapixel sensor is also a great alternative to the X-M1.

Fujifilm X-M1 Compact System 16MP Digital Camera Kit with 16-50mm Lens and 3-Inch LCD Screen (Black)
  • 16.3 MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor
  • ISO 200-6400 (expandable to to 12800 and 24600)
  • 1080/30fps HD video (.MOV/H.264)
  • 49-point AF
  • Up to 5.6 FPS continuous shooting

Choosing Your First Lens

If you’re starting out, the kit lenses (lenses bundled with the camera) are typically good quality. They usually offer a great range of focal length for all types of photography.

After learning how the camera works using the kit lens we highly recommend upgrading to a 50mm prime (great for portraits!). You can usually pick one up for around $100 and most camera companies make an affordable 50mm for their cameras. Prime lenses will give you lower f stops so you have greater control of the depth of field in your photos.

On a side note, without adaptors, lenses aren’t interchangeable between companies.  This is something to consider before you get heavily invested into a brand.

Let us know your thoughts and what you shoot on in the comments!

Posted By

Andy Feliciotti

Andy grew up in College Park and enjoys blogging about photography on his travel blog. @someguy on Instagram