1. Quick Recommendations

Nikon D3300 dSLR camera with 18-55mm kit lens

Before we get started with our step by step guide, here is the best entry-level dSLR camera for an amateur or beginner photographer, and a couple of really cool and cheap interchangeable lenses:

The Best Amateur Camera

As of May 2016, the best entry-level dSLR camera for an amateur or beginner photographer is the Nikon D3300. The D3300 is also the best deal you can get on a new a dSLR camera under $400 from Adorama. It is light, easy to use, very well built, and has powerful 24MP sensor that produces fantastic photos in any type of light.

The Nikon D3300 has every pro feature most people need. If you’re shooting weddings, pro sports, or studio portraits, head to the Nikon page to read about more professional cameras.

Best Value Kit For Beginners:

Nikon D3300 kit with 18-55mm lens for $396. Add this Nikon 70-300mm lens for $170, and a SanDisk 32GB Extreme Pro SD card for $35.

Best pro wedding/portrait camera: Nikon D750 (comes with 24-120mm VR lens).

Canon also makes great cameras, but none of its latest entry-level dSLRs match the quality and price of the Nikon D3300. If you prefer Canon over Nikon, read more about Canon cameras here.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8, Canon 50mm f/1.8, Nikon 35mm f/1.8

Best lens for taking indoor photos of your kids

Assuming that you already have a kit lens, or are purchasing a camera that includes one, here are a couple of my favorite lenses that will make a huge difference when you take indoor portraits:

Best Lenses under $250

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 – (G AF-S version) Nikon DX and FX bodies – $200
Nikon 35mm f/1.8 – only works on Nikon DX bodies: D3300, D5500, or D7200 – $200
Canon 50mm f/1.8 – (STM version) works on all Canon bodies – $125

Tip: the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 is the ideal every-day lens on full frame FX cameras, and it’s a great portrait lens on DX cameras. The Nikon 35mm f/1.8 is my top choice for all day, every day photos of my kids.

The wider aperture on these lenses (f/1.8 vs. f/5.6 on your kit lens) allows you to take photos indoor at a much faster shutter speed, and also softens your backgrounds beautifully. Check out the lenses section for more details and other awesome lenses.