How to Choose Your First DSLR Camera

A digital camera can be an expensive acquisition; particularly if you are looking for a high-end device that can be used for hobby/professional photography and will give you several years of hassle free service.

You will find that the market abounds in cameras of a variety of makes and models all boasting of a plethora of features. As a matter of fact, the sheer range of products can make it daunting to buy a camera.

So, here is a look at how you can choose your first DSLR camera that will meet all the requirements that you may have with your current level of expertise while it sets the stage for the purchase of a second camera in the future.

What is your photography style?

Photography style

If there is one word that can be used to describe a DSLR camera, it’s versatile.

These gadgets are available with a myriad of features which can send their price through the roof.

So, the first step when choosing a camera is to pick one that has all the features that you will need for a specific type of photography.

  • If you are interested in landscape/seascape photography, pick a camera which has a decent wide lens angle and perhaps the feature to change the lens as required. You will also need a good tripod, a polariser and neutral density graduated filters to go with it.
  • On the other hand for macrowork, pick a slow camera again with interchangeable lens; in this case, you will need a dedicated macro prime lens.
  • Action photography calls for a fast camera, so look for features such as a faster focus, so the camera can focus better and with superior accuracy and no shutter lag. In cameras that have this feature, there is no delay between pressing the shutter release button and clicking the actual picture; this means that you will be able to capture the action without missing a thing.
  • For sports photography, you will need similar attributes; however, also look for a piece in which there are no delays in between pictures. While many cameras will let you take at least 3 frames per second, some other top of the line models will also have the ability to click a whopping 8 frames per second. These are ideal for sports photography.
  • Night photography including scenic images: For night photography, you will need a camera with less noise in low light, so that you can get usable images.
  • Portraits: Once again, a slow camera will do just fine; also look for an optical view finder that goes through a prism or mirror before getting to the lens. This feature will let you get the framing done perfectly and you will get more details than using regular LCD screen. You will also need interchangeable lens as a 70-90 mm will work fine but a prime will give you spectacular picture quality.
  • You will also need to remember that when purchasing a camera, the auxiliaries such as lighting kits, tripod, reflectors, different types of lenses etc will also need to be added to your budget.

Make a list of requirements

Question Mark
Make a list of requirements before you head out to the store to check the lot of DSLR cameras that they stock.

Ensure that you do not visit a store with several pushy salesmen compelling you to buy a specific camera.

As a matter of fact, a small store that lets you thoroughly test the various models will be your best bet.

Choosing the brand

Unless you want to show your camera off to your friends and that is the only real purpose that it’s going to serve, you should not be too worried about the brand that you buy.

Walk into the store armed with a list of the features that you need and ask the sales people to show you the crop of latest gadgets that have all the attributes you need. Alternatively, you might want to do your homework online and check out various cameras that suit your requirement before heading to the store.

Go for comfort

Comfort with the gadget should be an extremely important consideration, how the gadget sits in your hand and how easily you can reach the controls should be the decisive factors. The top makers of DSLR cameras include Canon, Olympus, Nikon, Sony, Pentax and Sigma.

You will find that no one brand is better than the other. As a matter of fact, if you look at two cameras of the same range, there will be a striking similarity in their features regardless of the brand.

Make a long term investment
Camera bag
With a compact, it is normal to flip from brand to brand every two years. However, with a DSLR, you are making an investment not only in the camera but the entire ecosystem of goodies such as lenses, accessories, body, third party licenses and more.

So, the last think you should be doing is trying to jump ship every few months and shift brands because you will be wasting a lot of money that way. Most budding photographers are often in a quandary when it comes to deciding between a Canon and Nikon; after all they are the strongest brands in the market.

If you are wondering about why you should be concerned with the brand strength, it’s because you will have heavily invested in the camera and all the bells and whistles.

So, while there will not be a significant difference in the features of the camera, it is recommended that you stick with a company that is going to be around in the future. Given that factor, the three likely contenders are of course Canon, Nikon and Sony coming in at a distant third because you will not be able to find everything that you need from them.

Finally the features in words

With all the above aspects taken care of, look for the following basic features in a camera:

  • Resolution: The bigger the better but do not forget to look at the sensor size for better quality images
  • Movie Mode: Only a few of the latest breed of gadgets in the category boast of the ‘movie mode’
  • Optical stabilization: This will help you to shoot without a tripod and still get decent quality images.
  • Other features: Some other photography specific features include; light metering, focus points, auto focus etc.

Picking the right DSLR camera will take patience and possibly several visits to the store.

Finally, when you are buying a new camera, you might feel that you should delay the purchase as there is a new camera model coming in the next few months. There is always a temptation to wait for the next better release.

However, the best camera is the one that you are carrying with you. This means to say that by waiting for the next model, you might get some new features, but you have probably missed many valuable photo shooting opportunities.

What’s next

In the next step, let’s start your digital SLR research to see what are the popular DSLR options available and how the features compare to each other.

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