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Is it still ok to learn on a DSLR?


I would like to learn more about photography. I’ve used point and shoot (film and digital) cameras in the past but I’ve been exclusively using my iPhone for the past 7 years. I’ve mostly convinced myself to buy a Rebel t7i, as the $775 price for camera + kit lens that I see fits my budget well. My plan is to learn on the Rebel and kit lens for as many years as I can and buy EF or EF-S lenses if I need them. If I feel the need to upgrade the camera in the future, I’ll likely buy a Canon R series to continue using any EF lenses I’ve accumulated.

Have I missed something important? Should I be considering a mirrorless option more strongly? I’ll probably keep whatever I buy for 5+ years. If it matters, I’ll primarily take pictures of family, urban life (buildings, architectural features, people) and landscapes. I don’t anticipate shooting a lot of video.

Edit 11/1: I appreciate the replies I've received. I've been doing my best to understand the equipment and what it does and ignore marketing hype.

Edit 11/3: For anyone following this thread I decided the solution for me was to look for a mirrorless option. While I agree that someone can learn photography on any camera, I don't currently have any cameras or lenses so it makes sense to me to choose an R series camera as my first. Thank you to all who offered their helpful opinions.



Whoops..  late post.



You can learn the fundamentals on a DSLR.

If your budget is under $1k, the T8i kit is a better option.  Refurb directly from Canon is $719

If it were me, first time camera buyer, I'd go mirrorless.  Costs just a little bit more, but will provide a higher return on investment in the long run.  Its up to you.  DSLR equipment will continue to drop in price and become more scarce.  MILC (mirrorless) is here to stay.  Investing in older EF glass today is not as wise a value proposition as it was previously.  Yes there is still a market for it, but 5 yrs from now, it will be a different story.  Whereas mirrorless will be mature and continuing to be refined. 

Buying a DSLR today is something you need to be prepared to walk away from.  That ship has sailed (as others have said).  Mirrorless is still in its infancy comparatively.  It has a long road ahead.

Don't let me dissuade you from buying a DSLR.  You'll love it and will have years of learning and happy memories.  Just understand that manufacturers have already started to shift and move away from this technology.

Bay Area - CA

~R5 C ( ~RF Trinity, ~RF 100 Macro, ~RF 100~400, ~RF 100~500, +RF 1.4x TC, +Canon Control Ring, BG-R10

~DxO PhotoLab Elite ~DaVinci Resolve ~Windows11 Pro ~ImageClass MF644Cdw ~Pixel 8 ~CarePaks Are Worth It

View solution in original post


To answer your original question simply, OF COURSE you can learn on a DSLR. All of the principles of photography and digital photography are the same, and you can absolutely transfer all the knowledge and skills you add.

I am a firm believer in avoiding latest technology when older stuff will do all you want to do for the foreseeable future. And if cost is an issue (as it is for lots of us, despite what some think it should be), you can use EF and EFS lenses on the R-series mirrorless cameras, if and when you think you have outgrown the "old" way. They are also widely available on the used market. The DSLR IS NOT OBSOLETE!!!

View solution in original post


I have not tried the R series for several reasons. There is not a camera store within 250 Km from here so I can't even pick one up to see what feels like. I can order one and have it shipped but if I don't like it I can't send it back and I'm out 3K.

I know how you feel...  In NZ you can't send them back, if you don't like it - you buy it you own it.  Mind you, if you do buy it you get a 5-year warranty, and we have some legislations called the Consumers Guarantee Act that says if a device or service fails and it is outside factory warranty, but should still have been serviceable under reasonable conditions (as defined by the Consumers' Institute), the business that sold it to you has to fix it at their cost or replace it.  So, extended warranties are a waste of money.

For me, going between the my DSLRs and MILCs is fairly transparent.  I know my DSLR controls well enough to find them without looking and I find the transition fairly transparent - but that is slightly model specific.  As far as the R5 and R6 go, it's easy - the layout is almost identical.  For those using the R, the 'slidey' control is odd, and the R7 has that new control wheel location - neither of which I am interested in.   Some folks find the EVF different, but I have not had an issue, and for sure being able to see a much more accurate rendition of exposure is great.

One day you will be in the right place - either by a store, or someone who has one you can play with, in which case I would encourage you to take the opportunity to try - even out of idle curiosity.  Again, accepting that any new thing in the had takes a bit of getting used to.

cheers, TREVOR

Before you ask us, have you looked in the manual or on the Canon Support Site?
"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

While my post got marked as the solution, I feel that many here contributed to the conversation pointing out the pros and cons (if you can call them that) and the benefits each platform offers for learning basic photography today and beyond.  The tools have certainly changed (evolved), but the fundamentals of the exposure triangle still apply regardless of the age of your gear and capability.  We are all here to help one another.  I truly appreciate and enjoy everyone's kindness and wisdom.

Bay Area - CA

~R5 C ( ~RF Trinity, ~RF 100 Macro, ~RF 100~400, ~RF 100~500, +RF 1.4x TC, +Canon Control Ring, BG-R10

~DxO PhotoLab Elite ~DaVinci Resolve ~Windows11 Pro ~ImageClass MF644Cdw ~Pixel 8 ~CarePaks Are Worth It