10 Things You Must Know Before Buying a DSLR Camera

By soumitra, Gaea News Network
Saturday, February 28, 2009

a-nikon-af-s-70-200mm-lensDSLR cameras are the way to go these days. Picture tells a thousand words and seriously a snap taken from your camera tells more than that to you. But a DSLR Camera does not cost you just a few pennies rather it is a big leap before you buy one. So you must do some research work before you buy a digital camera that serves your needs and suits your purpose. Here is something that might assist you for improving your knowledge.

The Basic Technology



Pic Source : Wikipedia

Cross-section view of SLR system.

1 - 4-element lens
2 - Reflex mirror
3 - Focal-plane shutter
4 - Sensor
5 - Matte focusing screen
6 - Condenser lens
7 - Pentaprism
8 - Eyepiece

A digital single-lens reflex camera (digital SLR or DSLR) is a digital camera that uses a mechanical mirror system and pentaprism to direct light from the lens to an optical viewfinder on the back of the camera. So, you can see exactly the picture that you will get after releasing the shutter.

The Main Concerns


1. Be prepared for Future Investments


To be a true photographer you have to buy additional lenses separately for not only good but great pictures. Other costs are also there such as a camera bag, some memory cards, a camera tripod, and maybe even a camera cleaning kit. Then you may need Adobe Lightroom to help you manage and process your growing photo collection. Then you will want to have more lenses, lens filters, better camera bag, battery grip, external flash, more software, external hard drive, a new printer too, monitor calibrator, wacom tablet and another computer too! And after that you will see that your old DSLR camera is not sufficient enough to suit your needs. LOL, this is going to be more costlier hobby than you had imagined.

2. The Lenses


The DSLRs come with interchangeable lens mount on which various lenses can be used. The main cost for the camera is for the lenses. The kit lenses that come with the camera only serve limited functionality. The focal length of most kit lenses are ranged from 17mm~80mm to 17mm~100mm with F3.5 ~ F5.6 or F6.3. You can’t shoot macro photos (i.e. the close distance photos) that you can with many compact cameras or you can’t shoot very high depth photos. Generally Nikon’s kit lenses are little bit better than those of Canon’s.

3. Image Stabilization

Image Stabilization is one of the important features of a Good Camera. This compensates for the camera hand shake and removes the tendency of blur when the camera shakes during the shutter release. There are mainly two types of Image Stabilization.

  • One is built into the lenses and thus called optical image stabilization.
  • The other technology is built into the body of the camera via digital technology.

The former one is costlier than the later. And also when buying an additional lense in case of optical cameras you have to make sure that the new lense is also shake-free. So, the cost for camera increase more. Better, look for digital image stabilization in ca,era body. This will offer your value for money.

4. Total Cost of Ownership


Before buying you should check that the price does include the cost of other accessories such the memory card, battery and cables. In case you need some software, it comes with the camera packaging. Some manufacturers does not include these things in the package and so their price tag looks cheap thou it is not actually.

5. Megapixel


Pixel stands for Picture element. This is the smallest unit of a picture. In physical meaning it represents a single colored dot. Many dots together make a whole picture.

Suppose a picture has 1632 pixels horizontally and 1224 pixels vertically. Then the resolution of the picture is 1632X1224 or 1997568 pixels or nearly 2.0 Megapixel. A 2.0 MP Picture is good for normal postcard size or 4X6  inches printing with litle or no grains visible. Similarly a 8.0 MP Picture is suitable for 8 X 12 size printing. So depending on what size you’ll print your pictures, make decision how much megapixel you need in your camera. If you need to print your pictures in large poster size consider higher MP cameras. Otherwise 8 MP is enough - if you want my advice.

6. Sensor Size

275px-sensorsizessvgPic Source : Wikipedia

Another important thing when to buy a DSLR is the sensor size of the camera apart from Megapixel of the camera sensor. The higher the size of the image sensor, the higher will be the quality of the pictures and the higher will be the price tag. The largest sensors are called full frame sensors which are of the same size of a 35mm film. Normally, the DSLRs use a smaller sensor which is about 40% of the full frame sensor. Other common sizes are Four Thirds sensor at 26% of the full frame, APS-H sensors at around 61% of full frame.

7. ISO Rating of Sensor

ISO Rating of a sensor denotes the light sensitivity of a sensor. A normal camera has 800 or 1600 ISO Rating. A good camera may have 3200 ISO Rating. With higher ISO Rating you will be able to take pictures in low light conditions without using a flash. Also higher ISO Rating also allows you take highly moving pictures with high shutter speed. But always keep in mind that higher ISO shooting results in noisy pictures. Use lowest ISO Setting for noise free pictures but keep in reserve the high ISO Rating if you need to shoot in dark where flash will not be available.

8. Weight

If you travel a lot with your camera you should know that a DSLR camera can be really heavy to make photography a real hard work. The weight of a normal DSLR camera may be 1kg, and with the lenses on it may be anywhere around 2-3-4 kgs! And if have additional lenses you need to carry a lot more from 5 -10 kgs at least. And if want to shoot with the tripods instead….. you know what i am talking about!

9. Flash Photography


The built-in flash is not enough for many purposes. You can get a flash by spending only a few. But if you want a flash that will give pictures without harsh shadows or red eye, it may have a cost you anywhere.

10. Other Features

Dust Reduction System : The DSLRs are prone to catching dust on their sensor as they have removable lenses etc. When just small particles of dust sits on the sensor, you may have spots on the picture, cleaning those spots may take hours in photoshop. Then either you have to clean the dust yourself manually or you have to send it for servicing. So, many manufacturers are now implementing dust reduction systems that will protect dust from entering inside or it will clean those dusts automatically.
Water Resistance : If you want to take some pictures under the water, you should want this feature of the camera. Also, the water resistance features in a camera is useful if go out on shooting in a rainy day.

Thanks for reading so long. I will be glad if this piece of writing serves any use to you. Tell us if you have any suggestion. and  please digg it if you feel people will benefit from it.


January 29, 2010: 1:39 am

Thanks, that made my mind a lot clearer.

July 5, 2009: 8:14 pm

If it takes you hours to photoshop specks out of your photos, may I suggest you have a photoshop problem?

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