What Does Camera Body Only Mean?

If you’ve been shopping around for a new camera then I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of new terminology and phrases being used on vendor websites.

When I was shopping for my first DSLR camera I wasn’t quite clued up as to what all these fancy words and phrases meant. One thing that I really wasn’t sure about is what exactly a camera body was, and why some vendors offer the camera body only.

Well, I’ve purchased quite a few cameras in my career, and I’m in a great position to answer this question.

Join me as I take a look.

What Does Camera Body Only Mean? Camera body only means that you are buying the camera body only and that other items such as lenses will have to be purchased separately. It is important to note that you can’t use the camera body without a lens to take photos, so you need to budget for a lens as well or you need to already own a lens that you can use with the camera.

Entry-level cameras are often sold in kit form with a lens (or two), and a few accessories. This is to cater to those who are just starting out and who do not already have a collection of lenses. While it is a great way to get you started, these included lenses are typically not the best that you can get.

If you look at all the camera bodies on offer, you will notice that many of them are medium to high-end cameras. These cameras are often purchased by experienced photographers who already own a lens or two that they can use with those specific cameras.

You can also say that buying the camera body only is less expensive because you don’t buy a lens as well, and lenses can be very expensive. It is, therefore, a great option for those who want to save money by buying only the camera that they need without having to pay for a lens that they might not have use for.

Things To Keep In Mind When Buying A Camera Body Only

The first thing to think of when buying a camera body is whether or not you have a lens that you can use together with the camera. As already discussed, you won’t be getting a lens when buying a camera body only, and if you don’t already have a lens, you will need to purchase one in order to use your camera.

The second thing to keep in mind is that the lens that you currently own needs to fit on the camera body. Camera lenses are not universally compatible, so if you’re buying a Canon camera body then you need to already own a lens that can be mounted on a Canon camera. If you don’t, then you need to purchase a lens that can be mounted on your camera, or, you might need to consider another camera brand.

If you have a collection of Nikon lenses, then it just makes more sense to opt for a Nikon camera body. Otherwise, if you get a Canon camera, and you only own Nikon lenses, then you won’t be able to use your Canon camera until you get a lens for it.

While you don’t get a lens when purchasing a camera body, you still get accessories that are essential in keeping the camera running. This typically includes a battery and a charger, a body cap, and sometimes even a camera strap. And, if you’re lucky, a handy camera bag as well.

Remember to get an SD card or two as well because they are almost never included when buying a camera body, or a camera kit for that matter.

Can I Use A DSLR Camera Without A Lens?

Yes, you can use a DSLR camera without a lens but this is limited to certain models only. For most DSLR cameras though, you will only be able to browse the settings menu when there is no lens attached and you won’t be able to take any photos. Even if the camera is capable to take photos without a lens, it is not recommended to do so because this exposes the camera sensor to direct light and this can have an effect on its longevity.


I hope you have a better understanding of what camera body only means. A camera body that is sold without a lens is often geared for experienced photographers who already own lenses that they can use with the camera.

Many photographers build up a collection of lenses over the years that they like to use, so when they need to upgrade their cameras, they are looking at upgrading the camera body only.

This is why vendors have camera bodies on offer, and it makes it a more viable and cost-effective way to upgrade your camera.