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We recommend a DSLR model for the photographer in training so that they can experiment with a variety of features.
We recommend a DSLR model for the photographer in training so that they can experiment with a variety of features. (BestReviews)

As a parent, you always want to be supportive of your child's interests. But when it comes to photography, if you're not a photographer yourself it can sometimes be difficult to make sense of all the different types of equipment your kid might need to pursue their hobby.

We feel you! That's why we spoke to our director of photography, Amos Terry, to figure out what makes a great starter kit for your budding photographer. With the holidays around the corner, we know your child is going to love finding one of these camera kits under the tree.

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Know before you shop

Amos says that your child's first camera should be able to shoot in manual mode. This will allow them to experiment with the fundamentals of an exposure -- shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. It's important for beginners to learn how these elements work together to produce varying creative effects. For this reason, Amos recommends a DSLR over a mirrorless camera.

Our top picks

Know someone interested in photography? Set them up with this starter kit

The Canon SL2 isn't as clunky as your typical DSLR, which makes it a great starter camera for growing kids. The embedded microphone and 1080p full HD video capability make this camera a great option if your child is interested in shooting video. This kit includes a standard zoom lens and a magnifying telephoto lens.

Know someone interested in photography? Set them up with this starter kit

This Canon T7 EOS Rebel DSLR kit it a great option for beginners. The extensive kit comes with two lenses and a variety of helpful accessories like a strap, travel case, and memory card. This is a suitable option if your child wants a versatile camera that will alway them to experiment with stills and video.

This bundle from Canon includes one lens, a carrying bag, a memory card, and a lens-cleaning cloth.

Know someone interested in photography? Set them up with this starter kit

The Nikon D5300 is an older generation Nikon DX series originally released in 2014. This model offers excellent image quality and 1080p full HD videos. Our director of photography recommends this model for serious beginners who are ready to take advantage of the excellent image quality and 1080p full HD videos this camera offers. This kit comes complete with lenses and other helpful accessories.

Know someone interested in photography? Set them up with this starter kit

If you don't want to spring for the full D5300 camera kit we suggest this body and lens bundle. It comes with an 18-55mm lens.

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The Nikon D3500 is a good option if you're questioning whether to invest big money into a potentially fleeting hobby. While the camera and lens kit will still set you back a bit, it's one of the more budget-friendly entry-level DSLRs. It will allow your child to experiment on manual mode and shoot videos.

Know someone interested in photography? Set them up with this starter kit

Nikon D3500 DSLR Body Only: $287.00 at Amazon

If you'd like to hold off on accessories and lenses, or buy them individually, Amazon also sells the Nikon D3500 as a standalone model. It comes with a charger and a battery.

Must-have photography accessories

Know someone interested in photography? Set them up with this starter kit

This lightweight, extendable tripod works with most cameras under 6.6 pounds. It comes equipped with a built-in level to help your child determine if the base is flat and a shoulder bag for easy carrying.

Know someone interested in photography? Set them up with this starter kit

As your child collects more equipment, a backpack like this is a great alternative to potentially cumbersome shoulder bags. This backpack has space for a camera body, multiple lenses and accessories, and a tripod. Did we mention that it's waterproof?

Know someone interested in photography? Set them up with this starter kit

If your child knows they want to do portrait photography, why not invest in a portable studio setup like this one from LimoStudio? The kit comes with two tall lights, one short light, two reflective umbrellas, and a carrying bag.

Know someone interested in photography? Set them up with this starter kit

If your child wants to experiment with new techniques or plans to photograph dark scenes, it might be a good idea to purchase a flash like the TT560 Flash Speedlite. This model is inexpensive and well-reviewed.

Know someone interested in photography? Set them up with this starter kit

This inexpensive mic will help your budding photojournalist, vlogger, or filmmaker learn the tricks of their trade and produce quality work.

Know someone interested in photography? Set them up with this starter kit

For ambitious young photographers, it's important to protect their photography equipment for the elements. This professional camera cover will protect your child's camera if they're shooting or filming in rain, sleet, or snow.

Know someone interested in photography? Set them up with this starter kit

Canon USB Cable IFC-200U: $14.69 at Amazon

This USB interface cable will allow your child to transfer images to their computer more quickly. This cable is compatible with both the Canon EOS Rebel SL2 Digital SLR Camera and the Canon T7 EOS Rebel DSLR Camera and your PC or MAC.

Keep in mind

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When purchasing a starter camera, there are a few pro tips you should take note of:

Don't break the bank. Even if your child falls in love with photography, they will likely outgrow the lenses or the whole camera in a couple years.

New isn't always best. Camera companies are always making tweaks and updates to their gear. For this reason, you shouldn't feel like you need to get your kid the latest and greatest. We recommend buying two or three generations back from the latest model. Your child won't have enough experience to notice the difference.

Don't forget the lenses. Including a couple of lenses in your purchase will allow your child to experiment with different zoom lengths and depths of field.

Expect brand loyalty. According to Amos, photographers tend to stick with their first camera brand. If your child has already started experimenting with photography and has developed a preference, it might be a good idea to keep this in mind.

A mirrorless option

Know someone interested in photography? Set them up with this starter kit

Mirrorless cameras tend to be smaller and lighter but lack many of the features you'd find in a DSLR, like an optical viewfinder. If your child is dead set on a mirrorless camera, we recommend the Sony a5100. This mirrorless model has a tiltable LCD screen that flips up 180 degrees, perfect for making sure that the lighting, angle, and focus of your child's selfies are just right. This camera is also WiFi-enabled.

An instant film option

Know someone interested in photography? Set them up with this starter kit

If your child is interested in photography but may not be old enough or responsible enough to take care of a DSLR and multiple lenses, try starting them out with an instant film camera like the Fujifilm instax mini 9. Amazon sells the camera as part of a bundle which includes a camera case, four packs of film, batteries and a lens cleaning cloth. You can also buy the standalone camera and one roll of film at Amazon.

Meredith Gallo is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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