Five practical tips in buying your first DSLR camera for newbies

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Author: David Tong

I am a newbie purchasing a DSLR camera, which one should I choose?

This is the most frequent question asked by people wanting to move up from their small digital cameras to a digital SLR camera.

Stick To Your Budget

Be truthful with the amount you can afford to pay. For practically anyone, a basic DSLR camera package marketed by major manufacturers will be more than adequate. A modern day camera body with all the factory extras and a functional zoom lens will definitely be more than ample for most picture taking situations.

Nikon D5300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S DX NIKKOR Zoom Lens (Black)
Nikon D5300 DSLR

Specify your budget limitation and you can remove off all other products you can't afford.

A few might encourage to budget for extra lenses, flashes, and upgraded extras. Whilst these are well-meant advice, you really should focus your original budget to buy the camera and lens only as they're the essential pieces to get your photographic journey started.

Look at Availability of Lenses and Accessories

One of the main benefits of selecting a DSLR is the capability to swap lenses and add more equipment as your capabilities and preferences develop. There are 100s of lenses, flash guns, and other extras to pick but quite often, these accessories are manufacturer-specific. For example, a lens produced for a Canon is not going to fit an Olympus DSLR. 

Canon Rebel T5i Digital SLR Camera and 18-55mm EF-S IS STM Lens Kit
Canon 700D / T5i DSLR

Even though all companies have their own lenses and accessories, the two major brands - Canon and Nikon, offers you more in-house products and even more significant third-party offerings compared to the other brand names. This does NOT imply that brands such as Pentax, Sony, and Olympus are second-rate, they are definitely not. Having said that, trying to find retailers that carry competitive prices for these brands will prove to be more difficult than the ones of Nikon and Canon.

Once again, there's absolutely nothing wrong with obtaining a non-Nikon/Canon brand, simply be prepared to either spend more or spend more effort locating the items compared to Nikon/Canon.

Pentax K-3 lens kit w/ 18-135mm WR 24MP SLR Camera with 3.2-Inch TFT LCD and 18-135mm WR f 3.5-5.6 (Black)
Pentax K3 DSLR

Determine Your Requirements

Granted that you will likely not identify the particular type of photography you'll eventually dwell into, you ought to still know the basic reason for your camera purchase for instance:

  • Regularity of Use - How often will you take the camera with you? If you think it is frustrating to bring a large camera, then don't buy a DSLR. If you're planning to bring the camera to your trips at all times, then a more compact, lighter camera would make a lot more sense.

  • Bulk - If you're the type who isn't going to mind taking a bag of some sort often, then a DSLR's increased bulk shouldn't be that big of a deal. However, if you have large hands and small cameras have small grips, then that's clearly not a good mix.

  • Common Subject(s) - While you probably haven't finalized a style to concentrate on, you most likely have a valid reason why you wish to upgrade to a DSLR camera. Are you considering to utilize that brand new camera to photograph your children? Your precious dog, maybe? Shooting for your on-line shopping web-site?

    All DSLRs are competent of shooting these subjects, yet identifying your most common area of interest will narrow down your model choices even more.

Olympus Mirror-less Slr Om-d E-m1 12-40mm F2.8 Lens Kit Black Dust Drip Om-d E-m1 12-40mmf2.8lkit
Olympus OM-D E-M1 MILC

Determine What Your Friends and Family Already Own

The advantage of figuring out what your friends and family use would be the likelihood to try the equipment that you're planning to acquire.

Purchase and Forget

When you've finally acquired your first DSLR camera, you're done shopping, stop comparing now!

STOP making comparisons with your camera with newer models as these are merely consumer electronic items and a new one will always come out within 12-18 months.

STOP COMPARING your camera with other folks' cameras.

PRACTICE WITH the camera you acquired, find out how to shoot, maximize the camera's functions.

Sony a7R Full-Frame 36.3 MP Interchangeable Digital Lens Camera - Body Only

Follow these straight-forward, common sense tips and you will be enjoying your first digital SLR camera right away.

About the Author

If you want to know more about practical and simple photography tips, as well as how to use your camera flash properly, visit David's main photography blog - iPhotoCourse (

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