Thinking about buying your first DSLR camera? Maybe you’ve been thinking of upgrading from your point-and-shoot, or you want to take better photos on vacation. Whatever the reason, a DSLR camera is an excellent choice for beginners. With their ability to shoot in low light, a shallow depth of field, and good resolution for printing, DSLRs are widely considered the best cameras for photographers who want to hone their skills. They are also much cheaper than most professional cameras and offer great value for money. But there are so many options out there: Which brand should you choose? How many megapixels do you need? What features are useful? This article covers everything that you should know before buying your first DSLR camera.
What is a DSLR Camera?
A DSLR Camera stands for Digital Single-Lens Reflex Camera. It’s the most common type of camera available today, consisting of a camera body, a lens, and an image sensor. The camera body contains the shutter, mirror, and pentaprism - the pentaprism is what allows you to view your image through the viewfinder. The sensor captures light and turns it into digital information. The lens focuses light onto the sensor and changes the field of view. The advantages of a DSLR camera are great image quality, excellent control over your shot, extreme versatility, and high potential to be upgraded as your skills improve. You can adjust the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO to get the best shot - there’s no magical programmed setting that gives you the image you want.
Basics to know before buying a DSLR
Image Resolution: The more megapixels the camera has, the higher the image resolution will be. If you’re planning to print your photos, then you’ll want a camera with a high resolution. Most beginners shoot with about 24 megapixels.
Image sensor: The image sensor is the part of the camera responsible for converting light into an image. The bigger the sensor, the more light it can collect, resulting in a brighter, more detailed image. Most modern DSLR cameras boast sensors between APS-C and Full Frame, with APS-C being the most common for beginners.
Autofocus points: DSLR cameras let you manually focus, but most have an autofocus feature that will help you get great shots. The amount of autofocus points varies from camera to camera, but more points mean an easier time getting the right focus.
Brand: There have been studies that show the difference between cameras from different brands is negligible. Your choice comes down to personal preference: Do you prefer Canon or Nikon?
Weight: You’ll be carrying your DSLR camera everywhere, so it better be comfortable in your hands. There’s a big difference between a light DSLR and a heavy one, so keep this in mind when you’re shopping for one.
Megapixels: What They Mean and How They Matter
When buying a DSLR camera, you’ll notice that most manufacturers boast about their megapixel count. But what does that mean? The megapixel count is the number of pixels that are collected by the camera’s image sensor. It’s used to determine the resolution of your image - the higher the megapixel count, the larger your image will be. Megapixels are important if you plan on printing and enlarging your photos. But if you are going to post them online, you don’t need an insanely high megapixel count. Most social media sites and photo-sharing websites let you upload images at a lower resolution.
The Importance of Shutter Speed and Aperture
These two settings are essential for capturing the shot you want. They control the amount of light that enters the camera and allows you to create the desired effect. The aperture is the hole inside the lens that allows light to pass through. It’s like the pupil in your eye: The smaller it is, the less light it lets in. The aperture setting is measured in f-stops and you can control it on most DSLRs. Shutter Speed is how long the shutter is open. It’s the amount of time that light is allowed to pass through the aperture and hit the sensor inside the camera. Shutter speed is measured in seconds and can have a huge impact on your image. The longer the shutter speed, the longer the image is exposed to light and the brighter it will be. The shorter the shutter speed, the less light that is allowed to enter the camera and the darker the image will be. Aperture and shutter speed work together to create the desired effect. A small aperture and long shutter speed will result in a blurred water shot like this one, whereas a wide aperture and short shutter speed will create a crisp landscape photo.
Requisite DSLR Features for Beginners
Full-frame sensor: This is the best option for DSLR cameras. Full-frame cameras are bigger and collect more light than APS-C bodies. And since you’re buying a DSLR camera for better image quality, this is a must-have feature.
External Mic: If you’re going to be recording videos with your DSLR, you’ll want an external mic to get better sound quality. You can buy an external mic that clips onto your camera or gets connected to the headphone jack.
Better image stabilization: If you’re doing long exposures or shooting in low light, you’ll want a camera that has better image stabilization. Longer exposures are tricky, but with a better image stabilization system, you can get great shots even in low light.
Decide on your budget
This is perhaps the most important part of buying a DSLR camera. The average DSLR camera costs anywhere between $500 and $2000 or more. Keep in mind that the price is directly related to the features of the camera: The more expensive the camera, the better the features will be. If you have a limited budget, then it’s better to buy a lower-end camera with fewer features than to buy a higher-end camera that you can’t afford. If you’re looking to upgrade from a point-and-shoot, then you don’t need the best camera on the market - you just need something better than what you’re currently using. If you’re a beginner, you don’t need a camera with a million features: A Full-frame sensor, better image stabilization, and an external mic are the only three features that you need. It’s not worth spending a fortune just because a camera has more features.
What DSLR features should you look for?
Full-frame Sensor: This is the most important feature: A camera with a full-frame sensor will give you better image quality. An APS-C sensor is okay, but it’s not as good as a full-frame sensor.
External Mic: A camera with an external mic jack will let you plug in a better mic and record better audio. This is a must-have feature if you’re going to be recording videos with your DSLR.
How to choose the right DSLR?
Brand: There’s no denying that Canon and Nikon are the best brands out there and that they make great cameras. However, other brands like Sony, Fujifilm, and Panasonic have great cameras too.
Weight: Make sure that the camera is comfortable in your hands: If it’s too light, it probably doesn’t have enough features. If it’s too heavy, it’s probably a more advanced model. When you’re ready to buy your first DSLR camera, remember that you don’t need to break the bank. A mid-range DSLR with a full-frame sensor and better image stabilization will do the trick. More importantly, remember that a DSLR camera is just a tool and the images are created by you. With practice, you can create truly stunning photographs with almost any camera.