Stepping up from a point and shoot camera or a smart phone camera and moving on to a digital SLR camera can be quite a huge step. With the various models out there, it can be confusing to decide which camera is good for you, which features are best for your purpose, and which price range is the most comfortable or reasonable for you. Here’s what you need to look for in a DSLR camera when you’re about to make that hefty purchase for an expensive hobby or a more professional approach to photography.
Reasons to Upgrade
First off, we’ll cover some of the basic reasons why you would want to upgrade from a simple point and shoot camera to a DSLR. If you’re still on the fence about upgrading, then it might be wise to give it some serious thought. Buying a DSLR doesn’t mean that you only have to buy it once and then use stock equipment. There will be upgrades and other factors to consider when you have it.
- Image Quality – DSLRs have bigger image sensors that capture bigger pixel sizes. They also have shutter speed faster than point and shoot cameras; this results in less “grainy” pictures. In addition, DSLRs come with built-in features that help reduce the noise when processing JPG images.
- Adaptability – since you can change the lens on a DSLR camera, it gives you a lot of options for photography and other media. For example, a DSLR can be fitted with various lenses which range from long focal lengths (perfect for zooming) or wide angle lenses (perfect for landscapes) which depend on your subject and your budget. Also, there are a lot of accessories that can be fitted in a DSLR camera like flashes, filters, tripods, etc so a DSL can be suited for many different situations.
- Retaining Value – a DSLR will hold its value longer than a point and shoot. This is because DSLR models do not get updated quite as often as a point and shoot models (which can be updated twice a year at times). Earlier we talked about DSLR lenses and how they can be custom-made or fitted depending on your shooting conditions. If you choose to upgrade later to a higher end DSLR, you can still use the same expensive lens (as long as you stick with your brand). This means that the investment you made during the years will not be wasted and you won’t have to buy a new set of accessories each time you upgrade.
- Manual Controls – one of the main differences between a point and shoot and a DSLR is the use of manual mode. For DSLRs, they are designed to give the photographer absolute control over every single feature. While DSLRs are already equipped with automatic modes, the camera manufacturer still made the manual controls more customizable.
What You’ll Use it for
If you’re still decided on upgrading to a DSLR camera, then you need to prepare a lot of things. First things first, you need to decide on the main reason why you will buy it in the first place. There could be a lot of reasons why you need one. It could be for a simple hobby, or you might want to go professional in terms of photography. Whatever the reason may be, it will surely affect the camera model and the accessories you buy later on, so deciding it early on is the first step.
Determine your Budget
You have to remember that it’s not just about the camera body – lenses and accessories are equally important. When buying a camera, take into consideration the budget for additional batteries, memory cards, filters, flash, tripod, and camera protection such as bags and cases. There are many ‘kits’ available that already include body + lenses + tripod so you might want to look into this option as well.
When you’re buying a DSLR, try to check its megapixels. These days cameras (including point and shoot) have so many mega pixels. Remember that anything above 10mp produces fantastic results. At this point, requirements would also depend on your individual needs. If you want to create large professional prints, then high resolution is necessary. For small images to upload to social media sites, then megapixels are not that important.
Check the Size and Weight
This factor is also dependent on your usage. For example, will you be running around shooting wildlife or travelling a lot with it? If you’re always on the move, then a small and light model would be best for you. On the other hand, if you take pictures of events or architecture then a heavier, well-built model is suitable for your needs.
Even if your target is taking pictures, you never know when you might use it. In addition, a lot of DSLRs also come with HD video function, so it won’t go to waste if you are in a situation wherein video is much better. In fact, a lot of people shoot high-end commercial videos with DSLRs so you would want to keep that option available on your camera.
Before settling on a single DSLR, try to check if that maker’s lens is also compatible with another type of DSLR. For example, you might be able to use a Nikon lens on a Canon camera by simply using an adapter. This helps widen your choice and you can also make use of your old lenses even when you upgrade to a newer model (even if it’s a different brand or maker).
Speaking of compatibility, check also if other accessories are compatible with other maker’s accessories. These gear and accessories include batteries, grips, chargers, and the like. This will help you save money in the long run and it could also help you make your decision. Using your previous gear on your new DSLR will help reduce costs and save you having to buy all new gear again.
Check the Date
One of the things you need to check in a DSLR camera is the date when it was released. If it was sold in the market a few years ago, then there’s a good chance that it will be upgraded soon. You would want to avoid buying a camera that will be considered obsolete soon. Yes, there will be firmware updates and the like, but unless you are sure about it then stick with buying something much newer and with more recent features.
Buying a DSLR camera can be a very expensive investment. If you are not even sure what to look for in a DSLR camera, you could be wasting your money for a very heavy paperweight. Think of a DSLR as an investment wherein you can sell it again in the future, or you could possibly make money from it.