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Maybe you want to take high-quality still pictures or videos of fast-moving events. Or perhaps images of landscapes or wildlife that you don’t see every day. For purposes such as these, the camera in your smartphone or a simple compact camera (also known as a “point-and-shoot” camera, due to its simplicity) isn’t going to cut it. To capture events when you know you won’t get a second chance, you’ll need the services of a DSLR (= digital single-lens reflex) camera.
DSLR cameras allow you to attach interchangeable lenses, such as a wide-angle lens, a telephoto lens, or a fish-eye lens. And DSLR cameras nowadays have very powerful sensors and fast shutter speeds to allow you to capture shots even in limited light. They can also allow you to engage in time-lapse photography or even astrophotography at night.
We’ll study a few of the features and specs of some of the best DSLR cameras on the market. The information will help you decide whether a DSLR camera is worth the investment!
We can distinguish between different DSLR cameras by the sensor that they employ. The image sensor is what captures the light reflecting off of the subject that you are photographing. The sensor converts the light into an electronic image. In many ways, the sensor size is what determines your camera’s resolution, not just the number of megapixels that it can capture. There are four sensors employed in DSLR cameras:
Full-frame sensor: This sensor has a frame size of 36 mm x 24 mm. Since the sensor is the true measure of a camera’s resolution, you can expect full-frame cameras with the largest and most advanced sensors to be the most expensive models on the market. An example of a full-frame camera is the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame DSLR Camera ("EOS" stands for "Electro-Optical System", and is a line of Canon cameras.)
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame DSLR Camera
APS sensors: “APS” stands for “active-pixel sensor”, which has light detectors and electronics to actively amplify the light reaching the sensor. DSLR cameras can employ two different types of APS sensors:
APS-H: This was used in earlier versions of digital cameras, with a sensor size of 27.9 mm x 18.6 mm. Camera manufacturer Canon used this option because it was cheaper than a full-frame sensor, and produced an image that could be processed more quickly. An example is the Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR Camera.
Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR Camera
APS-C: These have an even smaller sensor than the APS-H, at 23.6 mm x 15.8 mm. Although the smaller size reduces the image quality, it allowed Canon to produce more affordable cameras. An example is the Canon EOS 850D Rebel T8i DSLR Camera.
Canon EOS 850D Rebel T8i DSLR Camera
Four-thirds system sensors: This sensor is so named because it was used for 4/3”-diameter video camera vacuum tubes. In practice, a 4/3” sensor is even smaller than the APS-C camera, at 18 mm x 13.5 mm.
We went over some customers’ impressions of the DSLR camera that they bought:
Transferring images: DSLR cameras nowadays will have features such as Bluetooth, WiFi, and a USB port to allow you to transfer pictures to your computer. Some will have an HDMI port, so you can transfer them to a big screen for viewing. There are also options for using your DSLR camera as a webcam, so that you can take high-quality videos for vlogging purposes!
DSLR for beginners: You’ll see DSLR cameras that cost $2000 or more, which are clearly for a professional photographer’s budget. But, a good, affordable entry-level camera is the Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR Camera. A customer said that the automatic presets were adequate at first until they learned how to adjust the settings manually. Now they can utilize the full power of an APS-H camera!
Here are some features that are worth looking for when selecting a DSLR camera:
Resolution: You’ll see that cameras specify the number of megapixels of resolution of their images. For example, the Pentax K-1 Mark II Full Frame DSLR Camera has a 36-megapixel resolution. But you also want the individual pixels to be small so that the picture will have greater detail. The Pentax is a full-frame camera, meaning that the sensor is very large, so it can make full use of all of those 36 million pixels!
Vary-angle touch screen: Most DSLR cameras will have an optical viewfinder. It shows you a scene of the picture you’re about to take, but it can add a grid, exposure information, and autofocus points, for greater precision in your shot. But, many cameras will also have a touch-screen for the controls, which can be flipped out to view the scene. That’s called a “vary-angle touch screen” since you can tilt the touch screen for a better view. What you see on the touch-screen will be a more accurate portrayal of the final picture. One camera with a vary-angle touch-screen is the Canon EOS 6D Mark II Digital SLR camera.
Canon EOS 6D Mark II Digital SLR camera
Autofocus: Many cameras will have both manual and automatic autofocus. For example, the Canon EOS REBEL SL3 Digital SLR Camera has a 9-point autofocus. More autofocus points will allow you to keep your subject in focus, even if it’s moving. This is because at least one of the autofocus points will still remain on your subject. So, more autofocus points are a desirable spec. Some cameras have dual-pixel autofocus, or “DPAF”, which means that every pixel of the image is captured twice by two separate photodiodes. This creates an image with a more accurate focus.
ISO of a camera: “ISO” stands for “International Organization for Standardization”. It’s a number that indicates the sensitivity of your camera to light. A camera with a low ISO will require more light exposure or will be best where you have a lot of ambient light. On the other hand, a camera with a high ISO will be able to capture a picture even in a scene with low light, or if you use a fast shutter speed.
Compatible lenses: Most of the items in the Best Reviews Guide list of DSLR cameras are just the camera body, although you can also choose an option to buy matching lenses. (While the camera body decides the autofocus precision and speed, the lenses will determine the depth of field and the appearance of the background. So, in many ways, the lenses are just as important as the camera body.) For example, you can buy the Nikon D780 along with a Nikkor 24-120 mm lens with extra-low dispersion glass, vibration reduction, and image stabilization.
Nikon D780 with a Nikkor 24-120 mm lens
We went through some of the differences between the various DSLR cameras on the market. You notice a wide fluctuation in prices, as well as features, of the different camera bodies. When you want superior image quality and resolution, a DSLR camera is your address. Once you overcome the learning curve with all of its features, you’re sure to enjoy the results that you can achieve!