What Is the Camera Body Only?

Learn How to Purchase a Camera Body Only

camera body only
When you see a camera that's for sale as the camera body only, it means the DSLR is sold without lenses, such as the Nikon D810 pictured here. Nikon
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A camera body is the primary part of the digital camera, which contains the controls, the LCD, the internal image sensor, and the associated circuitry ... basically, it contains all of the components needed to record the photograph. It is also the part of the camera that you'll hold when using the camera. You'll sometimes see a camera that's available for purchase that contains the camera body only, which can be a little confusing.

Continue reading to answer the question: What is the camera body only?

When you see a camera for sale with the camera body only, it is referring to the portion of the camera without a lens attached. You sometimes can purchase a camera a little cheaper if it is the camera body only. The camera body, usually roughly in the shape of a rectangle, sometimes contains a built-in lens (such as with beginner-level, point, and shoot or fixed lens cameras). This type of camera cannot be purchased as the camera body only because the lens is built into the camera body, 

But with an advanced camera body (such as with a digital SLR camera, or DSLR, or a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, or ILC), the lenses can be removed from the camera body. This means you can purchase the camera body alone and you can purchase interchangeable lenses separately. The camera purchasing options you're likely to encounter with a DSLR or mirrorless ILC are explained below.

Camera body only

This type of purchase typically refers to an opportunity to purchase only the camera body with no lenses included. It's usually only offered with a DSLR camera, although some mirrorless interchangeable lens models might be offered this way. You can save some money with this type of purchase, especially if you already own some interchangeable lenses that will fit the camera body.

This may happen if you already owned an older Canon or Nikon DSLR camera, and you upgrade to a new camera body. Your older Canon or Nikon DSLR lenses should work with the new camera body.

Camera with kit lenses

A digital camera body with a kit lens means that the manufacturer has included a basic lens with its camera. This configuration will allow you to start using your DSLR or mirrorless ILC immediately. If you don't own any lenses that are compatible with the advanced camera that you want to purchase, buying the camera in this configuration will cost you a little more, but since you cannot use the camera body only without a lens, this is a smart way to purchase a new advanced camera.

Camera with multiple lenses

You may find some camera makers who create a configuration with a camera body that includes multiple lenses. This could be a new DSLR with two kit lenses, for example. However, the more common camera body with multiple lens configurations is a used DSLR that has a few different lenses included with it by the previous owner. This configuration can cost quite a bit of money, so not a lot of advanced photographers will choose it unless they're picking up a significant bargain. It might be better to hold off buying a large number of lenses for your DSLR camera body only until you use the camera with the kit lens for a few weeks, allowing you to figure out exactly which kind of other lenses you need to purchase to be able to shoot the types of photographs you want.

There's no point in spending money on a large number of lenses that you'll never put to use.

Although different lenses are important to help you achieve the various types of photographs you may want to record, the camera body holds the key to the enjoyment you'll have in photography. Finding the right camera body will allow you to find the image quality and camera operational speed that will help you enjoy photography is the key to picking the right camera body for your needs!