How to Pick the Right DSLR Camera

Choosing the right DSLR camera can certainly be a big decision. There is such a thing as too much camera, which can be overwhelming and frustrating to the new user. However, a more experienced photographer could find some cameras too constricting and frustrating.

Since the camera that you choose will have such a big impact on your digital photography, it is a must that you pick the perfect model for your own needs and skills. Choosing the right camera should be based on a number of different factors.

What Kind of Photographer Are You?

The first thing you must do is evaluate yourself and determine what kind of photographer you are. There are different categories of those interested in digital photography, and finding the right category for yourself is definitely the first step toward pinpointing exactly which DSLR camera is right for you. Try to think of yourself in terms of the categories listed below and determine where you fit in.

The Professional
The professional photographer is going to be the type that will be making money off of their images. Whether this includes portrait photography or art style landscapes and scenery, the professional will need the top of the line DSLR camera as well as a variety of equipment to go along with it.

The Enthusiast
The enthusiast will be a photographer who is well on their way to a semi pro level. This type of photographer will have a love of digital photography as well as the equipment needed for that photography. They may already know a great deal about imaging and settings but they have not reached a professional level yet.

The Newcomer (serious)
There are two different levels of newcomers. The first will be the type that knows little about digital photography but has a true want to learn. They will need a more basic camera, but they will require something that gives them room to learn, practice and begin honing their skills.

The Newcomer (casual)
The casual newcomer is more interested in being able to take decent pictures in a hurry. While they may be interested in the advancements of a DSLR camera, they will, in many ways, still want the convenience that comes along with point and shoot.
Once you have determined what type of photographer you are, you will be one step closer to choosing the right camera. In order to further narrow down your options, you will need to ask yourself some questions.

A Camera Shopping Questionnaire

Consider the following your very own questionnaire. By asking yourself the right questions, you will find it much easier to choose just the right DSLR camera. If you feel that you are unsure on some of the questions, do not worry. There are many different in-depth parts to the digital camera that may simply be more than you need.

What Do You Expect from Resolution?
It is easy to get caught up in the resolution craze. Some people think that the higher the megapixel number, the better. This is not always the case though. In many situations, you may simply be paying for something that you will never need. Here is a good rule of thumb. A 10-12 megapixel camera is perfectly capable of taking good quality 4×6 sized images. For those who want to print wall portraits above an 8×10 in size, a camera with a megapixel range of 4-16 would be better suited.

Do You Like to Stay Cutting Edge?
DSLR cameras can range greatly in price and style. Many people may choose a camera and be perfectly happy with it for the foreseeable future. These people may wish to spend more on the initial camera investment. Other photographers are more interested in having the latest and greatest models. They will need to upgrade about every 18 months and then expense could come into play.

Would You Prefer Compact or Full Sized?
DSLR cameras are certainly bigger than point and shoot cameras due to the lens. However, there are types that fall under the category of compact DSLR and they are more travel friendly. However, they will not have as many controls and features as a full sized camera will have. Your style of digital photography should have an effect on this decision.

Are there Special Features that You Want?
These days, cameras can come loaded with all sorts of special features that may or may not matter to you. You will need to determine which ones do matter and which do not. Examples of special features include the following:

    – Video Recording and HD Video Recording
    – Image Stabilization Built into the Camera
    – Extreme ISO Ranges
    – Extreme Shutter Speed Ranges
    – Multi Image or Burst Modes
    – Dust Removal for Sensor Cleaning
    – Review Options and Features

What is Your Budget?
It would be nice if you did not have to think about budget. However in reality, this could be a deciding factor. DSLR cameras can range in price from less than a thousand to more than ten thousand dollars. You need to decide how much money you are willing to devote to your digital photography.

Is Full Frame Something You Want to Consider?
As mentioned, most standard DSLR cameras work with a cropped frame. For many photographers, this simply is not an issue. However, those who wish to make the move to professional or those who are already professionals may see this as a concern. Full frame cameras are a little harder to find and a little more expensive, but thankfully, they are becoming more common than ever.

Choosing the right DSLR camera can have a direct impact on your digital photography. You will need to choose carefully in order to pick a camera that will have all of the features that you want with none of the features that you do not need. By following the information above, you should find it quite easy to narrow down to a camera that will certainly suit you the best.

Top image by Martin Taylor

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What Our Readers have to say

  1. Michal says:

    If you are NOT a newcomer you don’t need any of those tips, you know enough to make the right decision. If you are a newcomer and really don’t know how to use Google or are afraid to do so for some reason:
    1) Set your budget for the camera.
    2) Go to a camera store and feel, touch and smell all cameras within your price range (less $150). Pick the one that feels the best.
    3) Buy a 50mm f1.8 lens in addition to the body you just purchased.

    All done, enjoy your new camera.

  2. Pretty good tips by the commenter above. Nevertheless, the post was pretty thorough. Perhaps more thorough than the newcomer will be capable of grasping in total.

  3. William says:

    A 10-12 megapixel camera is perfectly capable of taking good quality 4×6 sized images. For those who want to print wall portraits above an 8×10 in size, a camera with a megapixel range of 4-16 would be better suited.
    I must be missing something here. Maybe a typo?
    I like the touch, feel comment by Michal. If possible go to a camera store so there is no cable attached to the camera.
    I recommend that people buy the camera body and upgrade the lens at time of purchase and instead of getting that cheap telephoto lens just get a good lens to start. I like the 18-250 lens for a walk around lens. Better glass than the kit lens and will give more options without additional expense down the road. It helps to keep the sensor safer without the changing of lenses from kit to telephoto.

  4. I will be upgrading shortly to a Canon 600D from a Panasonic Lumix FZ30. I have a wide angle converter for my panasonic which has given me some great shots. I would like an equivalent wide angle to match in with my new purchase. Any suggestions?

  5. Iulian A. says:

    before buying a camera, must be decided what to do in the future. If left to unnivel the beginner or the professional photographer will evolve. Generally aim to have quality lenses and camera body to be changed to any technical evolution (as a professional photographer or enthusiast)

  6. agree with the above. getting confident with kit is sometimes tricky in-store, so a bit of research can go a long way. Knowing the camera you short-list has sufficient latitude technically will allow you to ‘grow’ as your confidence grows> This will probably encourage you to try different techniques / styles etc. as well. If budget permits maybe consider leasing a body and a lens for a weekend, I leased a few bodies over a weekend before deciding.

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