Thursday, March 17, 2011

Your First Digital SLR - What You Should Know?

If like me, you're thinking about getting (or already are) serious about photography, whether as a hobby or maybe even as a line of work, one of the first investments you'll be looking to make is in a good digital SLR. There are a number of different makes and models (just a few!) and you'll need to make some careful considerations when deciding on the best DSLR camera for your needs.

What is a DSLR camera and how is it different to other digital cameras?
SLR stands for single lens reflex and describes the way these types of cameras behave. Light passes through the camera lens to a mirror that then reflects the light upward to a pentaprism or pentamirror - which corrects the mirroring of the image - before being reflected to the viewfinder. When the shutter is released, the initial mirror flips up to allow the light to pass through the shutter and capture the image.

SLR cameras allow for more accurate composition and colour balance in your shot, as what you see through the viewfinder is what you get in your final picture. They also have faster response times and allow for more control which means you can get more creative with your shots, such as focusing on different elements of the composition. Meanwhile, digital SLR cameras allow for digital capture so that you can review your images instantly.

Choosing your first DSLR - what to consider

Many makes and models of DSLR cameras behave in similar ways - but there are lots of variations between the types. Choosing the best DSLR camera for your needs depends on how you intend to use the machine - and the amount you're willing to spend. Here are some points to keep in mind:

Megapixels - these days, most DSLR cameras will offer substantial megapixels, starting at about 8 MP up to 24 MP or more. Having more megapixels generally means better resolution for large prints or when you're enlarging small sections of a shot. However, having more megapixels isn't the be all and end all for getting quality pictures. In poor lighting conditions, for example, your camera sensor can sometimes record the wrong colour tone for a particular pixel, creating "noise" in your photographs resulting in a speckled appearance. Professional photographers may prefer a higher megapixel count if their photos will be used in large prints, such as billboards, or if they plan on significantly cropping the image. Consider how you'll be using the camera and how big you'll be printing photos when deciding on how many megapixels you'll need.

Cost - Your budget will determine the type of DSLR camera you purchase. Remember that in addition to buying the camera body, you might want a couple of camera lenses as well. A good zoom lens, for example, will bring you up close to your subject while a wide angle lens will broaden your angle view and give you a unique perspective. You may also want to invest in camera accessories, including filters, a camera bag or even an extra battery to make the most out of your machine.

Speed - one of the most noticeable benefits of switching to a DSLR camera is the speed. A typical digital camera involves a bit of shutter lag (the delay between pushing the button and actually capturing the image). DSLR cameras are much quicker in their response time. If you'll be shooting lots of action photographs, such as at sporting events, then a faster model is a must.

Ebay or Amazon? - These can be particularly valuable places to pick up some great bargains. New or used DSLR'S can be yours at incredibly knocked down prices but remember to us caution and research any seller thoroughly before committing to buy. I bought my own Sony Alpha 350 off Ebay about a year ago for nearly half price. It was virtually untouched and it's been a great camera ever since I bought it. However, be sure to really research the seller and their feed-back before committing to buy!

Choosing the right DSLR camera requires some good old fashioned research. Ask for advice from friends and family who own DSLR cameras, or maybe borrow one for a weekend. Read photography magazines and check out web sites and blogs like Photography Blog for professional advice, reviews and updates on technology developments. Investing in a quality DSLR camera will really add a whole new dimension to your photography experience - so make sure you get it right!