Photography for beginners: Choosing your first DSLR camera – Part 2

In the first part of this article we have covered some fundamental things to consider when choosing your first DSLR. Let’s talk a some other things that you need to keep in mind.

Is brand important?

Not as important as some would have you think. Historically the most popular ones are Canon and Nikon (we listed them in alphabetical order, not giving any priority here at all). Olympus, Pentax and Sony are falling a bit behind (in popularity, not in quality). While some photographers continue the Nikon vs Canon holy war, our belief is that it’s not the point. Both companies produce excellent top quality products and some are very affordable. What has to be foremost in your mind is build quality. Any of the above brands provides that.

There are differences in available lens range as well as some technical particularities. Canon for example has lens focusing motor in each lens, while Nikon has it in the camera body. Is it good or bad? There is no precise answer to this. Historically Canon has more native lenses available, but third party lens manufacturers such as Sigma, Tokina and Tamron have now made it even. And to be honest some third party lenses are even better and cheaper than the native ones. We will get to this subject in a separate article.

In order to choose from approximately equal DSLRs we recommend putting your hands on each of those and listen to yourself. Feel how the camera is in your hand, as simple as that. After all it’s where it will be all the time. Browse through the menu, for now you don’t need to fully understand what exactly is displayed there – there will be a learning curve anyway. Just look at the screen and decide if it’s something that you want to look at from now on. Navigate here and there between basic settings that you are familiar with from your point-and-shoot camera. How intuitive the menu is or is not? As said, build quality between brands isn’t greatly different.

Also pay attention to other equipment price and availability –Canon and Nikon walk shoulder to shoulder in this field. Other brands have their particularities, so you may want to research side equipment question in a bit more detail if decide to go with those.

What about camera features?

All DSLRs come with all sorts of different modes and features. The set of shooting modes is pretty standard for all of them, while features and settings may vary. Some of the features seem to be included for no other reason than marketing of that particular model. We will be honest with you – some features you will never use until you become a professional photographer.

If you are eager to develop your skill we strongly recommend start using the Manual shooting mode – all DSLRs have it. It gives you full control over the image. However, nothing stops you from using your camera in any other mode to understand its “thinking”. You will then see what settings it has chosen to take an image, which is good learning material for you too.

Some other features, such as a built if flash, WiFi, GPS module or a remote release jack may be important, depending on the type of photography you want to do more. If you will be shooting portraits, a built in flash can be a huge help in lighting shadows. If you are interested in long exposure photography, you will need to set you camera up on a tripod and use a remote shutter release to avoid any camera micro-movements. You have to take all this into consideration.


Once you are happy with the features that the camera of your choice has to offer; the most important is to make sure that the camera is comfortable and easy to use for you. All the buttons have to be easy reachable, you shouldn’t be doing anything uncomfortable to change camera settings. You have to like your gear in the first place, sounds simple but it’s fundamental. If you use something that you like, you will avoid discomfort and distraction. And this will let you focus on the process that you should be focused at – shooting your photos.

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