Passion is the first step to becoming a good photographer. And owning the right equipment comes a close second. Ali Bharmal, sports photographer, partner of Pal Pillai and co-founder of Focus Sports, began his life as a photographer, with a Nikon D3.

Like his career, which started with a stint at Red Bull (and a mentorship under Predrag Vuckovic, one of the world’s best action/adventure photographers) and has peaked with the establishment of his own photo agency, his cameras too have changed. Bharmal now depends on Nikon D5 series cameras to capture sporting moments.

Here are Bharmal’s recommendations for your first DSLR camera.

ALi bharmal 1

For novice photographers

For anyone who is looking at getting into photography as an amateur, I would recommend the Nikon D3300 or the D3400. This is a great system to learn on and has the capability of growing with your skills sets, as you can upgrade your lenses. Even though it is an entry level camera, the output matches –and in some cases – is better than the professional cameras by competitor brands, which are 3-4 times more expensive. In case you are looking at a little more flexibility, then the Nikon D5500 or 5600 will be more suited for you. They have several consumer-friendly features, such as tilt screens, but the output more or less remains the same.

For fashion, architecture and landscape photographers

I would recommend the Nikon D810, or if you can wait a few months, the newly announced D850. The D810 delivers next to medium format image quality in a full frame sensor. The 36 megapixels will count here, giving you immense flexibility and the ability to shoot professional and commercial assignments where you need large prints or have to crop in to get the right frame for your image.

Also Read: World Photography Day: The Best Fashion Photographs of All Time

For travel photographers

The Nikon D750 offers the highest value for money in a full frame setup. If size is a concern, the Nikon D5500 or D5600 will not let you down either. These cameras are known for their creative flexibility and outstanding image quality. Depending on your budget, these will prove to be excellent travel companions.

Also Read: Through the Lens: With Travel Photographer Pankaj Anand

For sports and wildlife photographers

These two genres of photography are very similar in terms of the technical requirement and output. For capturing both, you need a camera with good low light capability, fast shutter speed and a tough weather-sealed body to survive the demands of a dusty or wet environment.

For amateur sports and wildlife photographers, I would recommend the Nikon D7500 or the D750. And for the professionals or serious hobbyist, I would recommend the D500 or the D5.

“With the advancement in silicon technology and sensor capabilities, there are many amazing options to choose from, but I have always shot with Nikon systems and they have never let me down in the toughest of environments,” says Ali.

Also Read: Factors to Consider When Buying Your First Professional DSLR

Cover image and image via Ali Bharmal

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