Tell anyone in a camera store that you’re “just starting out” with DSLR photography, and you will probably be considered a gullible buyer who can be lured into buying the leftovers of last year’s entry-level stock. While there may be nothing wrong with the entry-level DSLRs from previous years (provided they come from a good brand like Nikon or Canon), there is a vital difference between “entry-level” and a camera you’d be comfortable with as a beginner. This is because a camera must have certain basic features in order to be considered one of the ideal DSLR cameras for beginners. Let’s take a quick look at these:
Large Sensor Size
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Professional photographers know that the megapixel battles raging in the point-and-shoot segment are essentially a result of aggressive marketing. Instead, they choose to focus on the sensor size, which decides the amount of detail that would be captured by the sensor. While professionals can tweak settings to achieve beautiful images even when the sensor is not great, beginners need to have a decent sensor size in order to fully appreciate the merits of a DSLR.
Burst Mode and Shutter Speed
Unless you have a lot of experience, it is unlikely that you would be able to capture that one special moment with just one click. Chances are that you’d have to shoot a dozen images and then sift through them to find the one that truly captured the moment. If such moments involve sports, wildlife or even your child’s antics, the time difference between individual shots needs to be of the order of microseconds. “Burst mode” allows you to shoot 4,6,10 or 12 images in such rapid succession. Shutter speed, on the other hand, decides how fast each image would be captured. Hence, you should look for cameras with shutter speeds of between 1/500 sec to 1/1000 sec and burst modes that allow at least 12 photos to be taken at one time.
Optical Image Stabilization (OIS)
Important for all categories of photographers but vital for those clicking in low light conditions or shooting fast-moving objects/people, optical image stabilization essentially reduces blurring in the photo. While optical image stabilization is achieved through a variety of means, each should be able to ensure that regardless of whether your hand shook or the subject whizzed past, your photo would be able to display the subject with the clarity obtained when clicking still subjects.
The alternative to OIS is to use a tripod or other stabilizing apparatus. Since many folks starting out with DSLRs prefer not to invest in any but the most necessary of accessories, it is always better to depend upon OIS than any stationary camera-holding surface/stand.
Battery and Comfort
No matter how good the DSLR cameras for beginners are, it is important to remember that they can only prove their worth if they have enough battery juice. Whether your DSLR supports pencil batteries or a Li-ion slab, ensure from the DSLR camera reviews that these are capable of providing at least one day’s worth of service before requiring a recharge/replacement.
Last but not least, it cannot be denied that DSLRs are heavier and bulkier than other cameras. As such, a good shoulder strap and adequate arm support are vital if you intend to carry and use the camera for any amount of time. While most manufacturers keep this in mind, it is still ideal to “try out” the camera for an extended period of time the following purchase so you can be sure that it is the right fit for your hands, eyes, and shoulders.
While the need for a good battery or a comfortable strap may seem like a no-brainer, others like OIS or sensor size may appear somewhat technical and confusing. The good news is that all of this information is readily available in the product details and DSLR camera reviews. Based on this data and the type of photography you intend to undertake, you can create a checklist of features that DSLR cameras for beginners must have. Once this list is ready, deciding which camera to purchase will become a lot easier!