You're thinking of buying an SLR (single lens reflex) camera, but you're not sure which model to choose. Don't worry, you're not the first person to face such a dilemma. When buying one of these cameras it is important to do your research as this is a choice for life. To make this process easier, we have prepared this complete shopping guide for you.
Here you can learn about the most important aspects of the exciting world of SLR cameras. With this guide you will discover all the advantages they offer and, of course, the disadvantages. Additionally, we will provide you with a series of purchase criteria so that you can make a confident decision with as much information as possible.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Key Facts
- 3 The best SLR cameras
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about SLR cameras
- 4.1 What are SLR cameras exactly?
- 4.2 How does a reflex camera work?
- 4.3 What are the advantages of SLR cameras?
- 4.4 What are the disadvantages of reflex cameras?
- 4.5 Is it worth buying a reflex camera?
- 4.6 Who should buy a reflex camera?
- 4.7 What is the importance of a reflex camera lens?
- 4.8 What modes does a an SLR have available?
- 4.9 What types of stabilisers do SLRs use?
- 4.10 What accessories are needed for a reflex camera?
- 4.11 What care do reflex cameras require?
- 5 Shopping Criteria
- 6 Summary
- SLR, or 'reflex' cameras, allow you to take higher quality photographs than compact digital cameras, as they offer better control over the different parameters that can be configured when capturing an image. However, as they are much more technical and specialised, their price is also higher.
- Given their superb performance, these cameras are ideal both for photography enthusiasts with advanced knowledge and for those who would like to get started in the professional photography industry.
- Equally or more important than the body of the camera is the lens you select. Often, the lens that comes standard with the camera is an entry-level piece of equipment, so over time it's a good idea to buy a better one.
The best SLR cameras
In the following section we present to you the ranking that we have prepared with the best reflex cameras currently available on the market. We have prepared this list by trying to include the most varied products available, but always choosing products that offer very good value for money.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about SLR cameras
When buying a reflex camera, it is essential that you consider a number of important aspects before making the purchase. Don't forget that there are different models of SLR and that each one is designed for a different use. With this in mind, we will attempt to answer the most common questions among buyers so that you are well informed prior to making the purchase.
What are SLR cameras exactly?
Reflex cameras are specifically categorised because they have a mirror that reflects (hence the name) the light that enters through the lens and transmits it to the optical viewfinder through a prism. The main advantage of reflex cameras is that what you see is through the viewfinder is exactly what will appear in the photograph. In addition, the advantaged technology they use also makes it possible to capture higher quality images than a simple digital camera or mobile phone camera.
How does a reflex camera work?
When the picture is taken the mirror is quickly moved to a horizontal position to allow the light to pass to the sensor. When this occurs, the lens diaphragm is closed and the shutter is opened to allow the sensor to be exposed to light. The shutter then closes, the diaphragm reopens, and the mirror returns to its initial position. The result is usually a high quality photo that is displayed on the screen of the camera.
What are the advantages of SLR cameras?
Reflex cameras also allow you to set parameters manually, giving you more control over things like shutter speed, aperture, ISO and white balance. They also allow you to reduce the 'noise' when taking pictures in low-light conditions. The final advantage is they are usually ergonomically designed.
What are the disadvantages of reflex cameras?
Is it worth buying a reflex camera?
Who should buy a reflex camera?
What is the importance of a reflex camera lens?
With all this in mind, it is no wonder that the lens is a key element when taking photographs. This is why it's best to choose a good quality lens. Keep in mind that most lenses that are included with the camera are usually quite basic or entry-level.
What modes does a an SLR have available?
The manual or semi-manual modes are for full control of the camera. Of course, they are also the most complicated to use but can potentially provide you with the best quality photos. In order to use these modes correctly, it is necessary to master at least some basic photography concepts. Remember that it is in manual mode that you can capture the most impressive photos.
What types of stabilisers do SLRs use?
During these situations, if the camera does not have correct image stabilisation, the image may be blurry or distorted. To correct this from happening, SLR cameras can feature one of two image stabilisation systems: the optical stabiliser or the mechanical stabiliser. The following table explains each system further:
|Optical stabiliser||Mechanical stabiliser|
|Uses||This is usually used by Nikon, Canon, Panasonic and Leica.||It has been adopted by camera manufacturers such as Olympus and Sony, among others.|
|Description||Consists of a displacement system located within the lens. These lenses detect and correct camera movements automatically.||Image stabilisation is achieved through the adjustment of the image sensor.|
|Advantage||Offers the advantage of being specifically tailored for each lens, although you will need a seperate stabiliser for each lens.||Since stabilisation takes place in the camera body, the camera remains stable regardless of which lens is being used.|
|Performance||Usually offers higher performance.||Overall, the performance is slightly lower.|
What accessories are needed for a reflex camera?
Among the first, there are the memory cards and, of course, a good lens to replace the one that comes with the camera. After these two purchases, other accessories you should consider are tripods, external flashes, filters, extra batteries and even external/remote triggers.
What care do reflex cameras require?
When owning a camera of this type for a long period of time, it is often necessary to clean the reflex camera sensor. This can be done by a trained service technician or by yourself. If you plan on cleaning it yourself, you should take special care to ensure that you do not to damage the equipment. The final special care requirement of reflex camera is the battery. If you know that you are not going to use the camera for a while, it is better to remove the battery.
When it comes time to purchase your new reflex camera, it is important that you consider a number of purchase criteria. The following criteria will help you in the selection process, so that you can make a confident decision. We also hope that this criteria will serve as a guide for you to find the perfect quality-price ratio of your purchase.
- Sensitivity (ISO)
- Viewfinder and screen
- Video Recording
There is no doubt that the intended use of the camera is the first criterion you should consider carefully. Similarly, it is important to consider whether you actually need a SLR camera. If you think that you are simply going to use it in automatic mode and mainly to keep some souvenir photos of your holidays, you might be interested in a simple digital camera or polaroid camera.
If you are buying a reflex camera to join the world of photography, it is important that you choose a camera that is specially designed for beginners. However, if you are an experienced photographer then you probably need it for professional use, so you'll be looking for a camera with a lot better performance and control.
Somehow, the sensor is the heart and soul of a camera, as it is the part that is responsible for capturing light. In the case of a sensor, size is a fundamental aspect. The larger the sensor, the more information it will receive and you will be able to capture a higher quality image. Keep this in mind as it is a very important aspect.
Currently, most SLR cameras include an APS-C sensor, mainly used by Canon, Nikon and Sony, or the 4/3 sensor, used by Olympus, Panasonic, Leica and Kodak. However, some cameras have the full-frame (35mm) sensor. The full-frame is a larger sensor and is usually available in professional photography equipment.
When talking about the resolution of cameras, you often think about megapixels. In general, the more megapixels, the higher the resolution and the more details the image will have. However, the quality of the image does not depend solely on the megapixels. As previously explained, the size of the sensor is equally, if not more, important.
A camera with a larger sensor will offer a larger area per pixel and therefore more quality and sensitivity. In any case, you should also keep in mind that a picture with more megapixels will take up more size in terms of storage. This will require a storage card with more space and more room on your computer for storing all your images.
The ISO value of a camera indicates the sensitivity of the sensor to light. If the camera sensor has a high value, around 3,200, you can take photos in low-light conditions. On the other hand, a lower ISO value, around 100, is suitable for taking pictures in good lighting conditions.
However, a very high ISO value leads to much more 'noise' in the image, as more light enters the lens. As a result, you need to know how to use a camera with a high ISO value in order to capture quality images. Generally speaking, with a wider ISO range you will be able to capture images in a wider range of lighting conditions.
Viewfinder and screen
Through the viewfinder of the camera you can see the photograph before capturing the image, hence it is vitally important. An optical viewfinder will allow you to see what you are going to photograph thanks to a system of mirrors that reflect the image into the viewfinder. A screen or electronic viewfinder will show you the image on an LCD or OLED screen.
Not all viewfinders are the same. There is actually a big difference between those available. The size and clarity of the image seen through the viewfinder can vary greatly depending on the model. That's why it's a good idea to try out a few different options before choosing the camera you're going to buy. Ultimately, the viewfinder will have a fundamental influence on the images you capture.
It is increasingly common for SLRs to have the ability to record video in high definition. This extra feature is never unnecessary. If the camera you are going to purchase has video recording, you should check what resolution it uses: HD, Full HD or 4K. Our advice is to chose a camera with recoding abilities of at least Full HD.
The best known brands of reflex cameras are Canon and Nikon. Besides these two superpowers, Sony and Kodak are also quite prestigious manufacturers and offer high quality cameras. Remember that once you choose a brand of camera, you will most likely be linked to this brand for life.
We say this because the accessories you buy, such as the expensive lenses or tripod, are usually only compatible with that brand. Although, as in almost everything in life, there are exceptions. Brands like Sigma or Tamron have lenses that are compatible with Canon and Nikon equipment, but they have a lower price.
With reflex cameras it is possible to take higher quality photographs if you have little know-how. These cameras offer a high degree of control over the various parameters when capturing an image. This is a significant advantage because it means that they are not as accessible to the general public or as easy to use as compact cameras.
However choosing the right SLR is not an easy task. Aspects such as the intended use, the manufacturer, the sensor, resolution and ISO sensitivity need to be taken into account and assessed carefully. To make it easier for you, throughout this guide we have made a detailed analysis of each aspect. With this, you can make a confident decision when buying your new SLR camera.
Finally, if you think that this article has been useful to you in your selection process, you can leave us a comment or share it through the different social networks.
(Source of featured image: Bartolomiej Pietrzyk: 102106313/ 123rf.com)