I often get emails from friends asking me what type of DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) Camera they should buy. There is so much information on the internet, but it is difficult to know what to trust. I hope this helps out anyone who is looking to upgrade from a compact camera to a DSLR.
In terms of DSLRs, I have only ever worked with Nikon and Canon. These are the two brands favoured by most Professional Photographers.
Personally, I prefer Canon. I think they are slightly ahead of Nikon, in terms of technology and quality. The camera body of a Canon tends to be heavier, which I actually prefer, for stability. I also think that Canon has a better range of accessories and lenses available.
I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II, and I find it to be amazing. My main lens is a Canon Zoom EF 24-105mm. This gives me freedom to shoot from wide angle, to closer up without changing lenses. I also use my Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens a lot (beautiful for low light and selective focus images), and have a Canon 70-200mm lens (for close-ups and to shoot from a distance).
The model of camera that you choose largely depends on how much you want to spend. Most DSLRs now have quite a generous number of Megapixels. 12 – 22MP is plenty for most people, unless you intend to be shooting billboards in the near future.
Think about how much you can afford to spend, what you want to use the camera for and how long you intend to keep that camera. Is it for a hobby or an investment? If you are fully committed to photography and are happy spending a bit more, go for the next model up. The worst thing is when you spend $1000 and in a few months, realise that you should have spent another $500 and bought a better model. As soon as you purchase a camera, the value drops because you can never sell it for as much as you initially paid.
The accessories you buy really depend on what type of photos you like to shoot. For a basic kit, I suggest a Canon body and good lens. Canon usually sells each level of camera with a basic lens, and you can pay a little more to upgrade to a professional lens. I definitely recommend upgrading the lens. Along with the quality of the sensor (the part of the camera which records the image), the quality of lens is extremely important, because this is essentially what the sensor “looks through”. I only ever buy Canon, rather than the cheaper, inferior brands.
Other accessories can be bought later, when you feel like experimenting a little, or you can bargain at the shop a little if you buy a whole lot of things at once. These might include:
• A tripod (buy a strong sturdy model. I always buy Manfrotto tripods)
• Flash (on camera flash can be used, but an additional flash will make photos look much more professional and flattering)
• Additional lenses (eg. for macro, sports, fine art photography)
• Filters – keep a UV filter on all of your lenses for protection. Other useful filters are Polarising filters, Neutral Density filters and Graduated filters.
• Extra Batteries
• Camera bag – make sure it seals perfectly to keep out all dust, dirt and moisture
• 8GB Compact Flash cards (CF cards)
Buying the Camera
In Australia, I buy my cameras from JB HiFi, because they always give me amazing discounts and it’s not hard to convince them to throw in some freebies like CF cards. Buy your camera from someone who will take the time to explain the features of a few different models, and let you play around with the camera and lenses before you buy. Think about extending the warranty when you buy the camera. The shop can usually organise this for you.
I hope this helps you. Please put a comment below or email me if you have any more questions.