Updated: Jul 30, 2019
I spent hours researching the best deals and where to buy your entry level camera while avoiding scams.
Read the article to find out what I learned, or scroll to the bottom to see my top recommendation for both Canon and Nikon.
Beware! Not all good deals are actually good deals!
As with anytime you buy online, make sure that you only shop at trusted sites such as Amazon.
Personally, I've been scammed several times when trying to buy online and have not received my money back. Several times, I never received the product I paid for. Other times, the product they sent was nothing like the picture.
There are a lot of fake reviews on the web! There are even fake guarantees that are not honored.
Even with trusted websites, be careful.
For example, I've bought stuff online from Amazon or Walmart and had good luck, but that doesn't mean all products are legit. Both definitely carry some gray market cameras. More on that below...
Watch out for knock offs.
I called both Nikon and Canon, and they told me that when you see their products listed on Amazon, make sure the seller is Amazon or Amazon LLC.
You'll see supposedly on-brand products that include a lot of accessories or are sometimes a lower price, but this is a scam. Unless the seller is Amazon or Amazon LLC, don't be lured in as these are NOT the real product.
Red flags include when there are a lot of extras included - both Canon and Nikon told me they don't offer such large bundles as the ones I asked them about on Amazon. You can compare the bundles to what you see on the Canon or Nikon site to see if it's even a bundle they sell.
Other red flags to watch out for: Canon and Nikon would not sell their products cheaply to a re-seller and then let them offer it for a much lower price. How would they make money if they did that?
What is wrong with buying knock off products?
The technical term is grey market products. These are bought overseas, and are re-sold here, unauthorized.
Before I understood the risks, I was thinking: WHO CARES?
Well, the cameras may or may not be actual Canon and Nikon products. Even if they are real, beware! If it breaks or there is any kind of issue with your product, you will NOT be able to get it repaired, not even if you pay.
The camera parts are different in each country and there are regulations and rules that prevent repair people from fixing it for you, according to both Nikon and Canon customer service. Even if they wanted to fix it, it would be tough or impossible to find the parts.
It would be sad to buy a $300 camera that stops working after a month or a year and then to have no way of getting it fixed. It might not break, but why take the risk?
What if I can't afford a nice camera?
Good news! Phones are getting soooo good these days.
I love my Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (but crave the 10). iPhones are obviously super popular too. I like my Note, since the camera actually outperformed the iPhone the year I bought it according to several YouTubers. Also, you can use the pen as a remote, even if the phone is across the room, which is great for selfy group shots.
I'd much rather see you use your phone than to risk loosing money on a gray market camera.
Point-an-shoot cameras are, in my opinion, not worth buying. Just use your phone and then decide if you want to invest in an D-SLR later. If you already have a point-and-shoot camera, of course, you can use it, but if you don't already have one, don't bother buying one.
Just so you know, if you decide to take my online photography class, you can use ANY phone or camera. There are free bonus lessons that come with my class for anyone wanting to make the most of the fancy D-SLR camera features, but you will learn a TON no matter which camera you are using.
What I recommend:
This is where I would buy:
-Amazon.com but ONLY if the seller is Amazon or Amazon LLC
-Nikon or Canon official websites
-Sometimes, the Nikon and Canon website will tell you where you can buy it locally, but check to make sure this is actually the recommendation of Nikon or Canon and not an add that is trying to trick you.
I decided to save you some time, so I called Nikon and Canon to ask which of their D-SLR cameras are the very cheapest.
I've included the two best cameras plus some of my favorite accessories, which are fun but optional. Make sure to get a memory card if your camera doesn't come with one. Also, not listed below, but another camera option is Nikon D-3400, which wasn't available on Amazon.
Some of the following are affiliate links, which means I make a very small percentage if you buy using my link. It doesn't cost you anything extra to use my link, so if you decide to go that route, I'd appreciate your support of my blog. <3
Ready to sign up for my online photography class? Call, text or email me to get started or visit the Classes tab on this website. Meg@megapixelsart.com 517-672-6102