How to choose your first DSLR Camera?
1. Budget This is usually the best place to start when choosing to buy a DSLR camera. Sticking to a budget is the way to go. It helps you narrow down the cameras that are available to choose from. Entry level cameras are quite cheap when compared to the high end models which are pretty costly.
2. Type of use The purpose of your photography will decide the list of features to choose from when deciding the camera. It is good to make a list of type of photography that you will be doing. Will you be using it for sports photography? Or will it be macro photography? Or maybe landscape photography? Or perhaps, you will just use it for portraits? Making such a list always helps as you can also decide which lenses to buy along with the camera that will aid you in your photographic needs.
3. Megapixels A camera that has at least a 6 MP sensor (What is will be sufficient for most of your needs. A higher resolution most certainly helps in cropping, but that is not required all the time. In a way it is better to have a smaller resolution because it then requires you to compose the shot perfectly while you photograph, which is great way to become a better photographer. That aside, every camera in market today features at least 10 MP sensor (sensor size in camera explained), so the megapixel rating need to be a deciding criterion when buying your camera. It's a known fact that it is more of a marketing gimmick these days.
4. Other features
a. Low light performance How a camera performs in low light is a good indicator of the quality of photographs the camera is capable of producing. The level of noise at high ISO tells us of the camera's ability to photograph in low light. Cameras today have an ISO range (ISO Range in a camera explained) that typically ranges from 100 to 6400, though it may be expandable to 12800 or higher. Generally, DSLR cameras perform way better than digital compact cameras at high ISO, but they are not invulnerable to noise. For my Canon EOS 550D , I rarely shoot at ISO 6400, but at ISO 3200 it produces quite good results. But having a large ISO range helps you those situations when you have absolutely no choice but to shoot handheld in extremely low light.
b. Burst mode This refers to how fast a camera can photograph continuously. Usually, entry level cameras have a burst mode (burst mode explained) rating of 3 fps (frames per second) which is quite sufficient in most of the situations but if you are a sports photographer or an action photographer, it helps to have a higher burst rate to increase your chances of getting that great shot.
c. Autofocus points The more the number of autofocus points, the more control you can exercise over how you control the framing of the shot. I must add here that though it might look fancy to have more number of autofocus points, I usually use the central focus point (which is the only cross-haired one on my 550D). I use the focus and recompose technique while photographing which has worked for me flawlessly for over three years.
d. Body construction/ Weather sealing Entry level cameras have plastic as compared to the Mg-alloy bodies of the higher end cameras. Some also come with weather sealing which is quite useful when photographing outdoor during rains/ dust. Another important point to mention here is that the camera should be the right size for your hand. In other words, it should be comfortable to hold, not too big for your hand nor too small for them. This might seem too trivial information but it does have quite an impact if you choose the wrong camera for your hand to hold.
e. Live view Live view is a great feature. These days it is present on most of the cameras. It helps view the photograph as it would appear, live on the LCD screen which helps in composing the photograph better. It is indispensable when photographing from a very close to ground or from high up, holding the camera out over your head as is the case when doing concert photography.
Well, a personal suggestion from me- If you are a beginner and you are buying a camera with no specific purpose in mind but to learn photography as a hobby, I would recommend you to go for the most basic entry level camera and invest in a good quality prime lens (50 mm for a start) rather than buying a costlier body with a mediocre kit lens. But whatever you decide, make sure you have fun photographing!
Need to buy a DSLR Camera? Go to Amazon.co.uk for best deals
Written by : Ritesh Saini, IIT Mumbai (India)
Related questions and answers
What is Exposure Triangle in Photography?
How a DSLR Camera Superior to Compact Digital Cameras?
How to Photograph Sunrise (and Sunset)?
What are some ways to Shoot Wonderful Photographs?
What does Metering mean in Photography?
Why should you edit your Photographs?
How to Photograph Lightning?
When to use Flash during Photography?
What are the best places to Photograph in Mumbai, India?
How do I take better Street Photographs?
Does Wedding Photographers Charge you Genuinely?
Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )