How should my first DSLR be?

Have you recently asked your gear-geek friend this question?

There are so many characteristics that can make you buy a specific DSLR model. Depending on how “professionally” you will use your new camera, more details will definitely matter for you. However, there are some basic features you should have a general knowledge about before buying your first DSLR camera. Check these 7+1 pieces of information below!


ISO is like the glasses of photography that make you see better in dark; the higher the ISO, the stronger the glasses. In both cases there is a cost and in photography it’s called “noise”. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to have the chance for a bigger ISO choice! Find a camera with minimum ISO 6400 and have in mind that normally you have the choice to extend it.


There are two types of sensors on DSLRs: CCD and CMOS. The first one produces photos of better quality with larger number of pixels and less noise, although it uses a lot more power. On the other hand, CMOS is cheaper and preserves the battery life, but its photos’ quality is lower and noise is more common. Of course you are not going to look for a camera based on its sensor, but it’s good to know about the two different types.


This might be the biggest myth around photography equipment. Comparing cameras by their number of megapixels is not representative, since what matters is the sensor size. DSLR cameras have bigger sensors than the point and shoot ones for example, which means their photo quality will be better even if they have the same megapixels value.

Weight & Screen

Usually the physical characteristics are not of high priority, but sometimes they are still important. Everyone wants to hold a light DSLR body, since adding the lens directly means adding more weight, you should have a second though about giving attention to its weight.

However, if the screen will be touch or articulated is not very high on the list – even though the last characteristic can let you take shots from more “weird” angles. Depending on the use of your new gear, set the priority of this extra little detail. 

Flash Options

The build-in flash is found in all DSLR models nowadays. What you should check is the range it covers, while using it. A “hot shoe” on your camera gives you the option to connect a remote or not external flash, for better results. Besides, photography is all about light and perspective.

Storage & Connectivity

SD/SDHC card is the standard storage type for a DSLR camera. Connectivity with a device through cable is also offered as an option for viewing photos and videos on another screen or just transferring them on a different device.

Yet, for the more demanding and the impatient ones, the quicker way of accessing your photos and videos is using Wi-Fi. Of course for now that’s a “luxury”, since not all DSLR bodies accommodate it and especially the entry level ones. 

Other Specifications

When looking at the specifications of a DSLR model you can find a lot of details. Some of them shouldn’t affect you since many models have similar functionality about specific features. Here are some of the characteristics and numbers you should pay attention to:

  • Frame rate, expressing the speed of video/continuous shooting (fps, frames per second)
  • Auto focus choices, number of focus points and related assistance
  • Stereo microphone, for stereo sound in videos
  • Shutter speed range, minimum is usually 1/4000 sec
  • Movie size, usual maximum dimensions are 1920 x 1080

Some extra features available are the following:

  • RAW+JPEG simultaneous recording
  • Sensor cleaning/dust removal functionality
  • Image stabilization

Last Piece of Advice

After doing a market research you will come across with the phrase “kit lens”. That’s the lens you can get while buying a DSLR body. Apart from the features of the latter, you should also choose a smart kit and leave the standard 18-55mm lens behind. Choose a different kit lens if you have a choice – one with bigger zoom or two different kit lenses as a package, as it will be cheaper than if you buy the lens on its own. 

Hopefully, now you are a little bit wiser about the DSLR features that are around and what you should have in mind. So, make the best choice for you and let the shooting begin!

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