Digital SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras don’t come cheap. If you are not a professional photographer, this camera may become your buy of a lifetime. This makes it important for you to gain some knowledge about digital SLR cameras for buying. The different specs and features make your buying decision difficult.
For hobbyists, a point-and-shoot digital SLR camera is a great investment. However, once you start scanning the market for an ideal one, you will need to compare their specs and features, even between the models of the same brand, such as Nikon D850 vs Nikon D810. This exercise may prove mind-boggling.
Considerations for buying a digital SLR
Let’s see what factors to look for:
The lens is the most important aspect of a camera and most entry- and mid-level digital SLR cameras come with standard lenses, that is, around 18-55mm zoom lenses. Even the quality of glass of the lens is not at par with those of high-end cameras. If you are only a photography enthusiast, these lenses will suffice and the camera will also fit your budget.
#2 Body details
The bodies of all cameras may appear the same, but they are not. The first thing to be considered is the ease of handling. If you buy a camera with a body designed for smaller hands, you may feel cramped handling it. So, hold the camera to see if it is comfortable. Polycarbonate bodies of entry-level cameras make it light, but lack the sturdy feel of high-end cameras.
#3 LCD viewscreen
The LCD viewscreen is where you review your photos/videos. In most cameras, this is fixed to the back of the camera. However, some come with pop out screens that can be rotated, making it convenient for taking photos at unique angles. Some expensive ones may also come with touchscreens, obviating the need for buttons, making it easier to navigate. Also, look at the quality of picture on the LCD viewscreen, before deciding.
#4 Megapixel resolution
The megapixel war that brands indulge in may make you believe this is the most important consideration. But, surprisingly, megapixels are not as important as they are made out to be. According to experts, anything at or above seven megapixels is good enough to provide sharp prints up to 14×11, much beyond what you usually print.
#5 Sensor size
Sensor size is the most important criteria, since it records the image seen through the viewfinder and sends it to the memory card. So, if the sensor size is big, it captures more information and provides clearer pictures, especially when magnified. High-end cameras use ‘full frame’ sensors equivalent in size to 35mm film: 36mm x 24mm. This not only provides maximum clarity, but also better image quality, the reason why digital SLR cameras are expensive. Entry-level digital SLRs have crop sensors of a smaller size. So, go for cameras with biggest sensors that you can afford.
Different brands of digital SLRs mainly offer similar modes, such as Night, Landscape, Portrait, Action, and the like. However, they may offer some modes that are unique to the brand, like Panorama, Scene Intelligent Auto, Guide that explains the use of camera. Although manual mode is the best way to learn photography, these modes can be of help.
Most cameras come with editing features that allow quick editing right on the camera viewscreen, giving you the option of applying filters, making automatic adjustments, changing exposure settings and the like. However, it is better to download the pictures from your camera to your computer and use its photo editing software for editing, which has more editing features.
#8 Video recording
If you want your digital SLR to record videos, check its video capabilities. Go in for entry-level cameras that can record in full HD and have a decent recording frame rate. The ones with higher recording rates provide smoothing out motion. Go for the video recording feature. Even if you don’t require it now, it might come in handy in the future.
Although for most budget remains the sole criteria for buying an entry-level digital SLR, putting in a little more money in buying a better camera will not only give you more satisfying results, but will also prime you for going in for mid-level and even high-end digital SLRs in the future.