If you understand the merits of a DSLR and have the moolah to buy one, here are some things you need to keep in mind before you go out to buy. Wallet-friendly
Of course, you would have thought of this first. But remember, it’s not only about how much money you are willing to spend. It’s also about finding the best buy.
Therefore, it’s important to ask yourself what kind of a DSLR are you willing to spend your money on: low, medium or high. If you are an amateur, it’s advisable to go for the start-up DSLR and later scale up the digital ladder. If you are serious about photography, it’s best to opt for a medium range DSLR like the Nikon D90. If it’s high-end that you are seeking and can afford, there’s nothing like the Nikon D3x. Of course, there are similar cameras in Canon, too. Kit lens
If you already have lenses, ask yourself if you really need the ‘kit lens’ that comes along with the DSLR body. And if you are looking at upgrading your lens library, think of upgrading it from 18-55m lens to say 18-105mm. It offers the best of both worlds – wide angle and telephoto capability to a limited extent. And if you already have this lens, you could go for 70-300mm for telephoto zoom lens or 10-20mm for extreme wide angle. Battery
Today’s DSLRs have fantastic battery lives of up to 300 high quality shots, depending on image size and use of flash. However, if it’s a day-long shoot without a break for you to re-charge your batteries or, if you are traveling and don’t have access to a charging point, it’s best to always buy a spare battery or two. So factor in this cost, when buying a DSLR. Memory cards
Likewise, don’t just depend on the 2GB memory card that came with the camera. It’s best to buy an additional 4GB card or an 8GB card, depending on your usage patterns. But never leave home without a spare card. Camera bag
While most DSLR owners end up using the free, low quality bag that came with the camera, it’s best to invest in a good bag, particularly if you have costly stuff, like multiple lenses, external flashes, memory cards, batteries and so on. Filters
Ultra Violet filters are a must if you have high quality lenses. These prevent scratches and damage due to harsh sunlight. Utility
Most amateurs use the camera on their travels and at family functions. Only a few have specific goals in mind: sports/action photography, landscapes, architecture, wildlife, nature, macro, low light, night shots and so on. Choose your camera, based on these preferences. Size matters
Always opt for small, lightweight cameras and lenses. They go a long way in making you use the cameras more often. You might not realize this while making your purchase, but when you get down to using the camera, you will be thankful for this advice. This becomes all the more beneficial if you are into travel and wildlife photography. Save on lenses, memory cards
Just because you’ve made the transition from a film SLR to a digital SLR doesn’t mean you have to let go of the lenses as well. If you upgrade to the same company’s camera, there are more chances of it being compatible and thereby saving you a lot of money. However, not all older lenses will come in handy. So it’s best to determine whether or not they are useful before discarding them. Similarly, memory cards of older cameras could be helpful with the newer ones. Check their compatibility before you discard them outright. Mega Pixels
The common perception is that a camera is good if it has more mega pixels. That is not true. Even a 5MP camera is good enough if you are looking at printing wall-size pictures. It’s only if you want to print life-size pictures and giant hoardings that you should consider 10 or 12MP cameras. Eye on the future
Most of all, you need to consider if the low-end camera you are buying might soon get outdated with a newer, better model. Most low-end models have a limited life span. Therefore, think again if you want to opt for the start-up DSLR model or go in for the slightly higher up model, because that will last longer and also offer you a range of functionalities that the low-end DSLRs don’t offer, like exposure bracketing, panning, in-camera panorama stitching, and so on. Happy shopping!
~Zahid H Javali