Amateur or Pro?
Before you purchase a DSLR, you should consider what you’ll be using your camera for: are you simply looking to shoot better everyday shots? Or are you looking to go pro?
Entry-Level DSLR Cameras
If you’re new to the world of digital photography, an entry-level camera might be your best bet. Most models feature preset scene modes just like you’d find on a point and shoot so you can set it to match your environment and capture brag-worthy photos. And when you’re ready, switch to manual mode and really get to know how to control the types of photos you’re shooting. These types of cameras are often less expensive and made of plastic, which makes them lighter and more compact than a pro DSLR. You can still look like a pro – and shoot like one – without the hefty price tag.
If you want to be a professional photographer or you just want total control, a pro-grade DSLR is the ideal companion. These cameras give you advanced features with fewer automatic modes so you’ve got the freedom to play with settings for truly personalized shots.
Pro-grade models are usually a bit heavier than entry-level ones, because they’re built for more rugged situations. Magnesium bodies and weather sealing let you take these cameras out to play in just about any environment to capture professional-looking photos.
No matter which camera model you choose, there are plenty of common features you should consider when shopping for a DSLR.
The sensor in your digital SLR works just like the 35mm film in non-digital SLR cameras. Just like film, sensors are sensitive to light, and once you press the shutter the sensor will convert an optical image to an electronic signal that gets recorded to your memory card.
All DSLRs feature a CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) sensor that’s great at rendering colour information even in low light. They use up very little battery power and are designed to run at extremely high speeds which is great for burst shots and HD video capture.
Digital pictures are made up of thousands of tiny squares called pixels. Many people believe that the more you have, the better your camera will perform, but that’s not necessarily the case. A megapixel (MP) is one million pixels, so if your DSLR can shoot 10MP, it has the power to produce pictures made up of about 10 million pixels which is great for producing gorgeous colour or black-and-white prints up to 13” x 19” in size.
In every camera, you’ll find a dedicated chip that works to convert the raw data from the image sensor into a colour-corrected image. Every DSLR comes equipped with its own brand-specific image processor, but all of them perform the same function.
The LCD screen on your point and shoot camera is the place you’re most likely to compose images, but on a DSLR the LCD screen is typically used to view camera information. Once you’ve snapped a shot, you can review your images complete with details such as resolution, aperture, spot metering, and shutter speed.
Many of today’s models now offer a Live View feature, so you’re able to use the LCD screen rather than your camera’s viewfinder to compose shots. Some DSLRs with this feature also have a screen that you can tilt and swivel to capture those hard-to-get shots.
A lens mount allows you to attach a variety of lenses to your camera. Most lens mounts are designed to be compatible with all the lenses of your camera’s specific brand so you can buy a new camera and keep using those older lenses.
Usually located on the top, a mode dial is used to change the settings on your camera. Select an icon or AUTO setting to let the camera choose all the right settings for your situation, or choose one of the manual settings for greater control.
Program (P) - gives you partial control over the shutter speed and aperture. Aperture (Av or A) - controls the aperture, while the shutter speed and ISO are calculated by the camera. Time Value or Shutter Priority (Tv or S) - controls the shutter speed, while the camera calculates the aperture and ISO settings. Manual (M) - independently controls aperture and shutter speed.
HD Video Recording
A common feature in almost all digital cameras today is the power to record HD videos. With the simple push of a button, you’ll capture footage that looks true to life.