Digital cameras have become available in all sizes and shapes, with many possibilities and features. Whether you’re buying a first or fifth digital camera, it’s quite possible that you will face the question which model to choose and what to look for. Many features play key roles in the quality game, and you’ll have to get familiar with at least some of them to have the slightest idea of what the heck are you doing. In this article we will shed the light on the main features to look for in DSLR camera, hoping that it will help our readers.
Instead of film, digital cameras use a photo sensor made up of millions of pixels. When capturing an image, each pixel produces a small electronic pulse depending on the amount of light it “catches.” Megapixel is a term used for a million pixels. The more megapixels sensor has, the greater the potential resolution of the camera.
Some time ago, megapixels were the main factor when rating the camera, because if it did not have enough megapixels it could not capture large enough resolution for a quality image. Fortunately, most cameras today have 6 megapixels or more, which is enough to capture small and medium images, as well as standard photo dimensions. Therefore, most cameras can capture a quality image.
Now you might be wondering, how to choose between 8 megapixels and 10 megapixels? You don’t have to. The difference in picture quality is difficult to notice if you are not a professional looking for the tiniest details or if you do not plan to make great prints. But still, a camera with 16 megapixels might be ideal.
It may sound strange, but sometimes you can shoot a better quality photo with a 6 megapixel sensor than that of 8. How is that possible? It is, when the 6 megapixel sensor is physically larger than 8 megapixels. A larger sensor can magnify the image more closely before the camera. The secret is in the following fact. A larger sensor results in a larger individual area of illumination (or pixel). That’s why it can capture a more credible picture of what it has “seen”. The size of the sensor is also important to photographers who are interested in large print formats and high resolution images.
However, this does not mean that you have to discard all other camera features in exchange for the bigger sensor. For example, most people will not notice the difference in the dynamic range of colors. Many devices use alternate technologies to optimize the dynamic range to allow for greater contrasts and detail in shady and extremely bright parts of the photo.
CAMERA LENS AND ZOOM
Most people regard the amount of zoom as the crucial feature of the lens, which is a bad approach. Zoom in 3x, 5x, 10x, etc. does not actually mean zooming but the range between the minimum and maximum focal length of the lens. Focal length is exactly what you should pay attention for.
Today, almost every average camera has at least 3x optical zoom, and some offer a lot more. Zooming up to 3x is quite enough for most occasions. On the other hand, if you are interested in photographing distant animals, landscapes, or other distant objects, you will be interested in a camera with higher optical zoom.
Approximately 50mm focal length covers a frame that human eye can see. The smaller focal length gives a wider angle. Depending on your wishes, you should look for a camera with a suitable focal length of the lens. Also keep in mind that many cameras offer digital zoom. You should ignore this feature because the digital zoom dramatically degrades the image.
Stabilization is one of those things that are not necessary, but under certain conditions can make a huge difference. To make a sharp image, the camera needs to be completely motionless during recording. If you’ve ever been frustrated with blurry photos that would be extremely interesting if you just managed to keep the camera steady, look for a camera with the image stabilizer.
Also, if you are frequently shooting in conditions with less available light (dusk, night, indoor areas, etc.), we strongly recommend a camera with the stabilizer. More and more devices offer a variety of built-in technologies that reduce the effects of vibration and shaky hands that can result in blurry image when zooming in.
WHITE BALANCE (WB)
At daylight, the automation will be accurate enough in almost all cameras, but in artificial lighting conditions we recommend manual adjustment, either by the preset values or through a full manual control. For this reason, it is a great advantage if the camera has the option of adjusting the white balance manually, and the advanced DSLR models also offer precise settings of the light temperature.
These days, many DSLR models offer a video recording option. Although there are really impressive video modes in several cameras, it’s best to buy a video camera primarily for video capturing. Many cameras are limited by a variety of features. For example, during the recording, the optical zoom or autofocus does not work, or the sound quality is below the average.
You should pay attention to two features: video resolution and number of frames per second (fps). In less expensive models, it’s mostly about VGA video (640 x 480), while DSLRs offer HD video (1280×720 or 1920×1080). Be aware that HD video takes up a lot of memory and requires a large and fast memory card.
Most models nowadays use a Li-Ion battery whose characteristics and ease of charging are no different from those in mobile phones. Cheaper cameras are still using AA batteries. If you are going for a longer trip and you do not have a safe source of electricity for the charger or you do not want to carry it, consider buying an additional battery.
Most of today’s cameras come with built-in low-capacity memory or a low-capacity memory card. Memory cards have become extremely affordable, and those of two gigabytes should be large enough for most users.
Every day we meet with subjective thinking that some of the cameras are “garbage” and the others, perfection. It is true that some systems are not suitable for some specific situations, but in general, discrediting an entire system is entirely subjective and unfounded. Each D-SLR system offers a number of advantages and disadvantages and it is a matter of personal assessment that will best suit your needs.