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Best camera under $1300 for professional photography

Mcharles609
Apprentice

Hey guys, I’m kinda new to the photography world. I’ve been decent at taking pictures, and I’ve been wanting to upgrade to a 90D from a T6. That Rebel is still good to me, but after seeing a Mark III in action at wedding, I know I need to upgrade. I’m looking for a camera that can handle most situations for around $1300. 

1 ACCEPTED SOLUTION

deebatman316
Authority
Authority

Is this $1399 for a body only or a kit. The EF Mount is being discontinued and further developed has stopped. So no more new updated bodies or lenses coming. It would be best to look into a mirrorless camera at this point in time. They offer much more features that a DSLR camera can't offer. To use existing EF or EF-S lenses you will need an EF-RF Mount adapter. What lenses do you currently have so far EF or EF-S. EF-S lenses won't mount a Full Frame camera at all. Avoid the EOS-M series mirrorless cameras they have been discontinued. Look into the EOS R series cameras.

Lens Compatability NO EOS M PT. 1.pngLens Compatability NO EOS M PT. 2.png

  • EOS: Electro Optical System (What EOS stands for)
  • EF: Electronic Focus: lens mount ALL EOS DSLRs & Film SLRs use (original EOS Mount) (Red Circle Mounting Index, 12 o’clock position)
  • EF-S: A separate lens Mount designed for APS-C DSLRs NOT compatible and won’t mount to any Full Frame Digital, 35mm Film SLRs or APS-H DSLRs. Note this is a DSLR Crop Sensor ONLY Mount. (White Square Mounting Index, 1 o’clock position)
  • EF-M: Lens Mount for EOS-M series Mirrorless cameras. Incompatible with DSLRs or EOS Film SLRs. (White Circle Mounting Index, 11 o’clock position) (2012-2023, discontinued). 
  • RF: Lens Mount for EOS R series Mirrorless cameras. Incompatible with EOS DSLRs or EOS Film SLRs. (Red Oval Mounting Index, 12 o’clock position)
  • RF-S: Lens is optimized for EOS R series APS-C cameras. Can be used on EOS R series Full Frame cameras but the image is cropped to the APS-C image circle. Note this is NOT a separate lens mount.
  • L: Canon's professional grade lenses only available in Full Frame lenses NO APS-C lenses.
  • DO: Diffractive Optics uses Fresnel lenses
  • I, II, III, IV, V: Some lenses have multiple revisions such as the EF 28-80 F/3.5-5.6 V USM (ONLY lens to have a Version V)
  • Ring Type USM: AF motor type. Provides fast focusing stands for Ultrasonic Motor. Ring Type USM is the original USM AF motor. Shaped like a ring inside the lens. Allows Full Time Manual Focus either Focus by Wire or mechanical.
  • Micro Motor USM: Cheaper and slower AF Motor doesn't allow Full Time Manual Focus. Lens uses gears to adjust focus. EXCEPT for the EF 50mm F/1.4 USM lens (refer to Ring Type USM Mechanical Focus override). (1993-2016, replaced by Nano USM)
  • Nano USM: Combines STM and USM technology for fast AF. Allows Full Time Manual Focus is Focus by wire. (2016- Present)
  • STM: Stepper Motor for quiet AF. Allows Full Time Manual Focus which is Focus by Wire. (2012- Present)
  • AFD: Arc-Form Drive original EOS AF motor. No longer in use was replaced by Micro Motor in 1993 for new lens designs. No Full Time Manual Focus (Retired 1987-1992)
  • Micro Motor: Older least advanced AF motor slower AF used in cheaper lenses. No Full Time Manual Focus. (Retired, 1993-2012) Replaced by STM in 2012.
  • IS: Image Stabilization available in the lens.
  • IBIS: In Body Image Stabilization available in select EOS R Series cameras.
  • Macro: A macro lens with 1:1 magnification
  • Compact Macro: Lens is able to focus closer than a normal macro lens.
  • MP-E: Manual Focus only electronic aperture control no focus to infinity.
  • TS-E: Tilt Shift lens with electronic aperture control no Autofocus. 
  • Soft Focus: Lens is designed to provide a creamy bokeh effect.
  • PZ: Power Zoom lens. Only 1 lens released with this feature. Only the EF 35-80mm F/4-5.6 PZ lens used this. 
  • TTL: Through The Lens Flash metering. Flash system relies on light reflected off the film. NOT compatible with EOS Digital cameras.
  • A-TTL: Advanced Through The Lens Flash metering system in EOS film bodies released in 1986. Replaced by E-TTL in 1995. System uses a pre-flash measured by a sensor on the speedlite itself. NOT compatible with EOS Digital cameras. Uses EZ series speedlites
  • E-TTL Version 1: Evaluative Through The lens Flash metering system. System uses a pre-flash measured by the camera body to calculate flash exposure. System also relies on AF point selection too. Compatible with EX or EL series speedlites. Replaced by E-TTL II in 2004.
  • E-TTL II: Refer to E-TTL Version 1. System was released in 2004 and works similarly to the original E-TTL. But uses focus distance information from the lens. Via a distance encoder in the lens. E-TTL II doesn't rely on AF point selection. Note E-TTL II is IMPLEMENTED in the camera body NOT the speedlite.
  • EOS M Series: A discontinued APS-C mirrorless lineup of cameras (2012-2023). Replaced by EOS R Series APS-C cameras in 2023. EF-M lenses CAN NOT BE ADAPTED to EOS R cameras.
  • EOS R Series: Originally released in 2018 with Full Frame cameras only. Later in 2023 with APS-C cameras. New APS-C lenses were released. 
  • Z: Lens has an optional attachment to allow power zoom. Only the RF 24-105mm F/2.8L IS USM Z lens has this feature.
  • Automatic Brightness Adjustment of LED AF Assist Beam: Feature IS NOT SUPPORTED on the R3, R7 & R10 camera bodies.

-Demetrius

Current Gear: EOS 5D Mark IV, EF F/2.8 Trinity, EF 50mm F/1.8 STM, EF 85mm F/1.8 USM, 470EX-AI & 600EX II-RT

Retired Gear: EOS 40D

View solution in original post

18 REPLIES 18

deebatman316
Authority
Authority

Is this $1399 for a body only or a kit. The EF Mount is being discontinued and further developed has stopped. So no more new updated bodies or lenses coming. It would be best to look into a mirrorless camera at this point in time. They offer much more features that a DSLR camera can't offer. To use existing EF or EF-S lenses you will need an EF-RF Mount adapter. What lenses do you currently have so far EF or EF-S. EF-S lenses won't mount a Full Frame camera at all. Avoid the EOS-M series mirrorless cameras they have been discontinued. Look into the EOS R series cameras.

Lens Compatability NO EOS M PT. 1.pngLens Compatability NO EOS M PT. 2.png

  • EOS: Electro Optical System (What EOS stands for)
  • EF: Electronic Focus: lens mount ALL EOS DSLRs & Film SLRs use (original EOS Mount) (Red Circle Mounting Index, 12 o’clock position)
  • EF-S: A separate lens Mount designed for APS-C DSLRs NOT compatible and won’t mount to any Full Frame Digital, 35mm Film SLRs or APS-H DSLRs. Note this is a DSLR Crop Sensor ONLY Mount. (White Square Mounting Index, 1 o’clock position)
  • EF-M: Lens Mount for EOS-M series Mirrorless cameras. Incompatible with DSLRs or EOS Film SLRs. (White Circle Mounting Index, 11 o’clock position) (2012-2023, discontinued). 
  • RF: Lens Mount for EOS R series Mirrorless cameras. Incompatible with EOS DSLRs or EOS Film SLRs. (Red Oval Mounting Index, 12 o’clock position)
  • RF-S: Lens is optimized for EOS R series APS-C cameras. Can be used on EOS R series Full Frame cameras but the image is cropped to the APS-C image circle. Note this is NOT a separate lens mount.
  • L: Canon's professional grade lenses only available in Full Frame lenses NO APS-C lenses.
  • DO: Diffractive Optics uses Fresnel lenses
  • I, II, III, IV, V: Some lenses have multiple revisions such as the EF 28-80 F/3.5-5.6 V USM (ONLY lens to have a Version V)
  • Ring Type USM: AF motor type. Provides fast focusing stands for Ultrasonic Motor. Ring Type USM is the original USM AF motor. Shaped like a ring inside the lens. Allows Full Time Manual Focus either Focus by Wire or mechanical.
  • Micro Motor USM: Cheaper and slower AF Motor doesn't allow Full Time Manual Focus. Lens uses gears to adjust focus. EXCEPT for the EF 50mm F/1.4 USM lens (refer to Ring Type USM Mechanical Focus override). (1993-2016, replaced by Nano USM)
  • Nano USM: Combines STM and USM technology for fast AF. Allows Full Time Manual Focus is Focus by wire. (2016- Present)
  • STM: Stepper Motor for quiet AF. Allows Full Time Manual Focus which is Focus by Wire. (2012- Present)
  • AFD: Arc-Form Drive original EOS AF motor. No longer in use was replaced by Micro Motor in 1993 for new lens designs. No Full Time Manual Focus (Retired 1987-1992)
  • Micro Motor: Older least advanced AF motor slower AF used in cheaper lenses. No Full Time Manual Focus. (Retired, 1993-2012) Replaced by STM in 2012.
  • IS: Image Stabilization available in the lens.
  • IBIS: In Body Image Stabilization available in select EOS R Series cameras.
  • Macro: A macro lens with 1:1 magnification
  • Compact Macro: Lens is able to focus closer than a normal macro lens.
  • MP-E: Manual Focus only electronic aperture control no focus to infinity.
  • TS-E: Tilt Shift lens with electronic aperture control no Autofocus. 
  • Soft Focus: Lens is designed to provide a creamy bokeh effect.
  • PZ: Power Zoom lens. Only 1 lens released with this feature. Only the EF 35-80mm F/4-5.6 PZ lens used this. 
  • TTL: Through The Lens Flash metering. Flash system relies on light reflected off the film. NOT compatible with EOS Digital cameras.
  • A-TTL: Advanced Through The Lens Flash metering system in EOS film bodies released in 1986. Replaced by E-TTL in 1995. System uses a pre-flash measured by a sensor on the speedlite itself. NOT compatible with EOS Digital cameras. Uses EZ series speedlites
  • E-TTL Version 1: Evaluative Through The lens Flash metering system. System uses a pre-flash measured by the camera body to calculate flash exposure. System also relies on AF point selection too. Compatible with EX or EL series speedlites. Replaced by E-TTL II in 2004.
  • E-TTL II: Refer to E-TTL Version 1. System was released in 2004 and works similarly to the original E-TTL. But uses focus distance information from the lens. Via a distance encoder in the lens. E-TTL II doesn't rely on AF point selection. Note E-TTL II is IMPLEMENTED in the camera body NOT the speedlite.
  • EOS M Series: A discontinued APS-C mirrorless lineup of cameras (2012-2023). Replaced by EOS R Series APS-C cameras in 2023. EF-M lenses CAN NOT BE ADAPTED to EOS R cameras.
  • EOS R Series: Originally released in 2018 with Full Frame cameras only. Later in 2023 with APS-C cameras. New APS-C lenses were released. 
  • Z: Lens has an optional attachment to allow power zoom. Only the RF 24-105mm F/2.8L IS USM Z lens has this feature.
  • Automatic Brightness Adjustment of LED AF Assist Beam: Feature IS NOT SUPPORTED on the R3, R7 & R10 camera bodies.

-Demetrius

Current Gear: EOS 5D Mark IV, EF F/2.8 Trinity, EF 50mm F/1.8 STM, EF 85mm F/1.8 USM, 470EX-AI & 600EX II-RT

Retired Gear: EOS 40D

rs-eos
Elite
Elite

By professional, are you planning to get paid?  If so, what genres?   What lenses do you already own?

--
Ricky

Camera: EOS 5D IV, EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 135mm f/2L
Lighting: Profoto Lights & Modifiers

stevet1
Whiz
Whiz

Mcharles609,

If you were to upgrade from a T6 to a 90D, I think you will be surprised and delighted.

Your enjoyment of photography will expand tenfold.

Steve Thomas

Tronhard
Elite
Elite

Given you are new to photography, even though you can take decent photos, there is a huge gap between doing it for pleasure when you only have to please yourself and doing it professionally, when you have to deliver a service and product of an acceptable standard with utter reliability - often that means having and shooting with a second body: you cannot say to a client 'sorry, my bad my camera had an issue'...  Nor can you afford an errors in terms of technical skill and composition.
You say you saw a "MkIII" (is that the 5DMkIII?) at a wedding, but you have given us no idea of the types of subjects you want to shoot, and given you have been using an APS-C consumer-level camera, what lenses do you have.  The 5DMkIII is an older, but excellent professional grade Full Frame camera.  In the right hands it will deliver excellent results, but there are a couple of points to consider:
1.  BUDGET: You say you want to spend $1300, but is that for the body alone, or for a body and lenses to work with it?  If  your current lenses are EF-S lenses they simply will not physically fit the FF DSLR body, so you would have to consider money from optics as well.  That then takes us to what you are going to shoot.
2. Different subjects demand different optics.  For weddings you might want something like the EF 24-70L f/2.8 or f/4 lens, or 24-105L f/4 lenses, and for further reach something like the EF 70-200L (of which there are about six versions, but I recommend one with image stabilization and at least a MkII version.  You could consider the EF 70-300 4.5-5.6 IS USM MkII, which is a good optic and likely to be cheaper.   The EF FF lenses tend to be on the more expensive side, and if you are going professional you need good glass - the L series are built for professional use. Remember, you have absolutely no ability whatsoever to make mistakes at critical events like a wedding you will not be forgiven for failing to come up with professional output for a non-repeatable occasion.
Other genres, like landscape, sports, and wildlife have their own specific equipment requirements so it is critical to be very specific as to your intended fields of work.
Taking images is only part of the job, you need to consider the output - so you want to have a good print making service to produce professional-quality images, and decent PP software to ensure that you can print to the specific needs of a printer.
Unless you can be assured of shooting in available light, you need to create your own, through strobes or lighting panels and know how to use them.
Outside of the issues of a camera, you need to consider other business issues, such as legal requirements and contracts, professional liability and taxation if you are starting a business.  Those are not cheap, but without protection of contracts and insurance you could end up seriously out of pocket if you are not clear about what you will deliver and are not covered for unforeseen events.
Going pro has a lot more to it than getting a good camera.  I'm not trying to dampen your enthusiasm but I have come across a lot of folks who want to be professionals and don't consider all the other things that are not tied to camera gear - and I don't want you to fall foul of those.


cheers, TREVOR

"The Amount of Misery expands to fill the space available"
"All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris

shadowsports
Legend
Legend

Greetings,

I started this post yesterday, and thought I'd give the thread starter a chance to reply.  My comments have some of the items mentioned by Trevor.  

 "A camera that can handle most situations for $1300" is a tall request.  Besides a contract and prelim discussion with the party you are performing services for, a camera with dual card slots is really recommended for performing professional gigs.  This is for your protection as well as the customer and is something I suggest you consider.  This is probably one of the reasons why Ricky asked if you were going to be paid or not?

Taking lenses with you (moving forward) is often helpful, but not always possible until you decide on a particular format.  You mentioned a mkIII?  Does this mean 5D mkIII?  If so, that's a full frame camera.  

As far as upgrading to another DSLR.  This investment too should be considered.  Canon is no longer developing DSLR's, nor are they making new EF or EF-S lenses.  If you are considering embarking into professional photography, doing so (starting out) with a platform and lenses which are on the decline might not be the best choice.  We were having this discussion earlier on another thread.  Someone in a similar situation who was trying to decide what's next.  A colleague here brought up what I just pointed out.  (Waddizzle) The user contemplating the upgrade had a larger budget than you. It would be difficult if not impossible to purchase a professional camera, lenses and the extras required to start shooting professionally on your budget.  You cannot do this with 1 lens, 1 battery or 1 memory card (for example).  

Regardless of which platform you choose DSLR or Mirrorless, you are going to be challenged doing so with a limited budget.  If this will be for fun, this lowers the expectation.  I'd still recommend mirrorless given what you own now and intent to invest in.

~Rick
Bay Area - CA


~R5 C (1.0.6.1) ~RF Trinity, ~RF 100 Macro, ~RF 100~400, ~RF 100~500, +RF 1.4x TC, +Canon Control Ring, BG-R10, 430EX III-RT ~DxO PhotoLab Elite ~DaVinci Resolve ~Windows11 Pro ~ImageClass MF644Cdw/MF656Cdw ~Pixel 8
~CarePaks Are Worth It

Rick's comments chime with mine.  I think you will be challenged to get any of the higher end DSLRs or Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras (MILCs) within that budget, especially with a lens that is fit for any professional work.
As we have all alluded to, being a professional is far, far more than the gear and I would recommend looking at a camera you can grow with as an amateur without pressure to produce for others.  Many of us have been professionals and we know how tough it can be to work in a competitive and demanding market - one has to be on top of one's game.
In that respect, given you seem to really enjoy photography, I would suggest watching these videos from Sean Tucker (definitely continue to the second one!).  Sean is a great photographer for whom I have great respect, and who has a great deal of common sense - worth following:

 and

I would also encourage you to consider an R-series camera.  The DSLR platform is on life support: no further bodies or lenses on the Canon roadmaps, and the number of produced units is reducing.  The other platform, the M-series, is completely abandoned, so it is clear that Canon is concentrating their efforts on R-series bodies and lenses with an RF mount.
I would strongly encourage you to check out this link about what you should consider when buying gear:
Understanding Value and the Questions You Need to Ask Yourself When Buying Camera Gear 

Having hopefully done so, I would encourage you to come back to us with an idea of the market space you hope to work in as a pro (e.g. events, sports, stock photography): considering subject types (e.g. street, studio portraits, wildlife, architecture), and what you hope to produce (digital media, video, smaller prints, portfolios, industrial, commercial).
Consider the competition... Right now the following sites offer royalty-free images from some excellent photographers, and from now on you will also be competing with AI-generated images for all but specific people, events of subjects - I encourage you to browse these sites and ask yourself if you can match or beat them. 
It is becoming harder to work as a general photographer, so you have to have skill and talent, and a great portfolio.
Beautiful Free Images & Pictures | Unsplash
4.2 million+ Stunning Free Images to Use Anywhere - Pixabay - Pixabay
Free Stock Photos, Royalty Free Stock Images & Copyright Free Pictures · Pexels

Photography has changed a lot since I began my career many decades ago, the technology has got a lot better but demands on skill level have not reduced.  Plus, the competition is much, much greater...


cheers, TREVOR

"The Amount of Misery expands to fill the space available"
"All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris

ebiggs1
Legend
Legend

I admit I didn't bother reading all the fluff above but I can confidently say unless you go used $1300 isn't possible. Some of the time it isn't the camera that can't handle the situation as it is the lens. So this means you will need more than one lens further making $1300 not possible. I can say the 90D along with the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens is as good as it gets and not even any of the new R series will best it by a significant degree. And it would be close to that $1300 limit if a 90D is your love.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

Just because you can't be bothered reading the material posted by your colleagues does not make it 'fluff'.    We show you respect, kindly do the same for us.


cheers, TREVOR

"The Amount of Misery expands to fill the space available"
"All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris

John_SD
Whiz

"Hey guys, I’m kinda new to the photography world... after seeing a Mark III in action at wedding, I know I need to upgrade."

You need to upgrade? What makes you say that? You can't possibly have outgrown the T6 at this point. I would keep shooting and learning. Do you really feel that you have mastered composition, the exposure triangle, thoroughly understand all the settings and controls on the camera and when to invoke them, are comfortable using Lightroom and Photoshop? Not trying to be snarky, but as a self-described newbie, you are a long, long way from being a real pro. And by a pro, I don't mean someone who makes $4.26 a year selling a few "stock" photos for chump change. Enjoy the hobby and the learning experience that comes from being your own worst critic. 

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