In this article I’m going to give you my pick of the best beginner camera for boudoir if you’re new to photography and looking to get a full-frame camera, or looking to upgrade from the one you have now.
My choice for the best beginner full-frame camera for boudoir in 2021 is the Nikon Z5. I chose this camera for a number of reasons based on features I consider important to shooting boudoir, namely image quality, price, lens options, and more which we’ll get into.
(Things such as frame rate (fps) don’t factor into my evaluation because that’s something geared more towards sports and wildlife shooters than boudoir photographers.)
Features I Consider Important In A Full-Frame Entry Level Camera For Boudoir
(In no particular order)
Lens Options & Cost
Number of card slots
Video (worth a mention)
Before we dive into each of these features it’s important to consider the other camera I compared the Nikon Z5 to in making my choice, Canon’s EOS RP, which is the closest to the Z5 in regard to features and price for competition in this space.
Both good cameras by all accounts, and you really can’t go wrong with either of ‘em, but for my final pick based on my criteria for shooting boudoir, I chose the Z5… and here’s why.
Although the Z5 does not have a BSI (back-side illuminated) sensor which is in their higher level cameras, it does use the Expeed 6 Image processor with its 24.3 megapixels full-frame CMOS sensor.
This is believed to be an upgraded version of the sensor Nikon used in their D750 which produced high-quality images for years for many photographers. It’s not the latest and greatest, but for entry-level beginning boudoir photographers it will more than deliver.
Lens Options & Cost
The Z5 uses Nikon’s new Z mount for its line of mirrorless lenses, but you’re also able to use most of Nikon’s F mount lenses as well with their FTZ adapter, giving you a wide variety of lenses to choose from, including older lenses (which you can buy used, saving you money).
You’ll want to stick to Nikon’s AF-S lenses, though, if you want to maintain auto-focus capability.
Nikkor’s Z Mount 50mm 1.8s Lens
Another big reason I chose the Z5 was because of Nikon’s Z mount 50mm 1.8s lens. Although priced at $500 as of this writing, this lens performs brilliantly. It’s super sharp with no chromatic aberration, and its 1.8 aperture will deliver that shallow depth of field many boudoir photographers love.
In fact I just checked KEH’s website for a used one and they’re sold out. That should tell you something — namely, no one’s getting rid of them! Not sure what the price would be, but I’m sure you could knock that $500 price down even more if you bought it used.
So brand spankin’ new, a Z5 with the Z mount 50mm 1.8s lens will run you about $1500 ($1,000 for the body, $500 for the lens).
Let’s say you find a used Z5 on KEH for $900 in excellent condition, along with a used Z mount 50mm 1.8s lens for around $450 (conservatively). You’re lookin’ at a total of $1350 for a full-frame mirrorless camera with a kick-ass 50mm 1.8 lens.
Not a bad deal.
Your other option would be to get the ZTF adapter ($250!) and go with Nikkor’s standard 50mm 1.8G for a little over $200. You’d be spending the same amount of money but end up with a far inferior lens (granted, the adapter gives you more options, but getting another lens for boudoir can wait for now).
I think the choice is obvious.
With the Z5’s eye detect system on a still subject such as boudoir, you shouldn’t have any problem nailing your focus.
The Z5 also has touch screen auto-focus subject tracking which allows you to touch someone’s face on the LCD screen and the auto-focus will lock on and track what you selected.
The Nikon Z5 has two (UHS-ll) SD card slots which, to me, is a big deal. As a professional it’s always good to have a backup card slot when shooting in case one SD card goes bad.
The second card slot can back up your files as you shoot, saving your session if things go south with one of your SD cards. It’s a feature I consider really important to have as a professional and the Z5 delivers over Canon’s EOS RP which only has one UHS-I card slot.
The difference between UHS-II and UHS-I (which stands for Ultra-High Speed) has to do with data transfer rates. With UHS-I the rate is up to 104 Mb/s (megabytes per second), while with UHS-II is 312 Mb/s.
So, three times faster.
User Friendly-ness (yes, that’s a word… in my world)
Within this category are features that make shooting the camera more comfortable and enjoyable.
The feel of the Nikon Z5 is consistent with it’s other line of Z cameras like the Z6 and Z7, which means it will fit and feel pretty good in your hand… as opposed to the Sony a7iii which has much sharper angles and been knocked for not having the best designed body for comfort and feel.
In all fairness, Canon’s RP, along with all of Canon’s cameras, have always felt really good in my hands.
With regard to the EVF (electronic viewfinder), the Z5 sports a 3.69 million dot EVF which beats Canon’s RP 2.36 million dot EVF. Nikon’s EVF is going to look better to your eye and thus, create a better user experience.
Their LCD is 3.2 inches while Canon’s RP is 3 inches, not a big difference but Nikon’s is slightly larger.
If you like vertical grips (like I do), this is one area that disappoints since there is no vertical grip available for the Z5 🙁
There is, though, for the Canon RP, so if this is a deal breaker, you might want to consider the RP.
Battery life is decent for a mirrorless camera, but you’ll want a spare anyway with any camera you get, DSLR or mirrorless.
You also have the option to charge the battery via USB connection while using it, however, you’ll want to use a “rated PD charger” (power delivery) to ensure enough power.
A “non-rated PD charger” may not have enough juice to charge while using the camera at the same time and you could end up with an empty battery even though it’s “charging” while plugged in via USB connection.
When the Z5 came out in July of 2020 is was $1400, but as I’m writing this review in June of 2021 (almost a year later) the price in now $1000. Probably more along the lines of where it should have been when it debuted, considering they dropped the price $400 within the year.
Canon’s RP on the other hand (debuting in Feb. of 2019), is older than the Nikon with a price tag of $1000 and hasn’t dropped at all… yet.
So both cameras are now the same price, which made my choice for the Z5 easier.
Since video has become a big part of today’s mirrorless cameras, it’s worth mentioning in case you plan on shooting any boudoir type videos for your clients.
The Z5 can shoot 4k at 30fps but there’s going to be a crop factor of 1.7, meaning the image you frame, with say a 50mm lens, will be cropped to (1.7 x 50 = 85) what an 85mm lens’ field of view would be.
And a 35mm lens would be cropped to (1.7 x 35 = 59.9) what roughly a 60mm lens’ field of view would be.
What does this mean?
It means any mid-range lens you have, like a 50mm, will look more like a portrait lens and any wide-angle lens you have, like a 35mm, will look more like a standard mid-range lens.
So, your 4k capabilities will be compromised.
One way to compensate for this 1.7 crop factor would be to get some APS-C lenses or DX lenses with the F mount (in which case you’d need the FTZ lens adapter) or you could elect to shoot in 1080p to get that full-frame coverage.
But… (there’s always a “but”) 1080p mode is only good up to 60fps which means you can’t shoot slow-motion (which requires 120fps), which is something I think you’d want when shooting a boudoir video.
Canon’s RP video rates about the same so there’s no advantage there.
The Z5 is more than sufficient for shooting regular 1080p at 60fps, but if you intend to shoot and produce a lot of video or if slow-motion is a must-have then you’re better off getting a more expensive camera with better video capabilities.
Nikon’s Z5 offers a lot of camera bang for your buck, especially with its dual card slots and superior EVF, so if you’re new to photography and boudoir looking for a pro-grade entry level full-frame camera, I recommend the Nikon Z5.
Thanks for your time!
Founder / Lounge Boudoir
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