The truth is that, while most point-and-shoot cameras are great for things like family vacations and daily activities, a digital SLR is the best camera for you if you’re thinking about taking your photography to the next level. These cameras are perfect for the amateur photographer who wants to improve the quality of their pictures, and they’re practically the only option for those who are considering getting into professional photography, especially if they’re getting into wedding photography and other kinds of portraiture.
You’ve made the decision to upgrade your camera to a digital SLR, and that’s a good start. But, where do you go from here? What kind of camera should you buy? How do you go about choosing the right camera for you?
The answers to these questions are going to be based upon a variety of factors that may be very important to you, personally. Here are a few things to consider before making your first digital SLR purchase.
Consider the Brand
When talking with a majority of amateur and professional photographers, there’s a good chance that you’re going to hear about a variety of camera brands. And you might even find that there’s a little bit of a controversy. Think MAC vs. PC, or iPhone vs. Android. If you get a Canon enthusiast battling it out with a dedicated Nikon user, get ready for some fireworks. Photographers are fiercely loyal to their brands, and will defend them at all costs.
There are approximately five major digital SLR manufacturers, including Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax, and Fuji. In terms of camera quality, all of these manufacturers produce amazing digital SLR cameras. Plus, a majority of them have been around for quite some time. Sony got into the business of digital SLR cameras when they purchased Minolta, so they have quite a bit of history. And each and every one of them can list an impressive resume of achievements, awards, and innovations.
Ultimately, when you consider the brand, you’re considering your own loyalty and preferences. Have you traditionally bought point-and-shoot cameras from any of these brands? If so, you may want to purchase a digital SLR of the same brand.
Think About the Camera Ecosystem
What do I mean by a camera ecosystem? A camera ecosystem involves everything that is available within the brand. When you make the move to a digital SLR, you’re going to face a multitude of options when it comes to camera bodies, lenses, and accessories, as well as online support systems, seminars, tutorials, and literature.
Take some time and browse the availability of these kinds of options. You may also want to look at the prices. Price is a huge selling point for almost every digital SLR beginner. Do you want to start out small without a lot of investment? Consider purchasing the bare minimum: a camera body and a couple of lenses with a quality padded bag. If you want to go all out, check out the camera bundles offered by the various manufacturers and compare them to see which will give you the most bang for your buck.
Digital SLR Camera Features
First and foremost, when it comes to features, I should say that the camera body is not nearly as important as the lenses that you will eventually purchase to go with it. If you are a beginner, the multitude of features and options available on the most high-end of camera bodies will likely end up confusing you more than anything. Plus, the high-end camera bodies can be astronomically expensive and may not be the most appropriate for your budget as a beginner. Save your money for quality lenses that will impact the quality of your photos more than any other feature.
Other features that you will want to think about include resolution and optical stabilization. When it comes to mega pixels, bigger is always better… or so you thought. While greater resolution is a good thing, when it comes to a digital SLR, image quality depends most on the sensor size. With what’s currently available in terms of technology, most users will do just fine with 16 Mp.
Optical stabilization can also be very important, especially when shooting without a tripod. Nearly all digital SLR cameras have some sort of stabilization feature. A crucial thing to pay attention to is where the optical stabilization feature is located. Some are featured on only the lens, while others are featured on the camera body. This is vital because lenses with the optical stabilization feature can be much more expensive than lenses without it.