Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Choosing your first SLR

Following my last post on a compact vs. an SLR; this post will help you choose your first - that is - if you have decided an SLR is right for you.

I will follow up with another post for all those who have opted for a point and shoot camera, with some tips on how to choose which model suits your needs.

So you've decided you want to buy yourself an SLR. Before your excitement and fervor explodes through the roof, and you run out and buy the first SLR you can get your hands on, sit down and have a good long think. Unlike a simple compact camera, SLRs are a different breed, so before you commit yourself and splash out the cash do your homework!

SLRs come with a price tag, and how much you would like to spend is the first question you should ask yourself. Also keep in mind that after a couple of months you will also be looking into upgrading the kit lens that comes with your camera, and you need a variety of accessories such as filters, a camera bag, lens hoods, a spare battery etc.
Canon's entry level SLRs start from 460 Euros including a standard 18-55mm kit lens, whilst the semi-pro models start from 1,100 Euros including the standard 18-55mm kit lens.

What do you need your camera for?
The next step is to narrow down your options by thinking about what you will be using your camera for. If you will be using it for general shooting, such as the outdoors, family events and outings, and travel memoirs, an entry-level model such as the EOS 1000D or the EOS 550D is sufficient.
Shooting subjects at high speed, such as sports or action photography will require a very fast camera with a high frame rate, whilst if you will be shooting in low light you will need a camera with the best possible high ISO performance.

Canon EOS 60D - 5.3 fps (frames per second); maximum ISO 12800
Canon EOS 7D - 8 fps; maximum ISO 12800
Canon EOS 5D II - 3.9fps; maximum ISO 25600
Canon EOS 1D IV - 10fps; maximum ISO 25600

Size and weight
SLRs are bulkier and heavier than their compact counterparts, however there is a difference between the different SLR models too. If you want a light SLR, I suggest you go for the entry level models.

Sensor size
Something else to consider is the size of the sensor. The terms 'crop sensor' and 'full frame' come up when one talks about image sensor size - I will elaborate on this in another post as it is a bit too complicated for the scope of this one. In general, full frame sensors really shine when it comes to image quality and high ISO performance, however their downside is they cost quite a bit.

Whilst entry-level models are much easier on the pocket, they do tend to date quicker than the more expensive pro models. Do you see yourself grasping photography and wanting to upgrade to a better model with more features? This may be hard to answer, but it does pay better in the long run to invest in a little more into a model you can grow into.

Other features you might like
Vari-angle LCD: easy shooting from high or low angles, available in the EOS 60D
Auto mode & scene modes: if you enjoy your easy and lazy 'auto' button on your compact and/or want an array of shooting modes, such as portrait, sports, night, macro etc, aim for a 1000D, 550D, or 60D, as the higher end models do not have them.

With so many points to consider, the most important thing is that you decide what you want from your camera. Make a list of all the features which are important to you and gradually start pinpointing at the models which interest you. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to post them here, we will be more than happy to help!


  1. Money.. that's the only problem :(

  2. Luckily our SLRs are very well priced :-) The EOS 1000D + 18-55 costs 460 Euros