Everything You Need to Know about a Good DSLR Camera

The right DSLR camera allows you to capture life’s greatest moments in stellar resolution. DSLRs are known for their high-quality images, various manual settings, and interchangeable lenses. Whether you are shopping for a DSLR as a beginner or as a professional, there are several features that you need to consider when selecting the right camera for your needs. In order to help you choose the best camera, we have created a guide to everything you need to know about DSLRs, covering both hardware and software components.

HARDWARE:

Body

There are various factors to consider when choosing your camera’s body. Size and weight are important qualities, especially for those who shoot outdoors or on the go. Being able to test various cameras will give you a sense of whether or not you like how they feel in your hands, and whether you find the interfaces easy to use.

When it comes to choosing the right brand, you may want to consider investing in a leading manufacturer like Canon, Nikon, or Sony. This is because once you start buying accessories and lenses for your camera it may be difficult to find compatible parts if your camera is from a smaller manufacturer. Having to switch brands due to lack of compatible accessories can be rather expensive, which is why you may want to consider choosing a reputable manufacturer from the start.

Image Sensor

The image sensor is the part of your camera that captures light and digitally records your picture. The larger your camera’s sensor is, the more light and information about your image your camera will be able to record. Most DSLRs either come with a full-frame sensor or an APS-C sensor (also known as a crop sensor), both of which are capable of capturing highly detailed images. Depending on your photography needs and budget, one sensor may be a better choice for you. Below, we go into more detail about these sensors and the reasons why you might want to invest in each.

  • Full-frame sensors: Full frame sensors are significantly larger than APS-C sensors, capable of capturing almost twice as much light, and can, therefore, produce higher quality images. These sensors are preferred amongst professional photographers because they are able to create sharper and cleaner photos, especially in low-light settings that require high ISO. These sensors are considered top of the line and are usually found in more expensive cameras. If you are looking for a top quality device in order to shoot professional level photography, you may want to consider investing in a full frame sensor.
  • APS-C sensor: While APS-C sensors may not produce as highly detailed images as full-frame sensors, they still create beautiful images, as their large sizes allow almost 50 percent more light in than the average point and shoot camera. These sensors are often found in more affordable and user-friendly cameras, and can still produce exceptional images. For these reasons, an APS-C sensor is a great choice for beginner or intermediate photographers, as well as those on a budget.

Megapixels

Comparing megapixels across camera brands is difficult because not all megapixels store the same amount of information. Many who are new to photography experience confusion when they encounter expensive DSLR cameras that are listed as having as little as 12 megapixels. Today many phones and point and shoot cameras boast high megapixels as a testament to their high-quality image capabilities. However, a 12 megapixel DSLR will always produce a higher quality image than even a 40 megapixel phone camera. This is because each megapixel on a DSLR camera is larger and stores more information, whereas phone camera megapixels are smaller and are more prone to graininess and noise.

Lenses

When you are shopping for a DSLR camera, you usually have the option of buying the body alone or as part of a kit that comes with a versatile general purpose lens. Buying your camera as part of a kit is a great option for those new to DSLRs, as it equips you with the basic tools to capture high-quality images. Further, since the product is sold as a bundle, you usually save more money buying your camera and lens as part of a kit, rather than separately. On the other hand, if you already own various lenses, you may be better off buying the body only and matching it with a lens you already have. Before buying a new camera body, make sure to check that your lenses are compatible with the new device.

  • Kit lens: Most kits come with a standard 18–55mm zoom lens which is a perfect option for a broad range of shots. This lens is a high quality and practical choice for most everyday photography and can produce stunning results. However, while kit lenses can accomplish most everyday photography needs, there are certain limits to their optic abilities which require the photographer to purchase additional lenses.
  • Telephoto lens: Telephoto lenses offer longer focal lengths and greater magnification capabilities. Common telephoto lenses are 200mm or 300mm. In addition to impressive zoom capabilities, these lenses are also useful when trying to achieve a high quality out of focus, or blurred, background effect.
  • Wide-angle lens: A wide-angle lens offers a short focal length and a wide field of view. These lenses allow you to fit more of a scene into your frame; this is great for landscape photography and can often produce the effect of greater depth of field to your image. From wide to ultra-wide angle lenses, common options include 14mm, 20mm, 24mm, 28mm, and 35mm.
  • Macro: Macro lenses are ideal for shooting up close. Some of these lenses are standard 50mm, but others are actually telephoto lenses.

SOFTWARE:

Exposure Settings

The three major components of exposure are ISO sensitivity, aperture, and shutter speed.

  • Shutter speed: Shutter speed affects how long the mechanism inside your camera is open and allowing light into the sensor. The effect of shutter speed is motion. Low shutter speed causes objects in motion to appear blurry, but can be useful in dark settings in order to let as much light in as possible and clearly capture still images. High shutter speeds, on the other hand, are useful when capturing things that are in motion at high speeds. Because the camera mechanism is only open for a minimal amount of time, it captures the image as a still frame.
  • Aperture: Aperture affects the opening of your camera’s lens itself. Small aperture allows less light into the camera and high aperture allows more light in. However, unlike shutter speed, the effect of aperture adjustment is your image’s depth of field. Aperture is measured by f-stops; the higher the f-stop (for example f/22) the deeper your image’s depth of field will be, therefore producing a clearly focused photograph. Lower aperture settings (such as f/2.8) for example, allow you to focus on a certain point and achieve a blurred background effect.
  • ISO sensitivity: ISO affects how sensitive your image sensor is to light. Using high ISO allows you to capture photos in low lighting conditions, but it can add unwanted noise (or graininess) to your image if you do not use it properly. In general, you should use the lowest possible ISO, while still allowing enough light sensitivity to capture your photo in the conditions you are working with.

When you are choosing a DSLR camera, it can be helpful to test out its various settings, including shutter speed priority, aperture priority, and manual mode.

High Dynamic Range (HDR)

HDR allow your camera to store multiple versions of the same image, using different exposure settings. Once the photo has been taken, your camera will combine the best features of each image version into one stunning photo. This setting is especially helpful for beginner and intermediate photographers.

Photo modes

DSLRs usually offers various photo modes a well, include burst mode which can be great for taking pictures of high actions scenes, time-lapse which allows you to show the progression of time, and self-timer mode.

Scene-recognition

Many DSLRs now offer scene-recognition or face-recognition software, and can automatically adjust the focus and exposure settings to capture the best quality image.

 Wi-Fi

Another popular feature in new DSLRs is Wi-Fi capability, which allows you to connect your camera to your phone or computer for instant photo sharing to your iPhone 7.

 

Now that you have picked out your camera, you should have a look at the essential photography equipment that you should buy.

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