If you’re new to the photography game, you may be wondering what DSLR stands for and why you should get that type of camera. Simply put, DSLR means digital single lens reflective. This basically means the camera uses digital sensors to capture the image bounced off of a single mirror. We’re not going to get into all the technical jargon. But the reason so many photographers favor DSLR’s is because of the manual controls, sharp picture quality and interchangeable lenses. All of these factors allow for more creative control and ultimately, some pretty awesome pictures. So what are the Best Dslr For All Types Of Photography and the best dslr camera for photography?
The best dslr for all types of photography
1. Nikon D3500
If you’re looking for an entry-level DSLR you can rely on, even after you’ve become a pro, Nikon’s D3500 is a worthwhile investment. It is both brilliant for beginners and jam-packed with advanced options.
The D3500’s 24.2 megapixel DX-format sensor can capture detailed photos and Full HD videos with ease, particularly for those keen to experiment with blurred-background bokeh effects. It also has an ISO range of 100–25600, which dictates its light sensitivity, meaning you can capture clear photos in bright lights and midnights.
For easy, high-quality images you can keep the camera on ‘Auto’, but you may prefer the D3500’s ‘Guide Mode’. The mode actually guides you through manual settings adjustments to help you learn and capture the best images imaginable. All of which is supported by its remarkable 1,550-shot battery life.
2. Canon 800D
Firstly, the 800D is wonderfully light and compact for a DSLR, making it very comfortable for entry-level photographers and hobbyists to handle. That’s not to say it’s technically compromised, either – the 800D uses the latest 24.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS Sensor and its many features are controlled through a large, multi-angled touchscreen.
With the 800D, you also have every kind of connectivity option you could need. You can even control the camera and share photos remotely through Canon’s Camera Connect app, via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC.
Video capture is limited to 1080p on this model, and is only slightly improved for the HD-ready 80D, but the technical specifications are incredibly similar otherwise, meaning the (significantly cheaper) 800D is a better choice for everyone but professional videographers. Many customers actually prefer the 800D’s light-sensitivity and responsiveness for day-to-day shooting.
3. Pentax K-70
Though Pentax has yet to rival the sales of market leaders like Canon and Nikon, the company’s DSLRs are more than a match for their rival brands. The 24 megapixel CMOS sensor on the K-70, in particular, benefits from in-body image stabilisation that works with any lens (a feature which would cost much more from other makes).
The camera is packed with useful features, too; an ISO range from 100 to 102,400, a shutter speed of 1/6000sec, even a weather-resistant shell which protects the camera from inclement weather.
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For ambitious or intermediate photographers, the Pentax K-70 is among the best in class. Tentative upgraders can even use its ‘Hyper Operating’ mode to control aperture and shutter speed without having to switch to manual. Plus, with a number of quality Pentax lenses that cost less than those of its rivals, it’s a pretty great investment.
Best DSLR for professionals
4. Nikon D850
The Nikon D850 is the very best professional DSLR camera on the market. It comes with a powerful 45.7 megapixel sensor and the power to shoot seven frames per second (fps), which is somewhat incredible for the megapixels. With 153 auto-focus points, the D850 is also wildly intuitive, making it particularly useful for shooting portraits, wildlife and action photography. As the most premium camera in Nikon’s range, its wide dynamic range can outsmart low-light conditions and record pin-sharp 4k video with ease.
The D850 is also the current preferred camera of Telegraph photographer Geoff Pugh. “For me it has a the perfect balance of shooting speed, image quality and ergonomics,” he says.
“Firstly, it feels comfortable in the hand when used with an array of different lenses. The viewfinder is a pleasure to look through, even as a glasses wearer. The controls are very intuitive and allow quick access. The camera’s auto focus is fast and reliable, and the sensor is great, offering enough detail to crop in when needed.”
This is, however, a professional grade-camera with a price tag to match. The regular retail price for the body alone is £2,699, and additional lenses are sold separately. Thankfully, some retailers sell the D850 for less than £2,000 on occasion. When they do, look out for compatible lenses at a reduced cost to make the most of the moment.
Who should buy a DSLR camera?
DSLR cameras take users beyond photography’s pale – particularly when compared to that which you can get from a ‘point and shoot’. While smartphone camera technology can now replace most point and shoots, it doesn’t stand a chance against the power and detail available from a good DSLR camera.
DSLRs simply give you more options and, though their specific features will vary, the choice to take complete control over how your lens processes the world around you. Because you can shoot in RAW (an unprocessed image format), photos taken by DSLR are also much easier to edit on programs like Photoshop.
If you’re a keen hobbyist or someone interested in making money through photography, a DSLR camera is essential.
What to look for in a DSLR camera
With a DSLR camera you want to think about how the camera is likely to shoot, particularly how it will deal with different levels of light and blur (or noise) in your shots. Having an improved image sensor in the camera will make for cleaner shots.
You should also consider what lenses you can get, whether the camera comes with a variety bundled or if you have to buy them separately. Size is also a key point for a DSLR, you can buy seriously large cameras that take up a lot of space and are an effort to carry around, but there are also more portable DSLRs that might suit a more mobile photographer.
There are also plenty of other features to look out for, including filming in high definition or 4K, storage capacity, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and touchscreen modes. Some cameras also feature tutorials and step-by-step guides to show how to use them and their different features which can make for an easier user experience for beginners.
DSLR, Mirrorless and Point and Shoots: what’s the difference?
Mirrorless cameras have become more popular in recent years and are distinct from DSLRs. In a DSLR light is reflected into the viewfinder using a mirror, which then flips up when you click to shoot an image, emitting light onto the image sensor.
In a mirrorless camera you don’t use this system, but an electronic viewfinder instead, which some professionals aren’t as keen on. Because mirrorless cameras are less complex, however, they tend to be both lighter and less expensive. There just aren’t quite the same variety of lenses available as there are for a DSLR camera.
Point and shoots are simplest of digital cameras. Also known as compact cameras, these digital cameras usually come with a few more megapixels than a top-end smartphone but can’t be customised in the same manner a DSLR or mirrorless camera can.
You can find out more about how digital camera technology works here.
How much should I pay for a DSLR
The upper limit on DSLR cameras is scarily high – we’re talking thousands upon thousands. For a truly professional DSLR camera you will be looking to pay in excess of £1,000 but, as this list has shown you, you don’t have to remortgage the house to get your hands on some of the best.
For beginners it is relatively easy to pick up a powerful DSLR for no more than £500, but you will need to budget for any additional lenses that will add to the overall spend.
Alternatives: best Mirrorless cameras
Mirrorless cameras are fundamentally smaller and easier to transport than DSLRs, proving popular among those who want to shoot high-quality photos when the moment arises, rather than when they’ve packed a full camera kit. There are also many more players in the market, compared to Canon and Nikon’s monopoly of DSLRs, with brands like Sony, Fujifilm and Olympus selling some of the most powerful models.
Some of the best mirrorless cameras on the market include:
5. Olympus Pen E-PL9
You’d be right to judge this mirrorless camera by its cover; though it isn’t the most powerful digital camera on the market, the Olympus Pen E-PL9 has a lot going on underneath its eye-catching exterior. And it’s as easy to pick up in the hands of beginners as it is customisable for experienced photographers.
You can shoot everything from clean, perfectly-exposed portraits to high-quality 4K video at the click of a button and its flip-out touchscreen has made it a cult favourite among bloggers and vloggers, letting them manage their shots as they face the camera. With 16.1 megapixels and a 121-point autofocus, beginners couldn’t want for more.
6. Sony Alpha A7 III
£1,755, John Lewis
Enthusiasts and professionals rejoice – the Alpha A7 III has everything a photographer could ever want. Sony has actually distilled some of the best features from its fancy flagships (like the A7R III and A9) into this – cheaper, albeit still expensive – mirrorless camera.
With a 693-point 4D auto focus system, 10fps burst shooting, 4K HDR video recording, and an ISO range of 100 to 51,200, you couldn’t possibly get more from a 24.2 megapixel camera.
tips on how to buy camera gear for cheap
Buying good camera gear is expensive. But buying the latest and greatest is not necessary to get professional results. In this article I offer you 8 tips on how to save a ton of money by buying used stuff. Those tips are even more important if you plan to buy more expensive gear, because then you really don’t want to end up with something that is not working.
Tip 1: Don’t buy from professional photographers (if possible)
It is better to buy from someone who never really used their equipment. If you buy a DSLR it is important that the shutter count is low. After ca. 100.000 shutter releases the mirror mechanism usually can wear out and the camera cannot be used any more.
Professional photographers will use their gear a lot, carry it to many places and take great risks to get the picture, so their equipment will be somewhat worn out. Only benefit of buying from professional photographers is that they are more honest about the problems of their gear. (So don’t buy gear from me hehehe ?)
For example the guy I bought the Sony a5100 from was taking great care of his camera and was not using it much. So it was in perfect condition.
Tip 2: Buy from someone who gives their real name
This may be obvious but often you will find people not giving their full name when selling something (like “A.R.” as a name). Those people usually have something to hide, it is even possible that they sell stolen equipment. Google the person’s name.
Buy from someone who is a real person and has a street address if possible. Buy from someone who puts real pictures and not pictures from the catalogue. If this is not the case it is likely that the person sells broken or bad equipment and wants to avoid that you can get back to them if you realize afterwards.
Tip 3: Check the equipment and if everything is included
It is better to meet in person and check the equipment. For example when I buy a lens I usually use a strong led flashlight to check for scratches. I try it out. You usally meet in the evening after work and there might not be enough available light to check thoroughly if you don’t bring a light.
Note: I would not do it because there are usually alternatives but you can – if you want – buy a lens with minor scratches on the front element if you get a big discount. Usually it is not visible in the picture. Only if you make pictures against the light you might get strange effects because of the light getting reflected in the scratch. Never buy a camera with scratches on the sensor though!!!
Check if everything is included, for example when I bought the Sony 35mm lens I did not check if the lens hood was included. It was annoying because I had to buy a new one. Contacting the seller afterwards did not work (no answer). Ask for the bill, it is quite nice if the product is still under warranty. A bill is the proof that the seller is legit (see next tip).
Tip 4: Don’t buy from a dealer and ask for the reason a person sells
Some people make a business by buying used stuff and selling it for a higher price. You want to get the lowest price so buy things from the first owner. If people don’t state it in their post ask them why they sell. A good reason is that they don’t use this particular equipment a lot and want to get rid of it. This is perfect because you get something that is almost like new.
Tip 5: Negotiate the price
There are websites where you can find out the current price of a product (in Austria: geizhals.at). Usually people want to minimize their loss so they first try a higher price and if it does not work they go lower.
For example the guy I bought the a5100 from first tried to sell it for 300 Euros. It did not work so he put it for 200 Euros. I had to be quick to get it. If someone puts for example 250 you can still ask someone to round down the price. It almost always worked for me to get the price down at least a little bit.
Tip 6: Make the seller happy
Usually the seller wants to have a happy buyer (win-win-situation). So I always write in my message what I need the gear for. Then people are more willing to agree to a lower price because they know it is not a shady person who wants to sell their stuff again immediately. They see that it is someone who really needs it and puts it to good use.
Show commitment to buy it by offering a meeting time and place. You can get it before someone else if you are faster to meet – even for a lower price, if you show that you are a good person. To sum it up don’t buy from shady people but make clear that you are not a shady person yourself!
Tip 7: Go with a friend
If you are new to photography it might be a good idea to ask a good friend to come with you to see the equipment. That person then knows what to look for and what to test.
If you follow the tips above you will usually know if a person is a honest person or if it is someone who just wants to betray you. To reuse something instead of throwing it away is good for the environment anyways.
Tip 8: Choose the camera manufacturer wisely
This is a tough one: I went with Canon for my camera because it is most common and I can find more used lenses. New lenses are cheaper as well. Canon lenses are known for keeping their value over time.
Deciding between Canon, Nikon and Sony is almost like religion. Just be aware if you go with a camera system this will influence how much you pay for future upgrades. For some more “exotic” camera systems the choice of lenses will be much smaller and the prices much higher because of that.
New lenses for Nikon are usually more expensive than the Canon counterparts (at least on the low end). Sony lenses are usually overpriced and cheap lenses not as good as Canon lenses. Of course every system has advantages: Canon has good skin tones, Nikon better features and dynamic range (but greenish colors and not good for video), Sony is good for 4K video (until it overheats, with bad skintones). Also there is a big difference of size and weight between camera systems (DSLR vs. mirrorless). You have to decide what is important to you.
Bonus Tip: Buy in China
If you buy new camera equipment in China you can save a lot of money. I usually just buy below 20 Euros. Above 20 Euros you have to pay customs duty in Austria.
It is more difficult to send something back to China so by buying just cheap things I mitigate the risk that I don’t like what I have received. For example I bought small parts for my GoPro or Wind Muffs for my microphone in the 1-5 Euro range.