SLR Digital Cameras

A Complete Buyer’s Guide: How to Pick a New SLR Digital Camera

Today’s digital cameras can generally be divided into two types. The first, and easily the most popular, is the point-and-shoot model targeted to typical consumers who have no real expertise in photography. These cameras are perfect for those who don’t need a long line of professional features, technical benefits, and an impressively high-quality image sensor. They don’t fit the bill for professional photographers, though, who require SLR digital cameras to take the kind of pictures that can accurately document life’s major events and milestones.

Picking between the major brands of digital SLR cameras can be pretty tricky. Every major brand offers one of these models to professional photographers, and each camera comes with a slightly different set of features in order to differentiate itself from the pack. Despite slightly different features and capabilities, choosing between these models can actually be done using a relatively universal set of guidelines and decision points. For professional photographers who are on the market for their first digital SLR model, or an upgrade to their existing camera, there are a few simple things to keep in mind before completing the purchase.

1. Camera Sensor, Camera Sensor, Camera Sensor

It simply cannot be stated enough: The camera sensor is the single most important attribute of any digital SLR camera being purchased by today’s photographers. The reason this is so important is that “camera sensor” is a distinctly different way to buy cameras than shopping by megapixel rating. It’s actually relatively easy to give a camera more megapixels to work with. That does not, however, increase the quality of the pictures being taken by the camera. What it does do is merely increase the raw size of the pictures being taken.

The camera sensor itself determines the quality of the photo, as well as its size in megapixels. Today’s leading models work with megapixel ratings of anywhere from 10 megapixels to 14, and that’s a great rating for everything from 4×6 photos to truly large wall prints. The camera sensor’s technical capabilities will determine the vividness of the colors, the focus of the prints, and the longevity of the camera in professional situations. Things like the camera sensor’s thickness, size, backlighting, and other attributes, are important.

Before buying any of today’s digital SLR cameras, look into the technology used in the camera sensor. Judge its technical capabilities against its megapixel rating when determining whether the camera will last long enough to justify its price. This is the very first thing that should be considered before researching any other features.

2. Look into How Well the Camera Can be Modified and Extended

The whole point of an SLR camera, digital or not, is that it can be extended using attachable flashes and lenses. This allows the camera to be used in a far wider range of professional situations that point-and-shoot models simply would not be able to handle. Wide-angle lenses, and those that extend the camera’s zoom, are just two examples of the many reasons that digital SLR cameras are far better than their compact counterparts.

Every major digital camera brand on the market advertises a different kind of lens compatibility for their DSLR models. This is one of the key ways that today’s leading manufacturers differentiate their models from the competition. Research the lens compatibility of the camera and the number of lenses available. If those lenses line up well with where and how the camera will be used, then it’s likely a good buy. If the opposite is true, it’s time to consider another brand.

3. Speed is a Key Feature

It’s quite important to give any digital SLR camera a hands-on test before completing the purchase, especially to judge the speed of the camera. Generally, most people are more concerned with speed as it affects their computers, smartphones, and tablets, but digital SLR cameras are also subject to these concerns. They can take anywhere from a few seconds to a minute to turn on, and their shutter speed will also vary between each model.

Give every digital SLR camera a hands-on test before buying, and judge whether its speed will work in real-life situations. Turn the camera on, take pictures, and try to use the camera’s focus. If these features are highly responsive, the camera will likely enjoy a long and useful life. Otherwise, it will turn into a series of headaches and professional stumbles that today’s photographers just can’t afford.

4. Make Sure the Camera Has Appropriate Manual Controls

In the digital photography era, many consumers have gotten used to letting their camera do their work for them when it comes to zoom, focus, and other features. SLR digital cameras are specifically designed to let photographers have more control over these and other features, and any worthy model should have manual controls paired with its digital capabilities. If it doesn’t, the camera should probably be considered a non-starter for professionals. After all, if manual control of the optics is not an option, why not just buy a point-and-shoot model instead?

5. Test the Camera’s Depth of Field

One area where point-and-shoot cameras really struggle is depth of field. The background and foreground don’t seem to matter to most models on the market, and it’s pretty hard to focus and blur images in a way that challenges the eye and comes across as pretty advanced. Be sure to test any SLR digital cameras on the market, ensuring that they can appropriately handle depth of field and give photos the kind of dimension that will make them much more enjoyable after production.

With a Few Simple Guidelines, Buying is Actually Pretty Easy

SLR digital cameras tend to be released and updated less frequently than consumer models, largely because they use technology that is slower to develop and years ahead of what is in today’s point-and-shoot cameras. With a few careful considerations when buying one of these models, professional photographers can reward themselves with a long-term investment that will allow them to capture life’s milestones in a professional and impressive way, every time.

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