A professional DSLR camera isn't meant for a casual photographer or hobbyist; you will be using these cameras for news stories, beautiful landscape photos or high-impact sports shots. But while we use the term "professional," you don't have to be a professional to use one. However, you probably don't want to empty your pockets just to get a camera to take pictures of your dinner at an Italian restaurant. These cameras are a wise investment if you never want to leave home without something that can capture a wide range of lights, colors and contrast.
DSLR cameras have myriad manual settings, which sets them apart from point-and-shoot cameras. If you buy a DSLR camera, you can expect fast shutter speeds, a broader ISO range, interchangeable lenses and more adaptability. The best DSLR cameras in our reviews have so many manual settings that you can shoot in any way you want, in any lighting situation. These cameras also come with good auto modes, but manual controls are what set them apart from pocket cameras. All these controls, adaptability and extra features give you more creative control and allow you to frame pictures the way you want to. The only limitation to DSLR cameras is that you can't really fit one in your pocket.
Here you'll find comprehensive reviews and a side-by-side comparison to help you make an informed decision regarding which camera is right for you. Be sure to check out our top-rated cameras: the Canon EOS 1D-X, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the Nikon D800. Be sure to check out our articles related to professional DSLR cameras as well.
Professional DSLR cameras are an expensive investment if you want to take your hobbyist skills to the next level. Many of these cameras cost tens of thousands of dollars, so figuring out what you will use the camera for is essential. In addition to analyzing the features and functions of a DSLR camera, some additional criteria we suggest that you look into when you purchase a professional-grade camera include its price, lens selection and compatibility, and longevity.
Megapixels aren't the first thing to consider, but there is a myth about them: higher isn't always better. Many cameras have high megapixel counts (sometimes upwards of 32), but this isn't necessarily a good thing. On many sensors inside DSLR cameras, a lower megapixel count with bigger pixels will produce cleaner images with less noise. Unlike many other cameras where you end up paying for a higher pixel count, your money goes toward larger sensors that are more powerful and can produce better images. The cameras we looked at range from 12.3 megapixels to 36.3 megapixels.
Professional DSLRs have a wide ISO range, anywhere from 80 all the way up to 25,600, giving you flexibility to shoot in a variety of lighting conditions. Advanced sensors help reduce visual noise if you do have to use a high ISO, which is beneficial if you enjoy shooting starry skies and meteor showers. If you enjoy shooting sports, you will want a camera that does high-speed continuous shooting, at a rate of at least five frames per second.
Cameras either have an APS-C (crop) sensor or a full-body sensor. Full-body sensors are close to traditional 35mm sensors from the past, and APS-C sensors are a tad smaller. Image quality increases with a larger sensor due to the higher resolution, but APS sensors increase the focal length of the lens, which means that the lens appears to be longer and gives you a better zoom effect.
One big item to look for when you purchase a DSLR camera is the shutter life – or how many pictures the camera can take over its lifespan. Many cameras of this caliber range from 150,000 to even 400,000 and more. This estimate, made by the manufacturer, is usually very accurate.
These cameras are much larger than pocket cameras, but you aren't buying these cameras for their size. The camera should also be properly weather sealed, and the ergonomics should be comfortable so that finding buttons and settings is easy, without requiring you to take your eye off the viewfinder. The size and resolution of the LCD display screen is also important. Professionals especially rely on their cameras to capture events, sports, wildlife, news and more, so the best professional DSLR cameras should be able to take numerous shots on a single battery charge. Removable memory is a valuable added feature that makes it much easier to transfer files from the camera to a PC.
These cameras don't skimp on the extras. Many come with a multi-function button that gives you quick control to rotate, rate, resize and adjust the autofocus. If you take a load of pictures and are worried about space, look for a camera that has dual memory card slots so that you don't have to change out the cards as often. Depth-of-field buttons let you preview the preselected aperture to see how much of the foreground or background is in focus.
Help & Support
The help and support options available for the professional DSLR camera you choose are very important. They should include a user manual, online FAQs and knowledgebase pages, a place to download software and firmware updates, and possibly some tutorials. The length of the standard warranty is also important.
A professional DSLR camera is the perfect upgrade if you are ready to break out into professional photography and start making money with your hobby. These cameras are durable. They are configured for any shooting situation and offer all the manual controls you need.
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