Recently I met with a group of amateur photographers who were keen to learn the skills required to make a success of studio, portrait and wedding photography. Occasionally I was asked about my opinions on the kind of gear I thought they should consider buying. Maybe you are in the same boat? You would like to buy your first 'serious' camera but you're unsure of where to start? Well let me give you food for thought, from someone who has used all kinds of cameras over the years and admittedly, has walked this well trodden path before, learning the lessons along the way...
The trouble with photography is that once you get the 'bug' and become fascinated with the subject you will soon begin to discover how expensive it can be. Perhaps you'll join a camera club or an online forum and start to seek opinions from other enthusiasts, and maybe then you'll start to do what I did and seek a 'better' compromise, within your budget, to suit your needs. I hope my advice now will ultimately save you money. A cheap 'this is all you need' solution isn't necessarily the way ahead (and that goes for lighting kits too), it's better to do some research, find out the limitations of less expensive gear and better understand what you are buying. If budget isn't an issue then you may wish to simply go and buy the best, in the brand of your choice; however, for most people money plays a very important role in gear aquisition.
When buying a DSLR or mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (MILC) one of the first frustrations is attributable to auto-focus performance and this can depend on both the lens and the camera. Find out how well your chosen products will focus and perhaps how many selectable auto-focus points your camera has (I'm not going to go into the technicalities but more focus points will be advantageous to you). You should aim for relatively fast and accurate focussing.
Some cameras will offer in body image stabilisation (IBIS) or perhaps optical stabilisation is built into the lens of your choice (known as VR, OS or OIS)? Both of these features are well worth having in my opinion, if you can't hold the camera steady then at times your images will look blurred. Successfully hand holding a camera (i.e. not using a tripod/monopod or resting/bracing your camera) can be a difficult thing to do in the excitement of capturing the moment. The longer the focal length of your lens the more the camera shake will show. It's much nicer to work free of a tripod if you can, but at times it may be absolutely necessary to use one.
Image quality has always been important to me and camera lenses all perform differently (as do cameras). Generally speaking you get what you pay for, a more expensive lens may be optically superior and a zoom lens by its very nature will be more of a compromise than a fixed focal length 'prime' lens. As you invest in your system try to avoid the 'kit lens' if you can, sometimes they are bundled with your camera as a less expensive way to get started (in fairness some are quite good) and will not necessarily satisfy you with regards to image quality. I am a big fan of both prime and very high quality zoom lenses, I am prepared to pay 'big bucks' for a quality zoom, because I need high quality images.
I wanted to keep this article short, it's easy to go on and on, but these are pointers for the person who has got a genuine interest in starting as a photographer and so an obvious question would be to ask what I use?
I use a mirrorless camera, the Fuji X-T2 with a series of quality Fujinon lenses. My reasons are many but to keep the answer short it's because the camera isn't too bulky and image quality is very good. This particular camera is very versatile and is certainly suitable for today's professional wedding, portrait or even sports photographer. With mirrorless systems lens calibration issues are avoided, and through the electronic viewfinder I can immediately see the effects of any changes I am making, it's a WYSIWYG system.
Unfortunately, you should (must really) do your research, if you invest in a system that doesn't allow you to get high quality images in most kinds of situations then you might eventually become frustrated with your choice of equipment. If you go down the route of 'cheap' or 'this is all you need' then you may end up buying again and sooner than you would like. Investing in lenses is also very expensive, it's better to get your choices right the first time, it may save you money in the long run, but requires careful consideration.
If you don't like carrying camera systems around then think again... Having a camera bag over your shoulder all day may soon lose its appeal. For a pro it comes with the territory, but for an amatuer you may find yourself seldom using your lovely new camera, simply because it's a nuisance to haul about.
I hope this helps, yes you have some research to do, but if you are genuinely interested then you will find the journey you are about to take an education in itself. If you get bored with the idea, or it's too much effort and just want a camera, well, that may prove to be an expensive gamble. I hope this helps!