I love this question! When I started shooting over 10 years ago, I bought the Canon Rebel XT, and then I eventually upgraded to the Canon Rebel t2i, and then the Canon 5D Mark III, and now I have the Canon 5D Mark IV. (And I am definitely considering going mirrorless with the Canon R5 or Canon R6 – those dual memory card slots almost have me sold – but that’s a whole other topic!)
Starter Camera Suggestion
But for someone starting their business now, I’d recommend the Canon Rebel t7i. It’s an incredible cropped-frame starter camera for a budget-friendly price. But if you have the money available, go straight for the full frame Canon 5D Mark IV!
And for starter lenses, I have a few suggestions and one major thing to avoid!
If you want to start with an inexpensive lens that packs a punch, I’d recommend starting with the Canon 50mm f/1.8 (it’s only $100!!), and then eventually upgrading to either the Canon 50mm f/1.4 or Canon 50mm f/1.2L. I did that exact progression – started with the 1.8, eventually saved up for the 1.4, and finally got the 1.2L.
The Canon 50mm f/1.2L is my all time favorite lens! If I could only shoot with one lens, that would be it.
Another great starter option is the Sigma ART 35mm 1.4. If you plan to shoot families, I’d start with a wider angle lens like the 35mm, and if you plan to shoot couples or weddings, I’d start with a 50mm.
Lenses to Avoid
Avoid ANY lens with a sliding aperture! The kit lenses that come with a camera body often have a sliding aperture – it’s common to see an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 (that f-stop range is sliding aperture), but save yourself the money and buy a prime (no zoom) lens instead. And definitely stick to a fixed aperture lens if possible. They are always a little more expensive but 100% worth it!
When you’re learning to shoot in manual, sliding aperture is your worst enemy – because as you change the focal length by zooming in or out, it will automatically change the aperture on you. And change the aperture will then change the exposure AND the depth of field!
Rechargeable AA batteries (gamechangers! They recycle so much more quickly than normal batteries!)
SD Card – 128 GB (fast enough to keep up with shooting quickly using dual card slots)