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Beginners Guide: Buying Your First DSLR Camera

Nobody wants to be an amateur. Telling somebody they’re a great amateur photographer is like giving out participation medals at a six-year-old’s soccer game – the qualifier makes it pointless. And camera companies know this. With the coming of the smartphone, there’s a polarisation between casual photography and serious, so Canon, Nikon, and others are pushing their DSLRs towards the higher end of the spectrum, with more features, and a hell of a lot more cash required. Choosing the right DSLR, especially for the entry level/beginner, is an investment worth looking into. Here’s some good options to get started.


Canon EOS 70D
(For the no f*ing around person)

The problem with beginning DSLRs is that, well, soon you won’t be a beginner anymore. And then you’re stuck with a hunk of shit that can’t handle the kind of shots you want to take. Cameras are expensive, and buying a cheap one to learn on will still hurt when it comes time to upgrade. Canon has some great beginning cameras, but looking up the road a bit will lead you to the 70D, an even better option for those who want to shoot as more than just a month-long hobby. It comes with a tiny price hike, but not an unmanageable one, and its “enthusiast” status means that it’ll survive the initial honeymoon period of artistic shots of your pets, far into the period of buying accessories you’ll never actually use. It’s not gonna be used to shoot the next Maxim cover, but for people looking to take their photography more seriously than Instagram, it’s the best option. (Price: $1,400.00++ BUY)


Nikon D3300
(The the no fuss beginner)

Nikon’s camera models always sound a bit like the next brand of Terminator, but it works, since the D3300 is from the future. It’s the next in Nikon‘s line of beginning DSLRs, bringing in the customisation abilities of its higher level cameras and adding features like the Guide Mode that make it so easy to use it practically uses itself. And that’s a step in the right direction if you’re pro-Skynet. It also has a built in WiFi link-up that allows you to instantly upload your images to your smartphone or tablet. In that way, it’s starting to bridge the gap between the higher level cameras you may be looking at to start your hobby and the casual pictures you take of your friends at the bar. So for those looking to transition from one to the other, check it out. Your photos of your friends at the bar will never look better. (Price: TBA )


Canon EOS M
(For the compact traveller)

There are people out there who want to try photography, but don’t think they’ll have time outside of a basic hobby. The rich and eccentric will still buy a high end camera, but the others aren’t so lucky. For those uncommitted but curious, Canon makes the EOS M. Like the D3300, it bridges the gap between casual camera and full on photographic equipment. However, while the D3300 does this through intuitive guide modes and smartphone links, the EOS M does it with price points and aesthetics. It keeps the shape and affordability of the casual cameras (currently fading out of existence) while offering compatibility with Canon’s long line of EOS DSLR lenses and manual shooting controls. Picking up one of these bad boys is meant to ease those casuals into the joys of photography, so enjoy at your own risk. It’s an addiction. (Price: $700.00 BUY)


Nikon D5300 / Canon 7D / Canon 5D
(When you want to add a few more to your box of tricks)

Of course at a certain point, anybody getting into photography will want to expand their range. If you’re buying the cheap ingredients from the neighbourhood market, the cakes you bake can only taste so good. The D3300 and the EOS M can only do so much. Hell, even the 70D tops out. Camera companies know this – it’s like a gateway drug, and they’re the shady guys hanging out behind the bleachers. For those who want to jump right in – maybe you’ve got disposable income, maybe you’re just passionate – there are cameras that offer even more power and work in even more situations. These are the “prosumer” models, and you’ll find them firmly in the middle on pricing and abilities when it comes to the entire camera line. They may take a bit more dedication, but the shots will look better and maybe, just maybe, that hobby will become something more. (Price: Upward of $800.00)

GoPro Hero 3 Black (For the adventure seeker)

It may not actually be a DSLR, but GoPro’s line of action cams deserve special mention in any list of cameras that combine power with affordability. As the line between photo and video cameras disappears, the GoPro Hero 3 Black combines both in a small size, affording the ability to shoot in 4K (not that you’d want to at the frame rate it can handle) and take 12 megapixel images at the same time. The standard option doesn’t have an LCD screen for instant review (though an add-on can be purchased), and the settings are more difficult to change on the fly, but this in turn forces the photographer to think a bit more about angles and preparation in advance, while also allowing them to simply have fun with the hobby. All of which will improve their skills on a DSLR camera as well. And isn’t improving what buying an entry-level camera is all about? Throw in the durability and cost efficiency, and you have a camera that everybody should be packing in their bags. (Price: $400.00+)

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