This is a detailed guide on how to choose and buy a DSLR camera. Some of my friends that visit my blog regularly ask me questions about photo gear. The questions range from “what should I get to create good-looking pictures?” all the way to “should I buy Canon or Nikon?” Since I went through the pain of researching on what to buy for myself long time ago and have been constantly keeping track of the developments in this industry, I decided to write this small “FAQ” or “how-to” on buying DSLR cameras.
I have never owned anything more than a “point and shoot” camera and want to buy a professional camera to create professional-looking pictures. What do you recommend?
This is probably the most frequently asked question I have gotten so far. First of all, there is a common misconception that one can only create professional-looking pictures with a professional camera. This is absolutely not true. Some of the best photographs out there are shot with point and shoot cameras. People even manage to take awesome pictures using their phone cameras! So, does a camera truly matter? It does and it doesn’t. For most people out there that are just getting into photography, it doesn’t. For professionals who make a living selling pictures, it does big time. See “A Camera is Just a Tool” in my Nikon vs Canon vs Sony article, where I go into more details about this.
Digital photography, first and foremost, is about light. Beautiful light creates beautiful photographs. Once you learn how to manage light, you can start taking stunning photographs and your gear won’t matter that much. Knowing your camera functionality and technique are second. Most people that shoot with point and shoot cameras don’t even know their own cameras! They just put it in “Auto” mode and don’t bother to figure out important camera settings and modes. True, “Auto” modes are great, but if you look back at all your photos, did your camera produce great photographs every time you took a picture? I’m sure it didn’t! There are three common reasons, which apply even to professional cameras:
- Bad light
- Bad technique
- No creativity
If you take all of your photographs and sort good ones versus bad ones, I’m sure the majority of the bad ones will be the ones taken indoors (birthdays, parties, etc) and the majority of the good photographs will be the ones taken in bright sunny days. Wonder why? Again, it is because of light. In low light conditions, a point and shoot camera increases the sensitivity of its sensor (ISO), resulting in a lot of noise (remember those grainy pictures that you wish were a little bit cleaner?), while in bright conditions with good light, a point and shoot automatically decreases camera sensitivity, stops down the lens (aperture) decreasing noise and resulting in beautiful and sharp photographs (good tips on using a point and shoot).
But point and shoot cameras have limitations. Even if you master the light and know your point and shoot inside out, the camera will not be able to do some of the things a DSLR can. So, here is a list of advantages DSLR cameras have over point and shoots:
Ability to change lenses and depth of field. A point and shoot has an integrated general purpose lens, while you can get a wide range of lenses for a DSLR. If you are wondering why you would need different lenses, take a look at this shot: