2 May 2013 by Permi Krishna
There are many reasons why you may want to upgrade to a digital SLR (DSLR) camera. In comparison to a point-and-shoot camera, it can offer (a) quick focus and hardly any shutter lag (the time between pressing the shutter button and the camera capturing the picture) (b) a more accurate viewfinder (c) interchangeable lens (d) much better image quality in low light situations. Here are factors to consider when you plan to buy a good digital SLR for the first time.
Autofocus and continuous shooting
We would advise first-time buyers to opt for a D-SLRs that can shoot at least 3 frames per second (known as the camera's 'continuous shooting' performance; measured in frames/second). If your intention is nature or sports shooting, you will definitely want to invest in one that has a speed of more than 5 frames per second.
You will have to simultaneously consider the camera's autofocus system. One with fewer autofocus points can slow down the shooting performance. You will find digital SLRs equipped with anywhere from 5 to up to 51 autofocus (AF) points. If you can afford it, and you are keen on mastering different photography techniques, the Nikon D7000 with its 39 AF points is an excellent choice. If not, the Nikon D90 or D3200- with their 11 AF point system - should suffice.
Digital SLRs typically have bigger dimensions, though you will find a size variation between various DSLRs as well. Depending on what you plan to use the camera for, you can zero in on the right size. For instance, if you don't have a problem hauling your weighty camera and accessories along on your photography adventures, invest in a bigger-sized model like the D90. If you prefer not to, you can go for a smaller, lighter DSLR on travels and treks, like the popular entry-level Canon t2i/550d or the Nikon D3100.
Photographers generally have a preference for one or more styles of photography. You may have an interest in macro photography (taking close-up pictures of small objects), architectural photography, low-light photography or portrait photography, to name just a few. Your purpose for using the DSLR - based on the photography style, frequency of use and interest in taking amateur or professional-grade pictures - will go into deciding the kind of digital SLR and accessories you buy. Here are some suggestions:
Macro photography: Nikon D600, Nikon D5200, Canon EOS 650D
Portrait photography: Nikon D5200, Canon EOS 650D
Low-light photography: Sony SLT-A37, Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Resolution and Video Recording
Megapixel rating is one of the most-enquired features of a camera during purchase. As far as DSLRs go, they are available in a large range of megapixel ratings. For small-sized prints that you will be sharing with friends, you don't need many megapixels but they are crucial to ensure better image quality if you plan on printing enlargements. If you want very high resolution, you can opt for Nikon's D800 and D800E, which have a 36.3 megapixel full-frame resolution.
Video recording has become a standard feature of modern-day digital SLRs. When looking for the best DSLRs in the market, emphasize on those that autofocus even while recording. Also, if you plan to use the video function very often, a microphone input jack is important.
The best digital SLR cameras strike a good balance between performance and price.
From the more affordable DSLRs to their top-of-the-line, feature-rich counterparts, the choice in quite extensive, if you go only by price. Some of the cheaper options include Canon EOS 60D and Nikon D3100.
You may already have a budget in place, so it makes sense to refine your search by reviewing only those cameras that fit in your price range. Do keep in mind that there are extra costs of owning a DSLR, such as for (a) batteries (b) memory cards (c) lenses (d) filters (e) a camera bag.
As a first-time DSLR user, you may not exactly need to buy several lenses. However, you may want to invest in the following (a) a telezoom to capture distant shots (b) Normal-angle prime lens for low-light scenarios.
Some of the top DSLR camera brands include Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax and Olympus.