For professional photographers as well as advanced camera enthusiasts, digital single lens reflex cameras, or DSLR’s, are the best option for whatever type of photography that interests them. DSLR camera’s offer photographers several advantages over point-and-shoot digital cameras, including improved shooting speed, increased control over camera settings and superior image quality. DSLR cameras also allow a photographer to change lenses, making them far more versatile than any other type of consumer grade camera. Whether you are interested in artistic photography, wedding photography, portraits or landscapes, DSLR cameras are versatile enough to handle whatever kind of photos you are planning to take.
What Kind of Camera Buyer are You?
There are basically three different kinds of camera buyers. First there are professionals. They demand the highest performance and the best picture quality that they can get for their money. Their livelihood depends on having a reliable and versatile DSLR that will get the perfect shot every time. When they look for a camera, they go over all the specs and may even visit a dozen camera stores looking for the perfect fit. A professional like this will most likely invest in an industry leading DSLR like the Canon 5D Mark IV.
Next you have a group you may call the aspiring camera enthusiasts. These people love taking pictures of everything, all of the time. They take photos of their families and use the software that came with their camera to turn their family photos into Christmas cards that they have professionally printed. Or they take incredible nature shots that they have matted and framed and hung all around the house. These people are willing to spend a little more on a good quality DSLR, but they are probably not going to have a professional grade camera. Someone like this will find a DSLR like the Nikon D750 to be a great fit.
The last category, which most of us fall into, can be summed up with a single question — why bother with a DSLR when my iPhone takes such nice pictures? If you fall into that category — and you are certainly not alone — odds are that most DSLR cameras are just too much camera for you. However, there are some types of mirror-less interchangeable lens cameras, like the Sony Alpha NEX or the Nikon 1 J5 that will provide you with much better photos and movies than your phone will take and they will fit into most family budgets as well.
Is a DSLR Too Much for Camera?
A DSLR represents a serious investment for professional photographers as well as your average camera enthusiast. A DSLR with lenses, external flash and other accessories can run over a thousand dollars, and the top DSLR cameras, like the Canon 5D Mark IV may run you as much as $3,000. The good news is that there are plenty of good DSLR cameras geared toward the consumer market that offer a variety of automatic features for far less than $1,000, and the mirror-less DSLR cameras mentioned above, like the Sony Alpha NEX series and the Nikon J series, that offer beginners advanced features like interchangeable lenses, shutter speed priority, aperture priority and superior performance for as little as $500.
Odds are, if you are looking for a DSLR at all, you fall into the camera enthusiast category. Camera enthusiasts love to learn more about how they can use the settings on their camera to improve the pictures that they take. Point-and-shoot cameras simply do not have the versatility to manipulate settings like aperture, shutter speed and focal length in a meaningful way. If you are looking to take the next step in your photography, then one of these picks among the three best DSLR choices will be the perfect fit for you.
Choosing the Best DSLR for Your Needs
Canon 5D Mark IV
For years, the Canon 5D series have been the highest rated and most popular DSLR cameras among professional photographers due to their superior performance and incredible image quality. The latest in the Canon 5D line, the Canon 5D Mark IV is probably their most technologically advanced DSLR to date. Canon is on the cutting edge of digital image capture technology, pioneering CMOS sensors and incredibly fast imagine processing chips (in this case the DIGIC 6+ processor). It is this top-of-the-line DIGIC 6+ image processing chip that allows you to shoot an amazing 7 frames per second. No matter if you are shooting landscapes, portraits, sporting events or fireworks you will be able to get professional quality results from the Canon 5D Mark IV.
Another area in which Canon is an undisputed leader is in movie capture modes. DSLR cameras like the Canon 5D Mark IV offer an industry leading movie mode that produces such high-quality results that Saturday Night Live actually used an earlier version of the 5D to film a live sketch back in 2009. Reliable enough for network television, but easy enough for your average photography enthusiast to use.
Here are the specifications that put the 5D Mark IV at the top of the heap:
- 30 Megapixel max resolution
- Fully manual, allowing photographers complete control of image capture
- Continuous maximum frame rate of 7 frames per second (fps).
- Ridiculous ISO range of 50-102,400
- Patented dual pixel 61-point auto focus system
- Optical viewfinder
- Auto focus and face detection technology that works continuously whether you are taking photos or shooting movies
- WiFi connectivity for instant uploads to social media
Nikon has been a leader in lenses technology for nearly a century now, and it was Nikon that first solved the problem of marrying digital SLR focal length to image sensor size. Today, leading DSLR cameras, like the Nikon 750, have full size sensors. In the past, the image sensor, which is the electronic device that replaces the film in a digital camera, was smaller than a postage stamp, which is why digital camera image quality never quite matched 35mm. DSLR cameras with full sized sensors, like the Nikon D750 and superior Nikon lens technology give you the incredibly sharp and steady images that Nikon VR lens technology is famous for.
The Nikon D750 is the latest in the line of Nikon DSLR’s featuring full size image sensors and professional grade VR lenses that offer users incredible image quality. The one area where Nikon has made strides recently is in camera performance. The Nikon D750 shoots full resolution images at a rate of 6.5 frames per second, which is nearly as fast as the Canon 5D. This is a significant improvement over previous models.
Though the Nikon D750 costs nearly half as much as the Canon, it has specifications that are comparable in many ways, making it the perfect fit for many camera enthusiasts:
- 25 Megapixels max resolution
- Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm) FX Format CMOS image sensor
- Expeed 4 image processor
- ISO range 50 – 51,200
- Fully functional optical viewfinder
- 51 point auto focusing system with face detection technology
- WiFi connectivity allows instant upload of images to devices and social media sites
Sony Alpha 7R
Sony is a serious player in the DSLR market. Though Nikon and Canon have been in the high-end camera industry for longer, Sony is an elite consumer electronics company that has made a serious push into the DSLR market with the Alpha 7 series. The Sony Alpha 7R is at the high end of the same series of mirror-less DSLR cameras that brought us an entire line of Alpha NEX cameras that have revolutionized interchangeable lens cameras.
Unlike the Canon 5D or the Nikon D750, the Sony Alpha 7 and Alpha 7R cameras are fully functional full frame interchangeable lens cameras that are approximately the size of a point and shoot. Being mirror-less, the Sony Alpha line of cameras are not technically SLR (single lens reflex) cameras, but somehow Sony has been able to create reasonably sized interchangeable lens cameras will full frame sensors that can shoot amazing photos at a rate of 10 fps.
- 3 megapixel maximum resolution
- Full frame CMOS sensor
- Bionz X image processor
- Hybrid Auto Focus system with 117 detection points
- Sealed alloy and composite body
- Multi-Interface Shoe 3-inch tilting LCD
- HDMI output
- Wi-Fi capability and down-loadable apps
Choosing Your DSLR Camera
For most of us, budget is the main limiting factor when it comes to buying a DSLR camera. While many camera enthusiasts would like to jump up to the latest version of the Canon 5D, it must be realized that there are many good DSLR cameras available for about half the price. However, if price is not an issue, the Canon 5D Mark IV would be well worth the investment.
If you are thinking of scaling down, the are many options available to you. DSLR cameras like the Nikon D750 offer you competitive functionality and comparable picture quality for almost half as much as you would spend on the Canon 5D. For most camera enthusiasts, Nikon DSLR cameras like the D750, with their sharp, VR (vibration reduction) lenses are the perfect solution to the features vs. cost dilemma.
For those of us who are looking for an interchangeable lens camera that is smaller and easier carry, then a mirror-less DSLR like those in the Sony Alpha 7 series may be the perfect solution. One trend among professionals is having a scaled down, mirror-less interchangeable lens camera on-hand because they are easy to carry and provide them with image quality and functionality that is comparable to their high end DSLR.
Whether you are a professional photographer, a camera enthusiast, or a beginner looking for a camera that can take far better pictures and videos than your phone, you are sure to find one of these DSLR cameras, or a similar model in another price range, that will provide you with the image quality and functionality that you want for a price that will work for your budget.