• Usability
  • Sensor types
  • Sensor size
  • Exposure
  • Burst Mode
  • Accessories
  • Tips for battery life

Buying Guide: DSLR Cameras

DSLR Cameras are increasingly becoming the type of cameras that people opt for lately. The superior image quality combined with the many functionalities make DSLRs a delight to use. There are also a wide range of accessories which give more power to a DSLR camera.

If you are looking to buy a DSLR camera and don’t know which one is perfect for you, then fret not! Here is a comprehensive guide that will help you choose your ideal camera in no time!

DSLR Buying Guide

Technical terms you should know before we proceed

1. 3x, 5x, etc.

It is the focal length ratio of a zoom lens.

2. Aperture

In a simple language, it is the hole within the lens. The light travels through this hole to the camera body. It can be adjusted to control the amount of light reaching the film.

3. Burst mode

The ability to capture images rapidly till the time the shutter is help down.

4. CCD

Charged Coupled Device. It is a light sensitive chip for image gathering.

5. DSLR

Digital Single Lens Reflex.

6. Exposure

The amount of light that reaches the image sensor.

7. Focal length

This is the lens angle of view. These angles can be classified into telephoto, normal or wide angle. It is usually compared to a 35mm camera lens.

8. Image resolution

It is the number of pixels per unit length of image.

9. Pixels

known as Picture Element, it is a single point on a graphic image. Higher the numbers, greater will be the image.

10. Megapixel

CCD resolution of one million pixels. Usually the digital cameras are rated by megapixels.

11. Optical zoom

It means that the camera has a multi-focal length lens. It is not the same as digital zoom. Digital zoom usually magnifies the center image and lowers the quality of the picture.

12. Polarizer

It is the filter that eliminates glare and reflection. It is similar to polarized sunglasses.

13. Shutter

It is basically the curtain in front of the camera sensor. Once the camera fires, the shutter opens to expose the camera sensor to light.

Factors to be considered while buying a DSLR

Usability

It is faster, smarter and better than any other camera available in the market today. A DSLR camera starts from 20,000 and goes up to 4.5 lakhs. A beginner can purchase the lower range model to give it a start and may go to the higher version to seek a professional line

Beginner

You are a looking to capture pictures with amazing attention to detail.You want more functions than in a compact or point-and-shoot camera

Mid Level

You want more control over the pictures you take with a wide range of accessories.You are looking to explore more techniques and features in a DSLR camera

Professional

You are looking for feature-packed DSLRs which suit to a specific capturing need.You want to take your passion for photography and turn it into a profession.

There are different types of camera available in the market. Know your objective and only then buy the right camera for yourself.

DSLR Camera

This is basically ruling the market as it is one of the favorites of all the professionals. It uses an optical viewfinder to capture the exact image.

A.

It either comes with a kit length (Ex- 18-55mm focal length) or just the body.

B.

DSLR’s is best known for their full control, wide compatibility and high resolution.

C.

DSLR’s also come with large sensors for a better image quality.

D.

For low-light shooting, no camera can beat DSLR.

E.

With so many kinds of high quality lenses, you get plenty of options to get creative.

DSLR is best suited for whom?

• Let’s get straight to the point. Although any person can use this camera, DSLR’s are expensive because of their wide features. If you love photography and want to make it your living then this camera is applicable for you. These cameras can capture moving objects and wildlife. If you want to show your skills to the public then go for DSLR.

• Do not buy this camera if you just want to click family pictures. There are other budget cameras that can serve your purpose.

Mirrorless camera

These are also known as advanced compact cameras. If you want to click excellent images for personal or social use then Mirrorless camera can be a good option.

A.

The image sensor size is similar to the present DSLRs.

B.

Mirrorless cameras do not have optical viewfinder. They usually have electronic viewfinder.

C.

Has excellent video quality as compared to DSLR.

D.

Mirrorless cameras can be carried very easily and can fit in more lenses into the camera bag.

E.

Superior shutter speeds make mirrorless cameras shoot more pictures per second than other cameras.

Mirrorless camera is best for whom

• These cameras are best for beginners and mid-level user. It is light weight, compact and less expensive as compared to DSLR. If photography is your hobby then this should be the right camera for you. The only feature that this camera lacks in is the low-light shooting. Also, you won’t get great images of any moving object.

Sensor types

A sensor converts the light into electronic signals to create a particular image. Bigger the sensor, higher is the quality. There are four types of sensors used in a camera-

CCD

Charged Coupled Device offers high quality image with better dynamic range and noise control. It should be noted that CCD is available in very few cameras and consumes more power than other sensors.

CMOS

Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor are cheaper as compared to CCD and consumes less power. Brands like Panasonic and Olympus use different type of CMOS known as MOS that works like a CCD sensor. It achieves high quality image without draining the battery.

BSI CMOS

Back Illuminated uses a different layout and is more advanced than CMOS. It offers better color to the image, produces less noise and performs best in low-light conditions.

MOS

This sensor type is used by brands like Leica, Olympus and Panasonic. They produce less noise than CCD sensors.

Sensor size

Sensor sizes are normally compared to a standard 35 mm film. A standard 35 mm frame or a full frame is 36 mm x 24 mm. Sensors can be classified into 2 types

Full frame sensor

Better sharpness, better low-light image, broader dynamic range and high ISO performan.

Heading for architectural photography? A full frame sensor size will do a great job as it offers a wider angle with tilt-shift lenses.

Cropped sensor

Cropped sensor is less expensive and is lighter compared to full frame sensors.

If you are interested in shooting wildlife, sports or any far objects then cropped sensor is suitable.

What is a crop factor?

Most of the sensor comes with a sensor size smaller than 35mm film format. Hence, any image you click with such camera is created from a smaller area than the usual standard film. This is the reason it is called a cropped sensor. The field of view changes in cropped sensors as compared to full frame sensors.

APS-C VS Full frame sensors

APS-C is nothing but the crop sensor. So, a DSLR gives you the option of either APS-C or full image sensor.

What is an image sensor?

It is the light-sensitive component that records the image once the shutter has been pressed. The bigger the better! DSLR’s have larger image sensors compared to point-and-shoot cameras or camera phones. Big image sensors will offer highly detailed image as it determines the amount of light to be used.

APS-C sensor offers exceptional images, but the full frame sensors are far superior than APS-C. Full frame sensors capture bigger images than APS-C sensor. However, if you are looking for zooming in on distant objects then APS-C proves to be better.

Most of the professionals seek for full frame sensor. If you are a beginner or an intermediate photographer then APS-C is appropriate.

Exposure

The three basic elements of exposure are shutter speed, ISO sensitivity and aperture range.

Shutter speed

The longer the shutter is open the greater the light is allowed to enter the camera and eventually the image blurs. Well, this is not the case with DSLR’s. You can adjust the perfect shutter speed for any lightning situation.

For example, in low light setting, the shutter speed can be increased to let more light in. The opposite will be in bright conditions. A faster shutter speed will freeze any moving object to provide the exact image you were looking for! A 1/60 shutter speed will definitely offer blur image if compared to 1/1000 shutter speed.

The two types-

High shutter speed

It freezes the action of the object and reduces the blur in the image. It is suited for wildlife, action and sports photography.

Slow shutter speed

It captures the object’s movements and result in blurred image. It is ideal for clicking waterfalls or streams.

ISO sensitivity

It means how sensitive your sensor is to incoming light. This means that a lower ISO is preferable in bright situations and higher ISO during low light situation.

Advantage

DSLR’s offer manual control of your ISO sensitivity. Also, with high ISO numbers you will get sharper images than a small sensor camera.

Aperture

Aperture adjustments are measured in units called f-spots. Higher the f-spots, the smaller the aperture, and the less light that passes through the lens. Higher f-spots would mean sharp images and lower f-spots would mean diffused and softened image. Let’s clear your confusion.If the f-spot is set at f/22 then whole of the image will be in focus. However, if you can set it at f/2.8 then only a small portion of the scene will be at focus and the rest will be blurred. This offers a stylish image

Burst Mode

Burst mode is nothing but the rapid succession of photos taken while holding the shutter. This is an important feature you should look for in case you want to take pictures of any moving objects (like a dance performance, sports, wildlife). There are certain DSLR’s that can take 10 shots per second. DSLR’s are ideally suited for taking such pictures as they have the right processors.

High Dynamic Range (HDR)

A DSLR can do more than you think. Camera with HDR function can take ample of pictures with different scenes you select. The camera will then decide the best pictures to keep and combine it with the best parts in each photo into one wonderful shot! Isn’t this a magic?

To be at a safer side, switch on the HDR mode to get the maximum pictures. In that case if you don’t like one picture, you have several other options as your HDR mode has captured shots at rapid succession!

Multipoint autofocus & scene-recognition modes

Most of the cameras offer autofocus and help you select scene like portrait, indoor, landscape etc. Well, this is not the only thing you should look for. When we talk about DSLRs it is always something more. DSLRs with multipoint autofocus & scene-recognition modes provide automatic control.

The multipoint focus locks the moving objects and offers great capturing action shots.The face recognition feature offers right balance and focus points to show anyone’s face in the best lights.DSLR cameras provide automatic scene recognition and select the right exposure. You don’t have to do much.

Video mode

DSLR cameras are able to take HD quality video because of the light-gathering sensors and lenses. Look for features like autofocus technology as this keeps moving objects in focus to capture the perfect video.

Wi-Fi enabled cameras

Some precious moments should be shared instantly and this is exactly what Wi-Fi enabled cameras offer. Wi-Fi feature is available on some cameras that let you share pictures instantly. There are cameras that also have GPS technology. It allows you to tag where your photos were taken!

GPS

With the GPS feature on a DSLR camera, you do not have to geotag photos anymore. The in-built GPS records the coordinates to geotag photos automatically. Definitely needed for professional photographers, many of the latest DSLR cameras come with this feature.

NFC

NFC (Near Field Connectivity) enables you to connect a mobile device with your NFC-enabled DSLR. Transferring and sharing content becomes easy using this form of connectivity

Megapixels

You might have come across this word several times while buying a smartphone isn’t it?

Myth

Well, the old school theory says that more the megapixels better will be the image. However, this is not always true as all the megapixels are not created equally.

Fact

The camera of a phone and of a DSLR is absolutely different from one another irrespective of the megapixels they have. DSLR’s have large pixels. This means that it can absorb light better and can produce better color with no noise!

Note

A 12 megapixel DSLR will definitely outperform even a 40 megapixel camera phone or a 24 megapixel point-and-shoot camera.

Accessories

Memory cards

Cameras do not typically come with memory card. Memory card is where you store the photos and videos. There are different types of memory cards like-Secure digital high capacity, Compact flash, SDHC. Most of the cameras can accept multiple types of memory cards.

Speed of the memory card

If you are using burst mode or movie mode in DSLR, a high speed memory card is needed. A slow memory card will not offer the right shot. Consider the card’s data transfer rate. Look for rates which are at least 20MB/sec. For HD video recording or high frame-per-second bursts you should see memory cards of 80MB/sec or more.

External Flash

Most of the DLSRs have built-in flash. You need to understand that a built-in flash has to be compact in order to fit in the camera. Thus, it cannot provide the power of an external flash. External flash is more powerful and gives better control over the lightning.

Advantages

Cleaner look, Softer look, Better illumination, Red eye reduction, Flexibility, More natural lightning, Has its own battery and does not drain your camera battery.

Tripods

Sometimes your hands might not work well while taking shots that has longer exposure time. Hence, in that case you would require a tripod. For a landscape shot, night shot or a flawless portrait, you would require a tripod. All tripods fit all types of DLSRs. You just need to decide the size, features and budget.

Extra battery

Battery in DSLR can drain easily. There are different types of batteries like lithium battery, rechargeable Ni-MH battery, rechargeable battery, rechargeable Li-ion battery, alkaline battery, rechargeable Ni-Cd battery, rechargeable alkaline battery, lithium-ion and rechargeable lead acid battery. Different brands use different types of batteries. Always go for lithium batteries instead of AA/AAA batteries. However, it is always better to have a battery backup when you are travelling or enjoying a vacation.

Tips to extend DSLR battery life

The LCD usage is the sole reason behind the battery drainage. It is best to use the LCD monitor sparingly. Limit the LCD brightness and turn off the auto brightness option.

The built-in pop up flash is again a reason for draining the battery. Try using external flash when possible to keep the battery power to the maximum.

Buy a battery grip to double the number of photographs you can shoot. A battery grip consists of two normal camera batteries. When you attach the grip to your camera, it not only extends the battery life but also offer good ergonomics.

Use auto-focus feature only if needed. Many people have the habit of using the AF even when not needed.

Match the features as per your needs

1. Fast burst mode and advanced autofocus system - Best suited for wildlife or sport photography.

2. High-megapixel camera or full frame DSLR - Best for shooting landscapes, sunsets, or architectural photos.

3. High maximum ISO capability - Best suited for shoot during nighttime or natural light around dawn and dusk.

Top Brands
  • Nikon DSLR
  • Canon DSLR
  • Sony DSLR