Professional DSLR Review

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Why Use a Professional DSLR Camera?

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: What to Look For

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.

Image Quality
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.

Design
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.

Features
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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Rank #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10
10-9  Excellent
8-6    Good
5-4    Average
3-2    Poor
1-0    Bad
Canon EOS 1D X Nikon D800 Canon EOS 5D Mark III Sony Alpha A99 Nikon D7000 Canon EOS 5D Mark II Nikon D3X Canon EOS 60D Canon EOS 7D Pentax K-5 II
Canon EOS 1D X Nikon D800 Canon EOS 5D Mark III Sony Alpha A99 Nikon D7000 Canon EOS 5D Mark II Nikon D3X Canon EOS 60D Canon EOS 7D Pentax K-5 II
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Ratings
9.78
9.38
9.35
9.25
9.13
8.73
8.73
8.63
8.50
8.48
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
10.00
10.00
9.38
9.38
9.38
9.38
9.38
9.38
9.38
8.75
10.00
9.38
9.38
8.75
9.38
10.00
8.75
8.75
10.00
9.38
9.38
8.75
7.50
9.38
8.75
10.00
6.88
9.38
8.75
8.13
8.75
9.38
8.75
8.75
7.50
9.38
8.13
8.75
8.75
8.13
 
Image Quality
Resolution (megapixels) 18.1 36.3 22.3 24.3 16.2 21.1 24.5 18 18 16.9
ISO Range 50 - 204800 100 - 25600 100 - 12800 100 - 25600 100 - 25600 100 - 25600 100 - 6400 100 - 12800 100 - 12800 80 - 51200
Maximum Shutter Speed (seconds) 1/8000 1/8000 1/8000 1/8000 1/8000 1/8000 1/8000 1/8000 1/8000 1/8000
Processor Dual DIGIC 5+ EXPEED Dual DIGIC 5+ BIONZ EXPEED DIGIC 4 EXPEED DIGIC 4 DIGIC 4 Prime
AF Point System 61 51 61 19 39 54 51 19 38 22
Continuous Shooting Speed (frames per second) 14 4 6 8 6 4 5 5.3 8 7
Video Recording 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p   1080p 1080p 1080p
Image Stabilizer
Design
Full Frame Sensor
 
  
APS-C Sensor     
   
Battery Life (shots per charge) 1120 900 950 500 1050 1200 4400 1100 1000 960
Shutter Life 200,000 200,000 150,000 200,000 150,000 150,000 250,000 100,000 150,000 100,000
LCD Screen Size (inches) 3.2 3.2 3.2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
Foldout Screen    
   
  
Camera Width (inches) 6.2 5.7 6 5.8 5.2 6.0 6.3 5.7 5.8 5.2
Camera Height (inches) 6.4 4.8 4.6 4.5 4.1 4.5 6.2 4.2 4.4 3.8
Camera Depth (inches) 3.3 3.2 3 3.09 3.0 3.0 3.4 3.1 2.9 2.9
Camera Weight (pounds) 3 2 1.9 2 1.52 1.79 2.69 1.60 1.81 1.7
Dual-card Slot
 
   
Features
Depth of Field Button
Noise Reduction
Video Out
      
Mic Input
HDR
 
   
Mini-HDMI Out
   
 
  
HDMI  
  
 
Help & Support
User Manual
FAQs
Tutorials
 
Phone Support
Email
Live Chat