Tips to Choose Your First DSLR Camera

Your first DSLR camera speaks a lot about the kind of photographer you are. The camera body, its weight, features and build quality everything crystallizes to form an opinion about your photography style, your seriousness in pursuing it as a vocation and your bank balance. There is no single important tip when you choose DSLR camera. You will need to consider several aspects. Here are a few tips on how to choose DSLR camera:

Sensor size

Sensor size does count as bigger the light gathering area more is the amount of light that can be collected (obviously). The two most popular sensor sizes are full-frame – which have the same image circle as of a 35mm film camera or 36x24mm and APS-C sensors which are either 23.6mm x 15.7mm (Nikon) or 22.2mm x 14.8mm (Canon).

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Nine out of ten DSLR buying guides will suggest megapixel don’t count. The fact is that they do, i.e., if you need a lot of detail. Fashion photography for instance is one area where a DSLR with high megapixel muscle is an absolute must. The Canon 5d Mark III with its 22.3 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor would be a perfect choice in such case. For some one with a deep reverence for Nikon and driven by a similar hunger for detail might opt for the 36.3 megapixel full-frame Nikon D800.

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Compatibility with lenses you need

Think of the availability of lenses for your particular make of DSLR before you purchase it. Not all the makes are supported by lens manufacturers and leading manufacturers such as Tokina, Tamron, Sigma will only make lenses for the best sold lens mounts. Thus when you’re about to choose DSLR ensure that it is compatible with the best lens range.

Most people will only ever own three to four lenses throughout their career. However it is not unheard of that a photographer went through several lenses (and other gear) before finally settling on a few. If you really want to explore what your DSLR camera is capable of ensure you choose one that has a popular mount. Some of the most popular lens mounts include Canon’s EF and EF-S mount, Nikon’s F mount (which has more than 400 Nikkor lenses compatible with it), Sony A mount etc.


Professional DSLRs can be heavy. E.g., the flagship Nikon D4 weighs 1180 gm minus lens. if you’re not the type who would prefer lug a heavy equipment around then the D4 is not your camera. You may opt for the D7100 instead that weighs a ‘comfortable’ 675 gm minus lens. Entry level DSLRs like the Canon Rebel T3i weighs a paltry 515 gm minus lens. These cameras are ideal for some one who has been shooting with a compact hitherto and is only now migrating to a DSLR.

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Form factor

The suitability of a particular form factor is heavily dependent on the individual preferences of a photographer. It is the same thing as the controls of a vehicle, you either like it or you don’t. The positioning of the buttons, dials, even the absence or abundance of them could put off somebody while exciting others. There is no way one could advice someone on which DSLR to choose based on just the form factor. Each photographer has to make the decision on his own by picking the camera up and trying a few things. One piece of suggestion on how to choose DSLR is that the size of the DSLR camera should be commensurate with the size of your hands. If you have big man-hands then a small DSLR camera would leave some fingers on your right hand dangling in the air. A large DSLR camera on the other hand would be inconvenient for some one with small hands.

Weather sealing

This is important if you predominantly shoot outdoors such as for journalistic pursuits or shooting wildlife or even sports photography. Cameras like the Pentax K5 is an excellent choice for both water and dust sealing. When you choose DSLR camera bodies pay attention so that the lens you buy also has weather sealing to complete the match.

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One memory card slots or two? CF cards or SD/SDHC/SDXC? Your choice of storage could influence your decision. Cameras like the D7100 comes with two card slots supporting SD cards. Others like the entry level Canon rebel series or the 60D comes with only one.


Lastly and probably the most important is the price factor. Most people go for a balance between what they feel are the absolutely must-have features in their DSLR camera and the price they are willing to spend or those features. The decision here lies solely with you. However one would safely conclude that unless you need a really huge amount of megapixel or the firepower of a 10-12 fps burst rate it is wiser to spend the extra money on better quality lenses.

Next photography lessons:

Photography basics 2: Understanding Camera Exposure

Photography basics 3: Understanding Camera ISO

Photography basics 4: How Does Your Camera Image Stabilizer Work?

Photography basics 5: Understanding White Balance

Photography basics 6: How Your Digital Camera Sensor Works

About Rajib Mukherjee

Rajib’s love for the road is second only to his love for photography. Wanderlust at heart and a shutterbug who loves to document his travels via his lenses; his two passions compliment each other perfectly. He has been writing for over 3 years now, which unsurprisingly, revolve mostly around his two favorite pursuits. He routinely punctuates his daily schedule by hitting the road.

View all posts by Rajib Mukherjee →

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