Free online digital slr tips, photography tutorials, camera techniques.
Alright, so you've decided that you want a new camera, and this time, you're looking for something that will deliver excellent picture quality and will still be quite affordable. Naturally, you want this new camera to be a digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera. Well, there are a lot of things that should go into into buying a new digital SLR, and hopefully this article can clear up any misconceptions that you have as well as inform you on how you should look for that new SLR of yours.

Do You Really Need an SLR?
First and foremost, the question that you should be asking yourself is do you really need or even want a digital SLR? They're big, won't fit in your pocket, and work quite a bit differently than a traditional digital point and shoot. If your answer is yes, then you'll definitely need to spend some time with it and learn the ins and outs of using a dSLR.

Digital SLRs are quite a bit different than traditional digital cameras. For example, you have to look through the viewfinder in order to compose your picture (with a few awkward exceptions). In other words, the LCD on the back is ONLY for reviewing pictures and using the menu. Another difference is that it can be a lot more complicated and require more thought to use a dSLR. With the plethora of options available, some users can get easily confused or accidentally change a setting and not know how to change it back.

The advantages, however, are significant. Autofocus is much faster and SLR lenses are mechanical, so you get instant feedback on your zoom and focus operations. Also, more advanced users will be able to quickly change settings with ease and there are many different lenses to choose from for specialized tasks.

One word of caution though: getting a better or more expensive camera doesn't guarantee that you'll be taking better pictures instantly. Taking better pictures comes with practice and developing an eye for interesting elements and compositions. There are plenty of professional photographers out there who use point and shoot digital cameras to get their shots.

Summary: Carefully consider the pros and cons of getting a digital SLR before you go ahead and purchase one. Also, think about whether you really need one or not; remember, getting a better camera will not guarantee you better pictures.

Buy the System, Not the Camera
When you go shopping for a digital SLR, you are shopping for a camera system, not just a camera. Your decision now will most likely affect what you will be buying 20 years from now if you are still doing photography. When you're out there shopping for a camera, do some research on the brand's lenses, flash units, etc. It can be a little daunting at first, but a little research will get you a long way. Fortunately though, no matter what camera or system you choose, there will always be quality cameras and lenses available.

Because digital cameras have such similar picture quality (especially when you print out the pictures at the standard 4x6 inch size), don't buy a camera based on megapixel count (see The Megapixel Myth). Instead, you'll want to buy whatever camera feels the best in your hand and feels the most natural to access different functions such as white balance and ISO.

Summary: Buy what feels best to you, not what camera has the best specs.

What Brand Should I Buy?
So there are quite a few camera brands out there, but which one is the best? Well, again, choose whatever camera feels comfortable in your hands and will give you the easiest access to various controls.

If you want an actual recommendation, then I'll tell you for a fact that you can't go wrong with either Canon or Nikon, the two biggest SLR manufacturers. On the other hand, other companies such as Sony or Pentax offer cameras with in-camera image stabilization and various other things to boot. What it boils down to though, is still how the camera feels in your hands, so stop by your local camera retailer and check out the different brands. Play around with them, and see what you think works best for you.

Summary: Again, choose by what you feel is comfortable and makes the most sense.

When you buy a digital SLR, you'll most likely start off with a lens that comes with the camera body. This lens is more often than not quite a cheap and low-quality lens. Regardless, it will blow most of your point and shoots out of the water. Let me state this now, the quality of your image depends more on your lens than your camera body so therefore when it comes time to upgrade, save up for a new lens because buying a new camera body more often than not will not give you any better pictures.

Summary: Invest money on better lenses, not a better body.

Buy Used?
A digital SLR is a huge investment for many people and most people won't be making any money back, so sometimes its tough to justify a few hundred dollars on a new camera. You can save quite a good chunk of change from buying used and you can save a bigger chunk of change buying used on the Internet either via eBay or some other retailer. But the question is, should you buy used? For me, I use my equipment as a picture-making tool. That's right, it's a tool. Some people baby their cameras and wipe off every speck of dust on its body, but I think that cameras are a means to an end and thus deserve to be used and used and used. Therefore, buying used for me is like buying a new camera and using it for a week. So I guess the question is, should you buy a used camera? I only buy my equipment used and I've never had any problems.

Summary: Buying used will save you money.

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