Digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras continue to produce the best photographs today, even with contenders like mirrorless and mobile cameras on the rise. Casual and professional photographers alike benefit from the camera’s technology, including advanced sensors, full customizability, and superior low-light capabilities. However, choosing which DSLR to buy can be a little overwhelming. Even with trusted brands like Canon dominating nearly half the global market share, consumers are spoiled for choice with other quality brands like Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, and Panasonic providing more options for consumers.
With all the different models and new features on the market, choosing a camera can be a confusing ordeal. Fortunately, there are several key aspects that you can look for when choosing a DSLR without getting lost in the details.
It’s essential to start with choosing the type of photography you want to do. By answering this question first, it will become much easier to decide on the features and accessories you need. Will you be taking pictures of everyday objects and scenes, or is it more for travel? Some people may be looking to practice macro photography or capturing stills in low-light.
Be practical with your photography goals, and do some initial research to figure out what specific functions your camera should have to help you achieve the best possible photos. These considerations will narrow down your selection significantly and lead you to the right DSLR.
DSLRs vary widely in price, with older entry-level models as affordable as $200-$300 and professional gear costing tens of thousands of dollars. Set a budget for the camera and its accessories, including lenses, bags, memory cards, batteries, and others, before starting your search.
Consider your selected purpose or type of photography here, as this will affect the price range significantly. For instance, specialized telephoto lenses will be necessary for wildlife photography, while more affordable macro lenses will work well for portraits or commercial photography. The genre of photography you choose to focus on will often dictate this price range, so do your research.
Portability is another important consideration, especially when taking photos in more dynamic situations. While DSLRs are larger in general compared to more compact point-and-shoot models, you can choose cameras to fit the level of portability your photography requires.
For instance, sleeker models with less processing power are better suited for travel photography. These models are continuously being improved, with new and powerful DSLRs coming out in more compact sizes. This is thanks to the improved technology behind several of the components, one of which is the continually evolving design and manufacturing process of the printed circuit boards (PCBs). Engineers and designers are coming up with more ways to incorporate more complex components into denser boards, which means greater functionality, improved capacity, and speed despite smaller PCB sizes. This is especially evident in models like the Nikon D500, which comes in a slim DX-format body and is excellent for sports or wildlife shots. However, if you’re looking to take travel photos, the Canon EOS-M50 Mark II is a better compact option.
Lastly, choose your DSLR based on the sensor size, which affects picture quality and exposure flexibility significantly. Sensors with larger photosites will capture more light and give your picture a greater dynamic range, which is more noticeable when taking pictures in dim, bright, or high-contrast conditions.
Photographers who take pictures in these types of environments should opt for larger sensor sizes to prevent blown-out highlights and blocked-up shadows with plenty of noise. To take photographs that accurately resemble what you see in the viewfinder or LCD, opt for a 36mm by 24mm full-frame sensor. However, photographers who take photos in more favorable lighting conditions can choose the APS-H crop sensors, which combine large sensors with a moderate pixel count and is great for interchangeable camera lenses.
Purchasing a DSLR is an exciting next step in a photographer’s journey, and like any tool of the trade, getting the right one for your specific needs will yield the best results. This is especially true for aspiring photography entrepreneurs, who will find it best to play their strengths and avoid their weaknesses when starting with photography. Finding the right camera by considering the aspects listed above will allow you to transition from beginner to budding professional in no time.