A Treatise On How To Buy The Best DSLR [DSLR Buyers Guide]

Updated on 2018-02-25 by Tejas Upmanyu


How to buy the best dslr

Remember the days when no one wanted those big ass cameras except professional photographers, who made a living out of photography. You’ll concede to the fact that Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras (DSLR) have jumped onto the mainstream consumer products rankings quite rapidly in a recent couple of years.

DSLRs are now touching more and more beginners and casual photoholics, the primal reasons behind this astounding growth in the popularity of DSLRs can be credited to falling prices and more user-friendly approach by camera manufacturers. If you love taking photos, no matter how great a smartphone you have, the thought of having a DSLR has definitely crossed your mind, well before It passes away this time into the void, let’s get to know more about DSLRs and what things to look out for while getting one.

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Why DSLRs? I have a decent smartphone camera!

Yeah, we know modern day smartphones boast stupendous cameras which put plenty of camera performance in the pockets of people, then the question is why should you get a DSLR? Valid point, mate! Well let me give you not one but a multitude of reasons for why buying a DSLR is not a foul expense.

Quality

Are we even talking about this? No doubt, smartphones like Pixel 2 and iPhone X are filling the chasm between smartphone photography and DSLRs quite rapidly but Its quite safe to say that even the best of lot can’t outmatch DSLRs and I don’t think would be able to anytime soon until researchers find a way to get giant sensors for capturing more detail and light on smartphones like DSLRs.

Bigger sensors mean more detail, light, less noise, faster ISO, translating to faster shutter speeds and a whole lot of things for which DSLRs stand. So if you are looking to get the best photo, you got to get a DSLR mate.

Also Read: Best DSLRs in India Under Rs. 40000

Customization

Most DSLRs are customizable, meaning you can add better lenses, more optical zoom or maybe a bigger flash and what not? DSLRs can be fitted with a myriad of different quality and power lenses, which is the ultimate expression of photographic freedom. Of course, this adds diversity and adds flexibility to your photography journey, with a lens for every occasion given you have the buck to get them.

                                                How to choose the best dslr accessories

Depth of Field

One thing all of the photographers cherish is the depth of field effect a full-blown DSLR provides, It is far better than what flagships of today can do and there’s no doubt about the finesse with which a DSLR can make the background blurry (gradually with distance) and attract more focus on the foreground.

If you are wowed by the artificial depth effect in smartphones nowadays, get a DSLR and you are in for a treat.

Sophisticated Controls

If you know the basics of photography and some jargon, like white balance and exposure and a whole lot of other things, you’ll come to appreciate the level of control a DSLR provides to the photographer. You can tinker with the tiniest of details and settings to get the best photo you dream of. If you are a pro, you know what you have your hands in, DSLRs serve as a medium for you to express.

Speed

Yeah, your smartphone might have the so-called Snapdragon inside it, but DSLRs are mean machines built only for photography, this focused philosophy allows for staggering performance for image processing and other tasks, one of the simple ones being auto-focus. It varies from DSLR to DSLR and with price obviously but even the cheapest of full-fledged DSLRs are times faster than a smartphone with all that super sharp quality intact.

Now, that we have made the case for DSLRs, let’s cut the chase and find out the things you should watch out for when buying a new DSLR.

DSLRs kept together on a rock

Things to Consider before buying a DSLR

So after taking a look at how and why DSLRs are much better than smartphones for taking pictures. Let's take a look at the list of things/specifications that you should keep in mind before buying a DSLR.

Camera Sensor

Not going very technical about it, camera sensor is probably the most deciding factor about a DSLR or any camera in that sense. What it does is, that when you press that shutter button, It digitally preserves the image details and sends it further to image processor. While purchasing a DSLR, you have multiple sensor choices.

Image of a Camera sensor of a DSLR

Source: Techhive

You can get a crop sensor (also known as an APS-C sensor) or go full frame. There’s an additional Micro Four Thirds sensor, but that’s a choice if you are going for a mirrorless camera. The size of the sensor is of prime importance here, that’s why you get a DSLR instead of a smartphone camera, bigger sensors, right? The APS-C sensor is a lot of cuts above usual point and shoot cameras or any smartphone camera out there, It renders marvelous shots, which you’ll cherish every time you look at them.

Full frame has a whole different story. As the name says, Its a bigger sensor, more light, more details translate to sharper images, vibrant colors, great balance and minimal noise, low-light performance of full frame sensors is exceptional. Of course, full frame sensor based DSLRs are costly, but that’s a question for you.

Image Processors

A processor is the brain of a computer, you’ve heard it a gazillion times, right? Well, let’s build upon that knowledge. Image processors are the brains of a DSLR or any camera. Image processors in DSLRs are far superior to any smartphone camera. Its quite intricate to compare things in this department because unlike the smartphone arena, where Qualcomm or some other chip manufacturer packs the Image processor and makes the specs available, loud and clear, camera manufacturers are not like that, sadly. It is not only about the hardware, If you are a software buff like me, you should be scratching your head by now to compare the proprietary software that runs on top of already incomparable hardware.

As we can’t compare them spec-wise, we can take the black-box approach and pit the cameras in terms of their visible performance like shutter speeds, fps handling capacity, auto-focus speeds and burst mode performance and a whole lot of other things. So you need to look out for these tiny performance features to arrive at the best image processor at the price.

Megapixels

Yeah, yeah, It is the megapixels again. While some of you might be picking up your swords for switching on my previous statements on myths of higher megapixels. Megapixels are the units in which resolution of a camera is measured. More megapixels mean greater resolution and a better image ultimately but that’s not as straightforward as it appears.

Smartphone manufacturers like to boast tens of megapixels into a small screen to make you go crazy for the camera, but there’s a huge trade-off there. You are getting more megapixels, true, the sensor size is still the same though. To fit extra pixels, into that small sensor, you need to cut the pixel size, obviously and that’s where the purpose of having more megapixels gets thrashed. DSLRs, on the other hand, have larger sensors to support those tens of megapixels of resolution, so what you get is the ultimate transfer of quality from a greater number of megapixels perfectly translating to jaw-dropping image quality.

A simple fact for you to end this, A 12MP DSLR, outperforms a 24MP point and shoot camera and a 40MP smartphone camera, so we cool? DSLRs for the win. Do watch out for the megapixel number in case of DSLRs as it really matters.

Aperture

DSLRs and every camera use lens. Lenses have a property called aperture, meaning how much a lens in bend from its center. I know, I deserve a bash from the optics people for this crude definition but that’s pretty much the essence. The aperture of a camera is calculated in terms of f-stops. Greater fstops means lesser aperture and hence lesser light the lens can accommodate on its surface, less light, horrible photos. There’s a positive to this, more aperture means greater distance from the focal point of the lens and hence the image appears sharper.

                                   Aperture of a DSLR difference

On the other hand, lower aperture means the lens can take more light in and hence more details and better photos. Lower f-stops mean less distance from the focal point and hence only a small portion of the image is in focus, with an incredible level of detail.Another merit to the DSLRs is that you can set the fstops, so you can use a lower aperture for soft, focused image or a bigger one for a more sharper one.

                       Image of various apertures of a camera

Source: Engadget

ISO And Shutter Speeds

What ISO essentially means is the sensitivity of your camera sensor to incoming light. So, when there’s low-light, your sensor should be super sensitive to light to get the best out of what’s available. On the other side, the ISO should be low enough to prevent overwhelming the sensor from too much light in well-lit situations. This flexibility to adjust lights according to situations is what makes a camera great. A good pointer is to get the lowest ISO you can work with. Get minimal grains, lesser noise with lower ISO levels.

DSLRs have good control over ISO, so you’ll get sharp images even with high ISO levels. Plus the best thing is that you get control over ISO levels with manual settings. So if you are a beginner, go ahead with auto ISO levels instead of going full-on kamikaze with manual tinkering.

Shutter speeds, as insignificant as it may sound. It controls the amount of light that enters the camera, and at what speeds it gets cuts. Greater shutter speeds lead to greater control and less blurry images, which of course everyone hates. With DSLRs, you get the ultimate control over shutter speed over any lighting situation you are in. For example, you can make the shutter speeds longer to get more light in, and alternatively decrease it in day-light situations to avoid blurs.

HDR And Auto Focus

If you have not been under a rock, you have used HDR or at least heard of it. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and is basically a fancy way of saying that when HDR is enabled, your camera will take multiple shots of a scene with different exposures and then compare all of them to find the best regions from different photos, clubbing them together to get the perfect shot you want.

The problems that arise without HDR are not too hard to imagine, suppose you snap a great eclipse and somehow the first image isn’t too good, so you go out to take another one but until then, the eclipse is over, unfortunate, but happens with the best of us. HDR can be a savior in these situations, so always look out for HDR, while most of the DSLRs and good cameras have HDR, not all HDR algorithms are same, so keep an eye out for great HDR performance before buying a DSLR.

                               Dynamic range of a DSRL

Autofocus is as common as it gets nowadays, but the speed and accuracy are what makes a camera better than else. The capabilities of multi-point autofocus instead of fixating on just a single subject is really great. Along with great and precise auto-focus, what really sets out a camera nowadays is scenic adaptations, that make a camera adapt to the scene you are in, to get the best shot possible. Many DSLRs come with inbuilt scene modes from which you can switch to get the most of the scene.

SuggestPhone’s Conclusion

So that’s it guys, we know you have a lot more to add, we are quite aware of the fact that you are better photographers than us certainly and many among you might have a lot to correct/add to this journey of educating and suggesting the best DSLRs to all. We see SuggestPhone as a platform where the communication is not unidirectional where we write and you read, instead of a bi-directional one where you also educate us to do better and share your thoughts with others.

In this pursuit of pure knowledge and selfless help for others, who are new and don’t know much about the topic, we’d appreciate you joining the spirit, by commenting and providing us your imminent feedback.

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