Everyone will have a different opinion on what camera equipment is the best for beginners depending on their own experiences. I grew up with Canon so my knowledge will be vastly limited to that brand. One of my main considerations is that Canon does have the biggest market share so that does provide a few knock-on benefits in terms of lens range and compatibility with third party products. Another note is that this is written as a brief recommendation and tips hoping to point you in the right direction.
What cameras should I consider with my budget?
I decided to start off with a moderate range camera and work up towards the Canon 1DX I have now. Depending on which camera you should get depends on your budget and experience. I personally preferred to jump in with the Canon 80D and then skipped to the flagship 1DX once I got comfortable and because of my need for high end video recording.
When looking to buy my cameras I did a bit of research before and found these to be the best for each budget range (all in AUD):
Canon 80D (good beginner): ~$1,250
Canon 5D (this is a go-to for semi-pro/pro photographers): ~$3,400
Canon 1DX (high-end video and photo hybrid): ~$10,000
From memory they all have basic weatherproofing, but you can buy some weather shields if you think they might be used in the rain. That being said, anything water based a proper underwater housing is your only option which can cost up to $6,000.
Handy tips for buying your first camera
Some things to note that will protect you and are handy tips I wish I knew from the start:
Buy second-hand, they depreciate quickly (expect to lose 30% of the value as soon as you walk out of the store). Good news is you can find second-hand ones up to 50% off with very minimal use (there is a counter on each telling you how many photos it has taken, aim for under 100,000).
Good quality lenses are just as important and also as expensive, they are also not compatible with all cameras under the same brand (80D lenses won't work with 1DX).
Unedited camera photos often don't look as polished as smartphone photos so don't be disheartened, good editing software is a must to bring out the best end product - Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Premier Pro, and After Effects are good programs to use.
Keep an eye out for which version of the above camera you are buying. For example the 1DX's two most recent versions are Mark II and Mark III. They appear almost identical but have vastly different performance outcomes. Essentially the later the version the better, but also more costly. Mark II as new goes for around $6,000, while the Mark III will be close to $10,000.
Depending on your needs and budget, you will likely be choosing between a few zoom and 'prime' lenses. Zoom lenses are great for versatility, but if you are mostly going to be doing shooting with a regular predefined distance a prime lens (only one measurement eg. 50mm, 70mm) is better suited as it costs less and also perform better at their specific depth than a zoom lens.
These are just some tips and if I think of any more I'll be sure to add more to this post over time. If you have any questions feel free to reach out via the contact form on the main website.