Essential Guide to buying a DSLR

Confused on which model to choose, from several DSLR’s? Here is a quick guide, to help you navigate through myriad of chooses, today.

No prizes for guessing that the two models which dominate the world of DSLR’s are Canon and Nikon. However, like the SLR technology, which was replaced by DSLR technology, today Olympus, Fuji films, Sony and Panasonic are knocking on the door steps of these leading brands. Newer technologies like mirror less system, and 4k videos are emerging. Nevertheless, Canon and Nikon, continue to lead the market, which obviously translates to better value, for the user.

Before you buy a camera, it is essential, that you know a few things about the camera systems. The below chart, should help you navigate through the available camera systems in the market. The sensor sizes are depicted in the thumbnails. Predictably, the camera phone has the smallest sensor, followed micro 4/3, APS and full frame systems. A bigger sensor is useful, if you are going to use the camera in very low light conditions. But as the subsequent chart would depict, they are also the most expensive, of all the camera systems. Bigger sensor, also means, larger body and larger lenses, which correspond to a much heavier camera

Budget :

You could buy a DSLR from as low as INR 20,000 to as high as INR 4,50,000. Since this is very broad spectrum, first choose your budget. A good DSLR can be bought for 30 to 40 K price point, any lesser and you will be compromising, an older technology in your camera.

Camera buying is only, the beginning of your photography journey. A good camera needs a good lens. Canon and Nikon provide a very good family of lenses with each offering up to 200 lenses for their systems. The price ranges, from a paltry 8,000 for a 50 mm lens to a whopping INR 8,00,000 for some of the super zoom lenses, like the canon 600mm.

The below chart should help you determine, the overall price point of a camera system. As you will notice, whilst buying a camera you should also consider the lens pricing. The numbers depicted are an average of the cost in each category.

Weight:

While we may not realise, this is perhaps the most critical factor to be considered before buying a camera, as several people develop shoulder and back pain carrying heavy gear, while they are out shooting. You may be tempted to buy a full frame DSLR with a super zoom mounted on it, but in the real world you would carrying that weight too. The heaviest cameras are obviously the full frame cameras, which can on an average weigh upwards of 3 kg with the lens attached to body. You definitely need to consider the weight of a camera, if you going on a mountain trail, lugging more than 10 kg of gear.

Here are two zoom lens. One is a full frame lens systems, weighs 3.92 kg and the second is a mirco 4/3 lens of the same focal length which weighs only 298 gm.

Full frame 600 mm Zoom lens

Micro 4/3, Zoom Lens, 600 mm equivalent

Picture Quality:

Unless you are going to blow up (expand) the image to a Hoarding size, as seen typically on the highways, all the above system (including the phone camera) will produce comparable images. Nikon in general is considered to have better IQ (image quality) than Canon. Canon in general, has better video capabilities. However almost all cameras manufactured today, produce stunning image quality. The usual bench mark of a good IQ is any image above, 16 MP (megapixel).

Few Recommendations :

Entry level — Canon 1200, Nikon D3300 — (below 30 k)
Hobbyist — Canon EOS TSi, Nikon D5500 (below 50k)
Enthusiast — Canon 70 D, Nikon 7200, Panasonic G7, Olympus M5, Fujifilm XT1 (Below 70k)
Serious Enthusiast (Wild life Photo) — Canon 7D mark2, Canon 5D Mark3, Nikon 810 (below 1.5 Lakh)
Professional — Canon 1DX and Nikon D4S (Less than INR 4 Lakh or USD 5000)

Lens Recommendations:

Each camera system will come with their own specific lenses, e.g. the full frame camera will come with full frame lens, and an APSc or Micro 4/3 cameras system will have its own specific system.
Any lens will generally fit any camera with an adapter aka speed booster, but the lenses work best with their specific camera system. Lens comes in several categories of which the main are Portrait lens (for faces), Zoom lens (far away objects e.g. A cheetah on the run), Macro lens (extreme close-up like an insect or flower) and a fish eye lens for panoramic view. Generally, most of the entry / mid level camera come with a standard lens called a “kit” lens which is a combination of a portrait lens and a mid range zoom lens. All camera manufacturers, also make their own lenses, however there are some companies which are exclusive lens makers, like Tamron.
A basic lens recommended for all cameras is the 50 mm lens which INR 8,000 for a full frame camera.

Final Word:

The camera is as good or bad as the person behind it. The most famous picture of all times is called the “Afghan girl” which was shot using a Nikon FM2 camera and with a 105mm lens which costs, $170.00 on eBay today. But Steve McCurry, who took this snap has to transverse through war torn, Afghanistan during very troubled times, to get this one snap.
Thus, a camera is as good as, you use it. You cannot become a great photographer looking at the screen of your computer and comparing images J

Final Final Word :

Taking a good picture, is only job half done. Most stunning photos, you see on the internet, have been subjected to some amount of post processing, using Photoshop or light room software. If you are serious about photography this is a must in your arsenal. A camera is very personal product like the phone, you have take it out, and bond with it, before it performs to the best of its abilities.

Entrepreneur, Adventurer, maverick

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