The first step to knowing how to choose a DSLR camera is to persuade a professional photographer to show you the workings of a DSLR. This is important, because a DSLR camera is known first and foremost for its versatility. This refers to taking photographs, and not to whether you can upload your snaps to Facebook using 3G, or shoot HD video.
A DSLR, with the right accessories, will remove just about all limitations to taking a good photograph. You will stop worrying about things like distance, light (for the most part, and even without flash), number of shots per second, or the ever irritating shutter lag. With a DSLR, you can shoot between 3 and 12 shots per second and without any shutter lag: all motion will freeze in frame!
The second step, which is actually part of the first, is to understand how the camera handles. A photographer can tell you what to expect and what to look for. With a telephoto lens, for example, any camera that has a lightweight body will tend to dip forward a little. If you are taking a lot of long distance shots, the uneven distribution of weight could really tell on your hands.
When you are choosing a camera at the store, hold each brand and model that interest you as if you are going to take a photo. Ignore the brand, pay attention to the feel. You are going to do a lot of work with your camera, and it makes sense to find one that you are comfortable with.
We just asked you to ignore the brand, and we stand by our word if you intended to be brand conscious like so many others. The leading brands all perform adequately. A Sony is not better than a Pentax (in spite of Sony’s Carl Zeiss fame) and Canon will not give you better shots than either of them. However, if you are thinking of getting the widest range of accessories possible in future, you should definitely go for the brand that has it; normally, such a brand will also be the one with the highest market shares.
The only exception is when you find a less known brand that has a big brand ‘mount’. Mount refers to whether a lens will fit on a camera. The Cosina C1s 35mm SLR Manual Focus Camera was a Pentax K mount. Many a wannabe photographer on tight budget started with a Cosina in their early years when they had Pentax in mind.
Now we come to the specifics of your DSLR, and we assume you are aiming for an entry level model.
Remember the 400 ASA films that could shoot in low light? Problem was, prints enlarged beyond a certain size (usually A4) would show a little grain. With the average DSLR, higher megapixels tend to increase noise. 12 megapixels will let you print A3 size photographs. You’ll probably never go beyond 8″ x 6″ prints for most of your shots. A large megapixel shot allows room for mistakes, and you can crop the image to your satisfaction. Still, you might want to focus more on framing your snaps in-camera instead of depending upon image editors.
This refers especially to long distance and / or low light shots. In each case you have to hold the camera steady to avoid blurring the image. Traditionally, tripods were the most widely accepted solution. DSLRs offer an optical stabilization feature that lets you see through the optical viewfinder what you are getting after the shot has been stabilized. Canon and Nikon provide lens level stabilization, with additional, expensive lenses. With Pentax and Sony, the camera body stabilizes the shot. This is convenient because you don’t have to switch lenses for optical stabilization.
Auto Focus Motor
Cameras that don’t have inbuilt auto focus motor for lenses are relatively inexpensive, and are great learning tools for photography enthusiasts. If you want to force yourself to learn to focus manually, these could be a good choice. Later on, you can buy separate lenses that have the motor function.
Finally, if you are looking for the additional feature of video recording, there are a few choices in that department. However, choose a model with that option only if it satisfies all that we have discussed so far. A DSLR, we repeat, is a versatile equipment for shooting still shots. When you are wondering about how to choose a DSLR camera, you would do well to bear that in mind and consider keeping a separate device for the film director in you.
Jason Smith is an online manager for Inbound Marketing Company. Jason likes blogging about online strategies that are related to SEO, Content, PPC & Lead generation.