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How Much Does a Professional Camera Cost? (With Examples)

About 130,000 people work as photographers in the United States. But you don’t have to be a professional photographer to get a professional camera. Whether you need new equipment for your career or hobby, you should know how much a camera costs.

A new professional camera costs $4,499 to $6,299, but used cameras start as low as $100. The cost of the camera usually doesn’t include a lens, so it’s important to think about professional lenses as well. Depending on how many lenses are necessary, the price can add up quickly.

Whether you want to upgrade your current camera or your current camera doesn’t work, you should consider a professional model. However, you should also know what you can expect to pay. Some cameras can be cheaper than others, so think about your budget and what you want from pro-level equipment.

Photographer Taking Sunset Photographs of Ocean

How Much Does an Average Professional Camera Cost?

A professional camera is not cheap, so you should compare a few on the market. Every photographer needs something different, and the most or least expensive option might not be the best for you.

New professional cameras go for about $4,000 to $6,500, but the specific price depends on the model and maker. At the time of release, here are some prices of the most popular professional cameras:

  1. Nikon D1: $4,999
  2. Nikon D2: $4,999 to $6,299
  3. Nikon D3: $4,999
  4. Nikon D4: $6,000
  5. Canon 1D: $4,499

However, many of these models are now available on the used market. As a newer model comes out, the older model will drop in price. For example, a used Nikon D1 usually costs about $100, but it has the same specs as when it came out. Used models will typically decrease in price as they age, so they might start at a higher price.

What Is the Cheapest Professional Camera?

Considering the prices for average professional cameras, the cheapest one is a used Nikon D1, with a price tag of $100 or so. It offers a lot of great features, but you don’t have to spend a ton of money.

However, if you need a new professional camera, the cheapest would be the Canon 1D at $4,499. It has a burst mode, and you can get it with or without a lens.

Should You Get a Professional Camera?

When looking at the price of a professional camera, you may find that it’s more than you thought. A professional camera can help you get good-quality shots, but you don’t always need one.

Think about how often you take photos, the lighting you use, and your budget. If you’re new to photography, you may not want to splurge on a camera just yet. But if you’ve done it for a while, you might be ready for an upgrade.

You can get started with a used professional camera so that you can learn the ropes. Once you have more experience, you can upgrade to a newer model.

What Is a Good Starter Camera?

If you decide that you aren’t ready for a professional camera, you can get a starter model. Starter cameras are usually much cheaper than professional models, but they don’t have as many advanced features.

For a cheap, good starter camera, consider the Kodak PIXPRO AZ401. It has optical zoom and is small enough to carry around in your camera bag.

If you want a DSLR, a good starter model is the Canon EOS Rebel T6. It offers image stabilization and comes with a memory card so that you can get started immediately.

Professional Camera Specs

Before you choose the right professional camera for you, you need to consider the specs. If a camera can’t do what you want, it won’t matter how professional it is. You want any purchase you make to help your photography.

Most cameras have a list of specs that you can look at to see if they fit your needs. You don’t have to get the most expensive professional camera, but more expensive models usually have more or better specs. However, you should be able to use the camera that you get, so you should have some photography experience.

Consider a few common camera specs to look at when comparing a few potential professional cameras. Then, you can choose the best equipment for you.

Design and Size

When it comes to getting a professional camera, you probably care a lot about image quality. However, you should also think about the size and weight of the camera. You need to be able to manipulate your camera and use it in different scenarios.

If you like to travel for your photography, you should be able to take your camera easily. The shape of your camera can also affect how comfortable it is to hold. If possible, test the camera in person before you buy it to make sure that you’re able to hold it and take pictures.

Startup Time

Depending on how and where you shoot, you may not have much time between setting up and getting the first shot. If that’s the case, you need a professional camera with a short startup time. The longer it takes for the camera to load, the more you can miss out on.

Startup time is also important because it can affect longer shoots after a break. You want to make sure that your camera works quickly. And that also applies to taking photos.

Shutter Lag

Shutter lag refers to the amount of time between taking a photo and the lens closing and registering the image. If there is a significant lag, you may not be able to get certain shots. Motion shots, for example, can be impossible if your camera lags.

Consider cameras with burst mode or continuous shooting features because those are more likely to have less of a lag. If a camera doesn’t have those features, you should test it to make sure it can take good photos.

Megapixels and Image Quality

Probably the most important factor in a professional camera is the image quality, and that relates to the number of megapixels. Having more megapixels will give you better quality when printing larger images, though you don’t need as many as you think.

But you should care about image quality, especially if you need to shoot in settings with less light. In that case, consider a camera with a big light sensor.

Zoom Lens and Image Stability

If you ever need or want to film from far away, you should look for a camera that works with a zoom lens. While you may need to purchase a lens separately, you should make sure the camera you choose is compatible with that.

Also, having a camera that can stabilize your images means you can get clearer photos. You won’t have to worry about being still while having a photoshoot, so you can focus on getting more shots.

Professional Camera Lenses

When determining how much a professional camera costs, you have to think about the lens. Some cameras come with lenses, but it’s not uncommon for a professional model to only include the body.

So when you set your budget for a new camera lens, you should consider what type of lens you’ll need. You may also need more than one lens, depending on the type of photography that you do.

The cheapest camera lens is about $100, and these cheaper lenses usually don’t do much for your photos. They might include a filter, but you probably need something more.

To get a good camera lens, you can expect to pay about $1,000 to $6,000 for a single lens. So if you need multiple lenses, you’ll have to consider the price of each. Depending on the specs you need, that could easily add up to more than the price of your camera.


Shopping for a professional camera is a big deal. You are making an investment in your photography, and you should consider how you’ll use the camera before you buy it. Then, you can decide if you have enough money for a new model or if you should check out the used market.

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