You should consider your camera needs, desired features, and potential accessories when thinking about what DSLR camera to purchase. You can also base your DSLR decision around the camera’ features, like sensor size, megapixels, video mode, and shooting modes. Whether you are a professional sports photographer or a mother looking to document the journey of her newborn daughter, a DSLR camera will help you capture beautiful, special moments to share with generations.
EditTaking Your Needs into Account
- Consider an entry-level, amateur DSLR camera if you are a beginner. Amateur cameras are the easiest to learn and most affordable. If you don't have very much photography experience and are looking for a camera to record your life, capture family memories, or document a vacation, you should go with an amateur level camera.
- Examples of amateur cameras include: T3i, Nikon D3200/D5300, Sony Alpha A3000.
- Think about a semi-professional camera if you have some photography experience. If you have a middle-range level of photography experience, where you have some understanding of basic amateur cameras but want to try to take your skills to the next level, choose a semi-professional camera. Semi-professional cameras have more complex features, more versatility, and better construction.
- Examples of semi-professional cameras include: Canon EOS 60D, Nikon D7100/D300s, Sony Alpha A77.
- Buy a professional camera if you are looking to do advanced photography work. If you are looking to learn professional photography or looking to level up your semi-professional camera, select a professional camera. They have the most advanced sensor technology, focus system, construction, and speed.
- Examples of professional cameras include: Canon EOS 5D Mark III/EOS 1D X, Nikon D800/D4, Sony Alpha A99. 
- Set a budget to spend on your camera. A good DSLR can cost you anywhere from $500 to $3,000 or more, so cap a limit to what you want to spend. Narrowing your focus by sticking with your budget will help you pick out a camera in your price range.
- Amateur DSLRs cost around $500 to 800 for a camera kit including one lens.
- Semi-professional camera bodies alone costs between $1,000 and 1,800.
- Professional DSLR camera body alone is between $3,000 and $10,000.
- Also consider the cost of other camera necessities, like memory cards, batteries, and lenses. These expenses vary based on size and type. Typically, memory cards cost around $50, batteries cost between $40 and $80, and lenses range between $100 and $2,000. 
- Decide between DSLR brands based on your personal preference. Mostly all DSLR cameras are sold by either Canon or Nikon. Other brands include Sony, Olympus, and Pentax. All of these brands feature great DSLR options, and the choice mainly comes down to personal preference. Pick camera brand based on which camera has strengths in the areas most important to you, like camera features, appearance, and size.
EditDeciding on Camera Features
- Look for a camera with the largest sensor size within your budget. The camera's sensor helps determine clarity of your photos. Each camera has an image sensor inside, which records the image through the viewfinder and sends it to the memory card. The larger the sensor size, the clearer your pictures will be. “Full frame” or 36mm x 24mm is the largest sensor size. The exact size depends on the model of the camera, though you always want to look for the largest sensor size possible.
- Most amateur and semi-professional cameras have a sensor size of around 22mm x 16mm. 
- Ensure your camera has at least 10-15 megapixels. Megapixels are the total points of light (pixels) that the sensor receives in order to create the image. Megapixels affect the use of your image rather than image quality. More megapixels means more potential to make the image larger and not lose clarity. Nearly all new DSLR cameras come with at least 10-15 megapixels, and this is adequate for most photography purposes.
- Lenses and sensor quality affect the image itself more than megapixels.
- If you are pursuing professional photography, you may want a camera with 20 or more megapixels for extra potential to blow up your images.
- Choose high definition capabilities if you are planning on using your camera to take video. If you plan on using your camera for taking videos, look to see if the video capabilities are in high definition. Many amateur cameras can record in full high definition, with 1080p. Others are non-HD and record in 720p.
- Also look at the different recording frame rates. Higher rates help smooth out motion.
- Look for a camera with a variety of modes. All cameras shoot in either “auto” or “manual” mode, and they usually come with different camera modes, such as portrait, landscape, night, indoor, panorama, and action. Review the camera’s shooting modes and select which one offers you the most option for your photography needs.
- If you are not looking to do advanced photography work, the “auto” shooting mode should work just fine. This is where you can access different camera modes like portrait, landscape, and panorama.
- If you want to get more hands-on with your photo settings, look for a camera where you can use “manual” mode to adjust camera specifications, such as aperture and shutter speed. 
- Choose a camera with internal editing capabilities if you do not have photo editing software. Many amateur cameras include quick editing features to instantly alter your images. You can apply filters, make adjustments, or change the exposure, for example. Photo editing software makes these changes much easier, but using these editing features lessens your reliance on these often expensive programs. 
- Hold the camera to decide on its body detail and visual appeal. Make note of the quality of camera's body, size, and overall look. Does the camera fit in your hand well? Is the camera too heavy? Do you want the option of a touchscreen for the camera’s view screen? This is more personal preference, but picking up the camera and inspecting it helps ensure you purchase a camera you will love and use often.
EditBuying Accessories and Tools
- Determine the type of lens to add to your camera. Look for a lens where you can zoom in or out with the same lens, as opposed to fixed lenses that do not offer the option to zoom in. Some stores offer camera “kits,” which include lenses and other items for your camera. Most kits have lenses in the 18-55mm range. Lenses are crucial for your photo’s quality and sharpness.
- Landscape are shot with a wide angle, about 18mm.
- Portraits are shot at a normal angle, about 55mm.
- If you plan to shoot nature, wildlife, or sports, look for a lens with a telephoto zoom, about 70-200mm range.
- Lenses range in price from about $100 to $2,000.
- Consider purchasing an accessory flash. While many DSLR cameras come with a basic pop-up flash, they may make the brightness of your photos inconsistent. Think about investing in an accessory flash, which you mount to the top of your camera. Accessory flashes are more powerful, allowing you to shoot at a greater distance.
- Flashes cost about $100 to $500, based on brand and quality.
- Purchase a camera bag to protect and store your DSLR camera. Your camera is an expensive investment and deserves to be protected. Camera bags are not usually a major expense, costing around $30 to $80, depending on brand, material, and size. 
- Get a back-up battery just in case. Your camera will come with a battery, but it is helpful to have a second battery as a back-up. They are particularly helpful when traveling. Batteries cost between $40 and $80, based on camera type. 
- Invest in a tripod to help with photo clarity. A tripod is a 3-legged stand used to help stabilize your camera. Tripods are useful because they help cut down on image blurriness They reduce potential poor focus and reduce potential camera movements. Tripods screw into the bottom of your DSLR, and with them you can take pictures while hands-free.
- Tripods cost on average $50 to $100.
- You can also use monopods or table tripods.
- Use Every Nikon Digital SLR
- Buy Lenses for Your Digital SLR
- Take Good Photos Using a DSLR
- Attach a Lens to the Nikon DSLR
EditSources and Citations
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