Do you love taking photos, and would you like to develop your skills? Then the acquisition of a reflex camera for beginners could be worthwhile. We introduce three suitable DSLR cameras for beginners and tell you everything you need to know about photography with a single-lens reflex camera.
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Would you like to deepen your knowledge of photography, and would you like to get your first SLR camera for this? We’ll tell you what makes an SLR camera special and how manual photography works. We’ll also introduce you to three popular entry-level SLR cameras to help you choose the right camera.
Why a DSLR camera for beginners?
The name of a reflex camera is derived from the mirror that is used inside the camera when taking photos. This mode of operation should ideally coordinate the viewing and recording axes. This means the image section that you as the photographer see in the viewfinder is reproduced on the image sensor from the same perspective. The SLR camera takes a very realistic picture of what you would like to photograph. The large image sensor of the single-lens reflex cameras also contributes to this. The pictures are more detailed and can capture reality optimally in photos.
There are analogue and digital SLR cameras. An analogue single-lens reflex camera needs a film. You then have to have this developed. A digital camera creates images that are collected on a memory card in the camera. You can then digitally process these images further or have them developed as well. Analogue cameras are often abbreviated as SR and digital models as DSLR.
The option of learning manual photography speaks in favour of purchasing a first SLR camera. This means that parameters such as aperture, exposure time and focus must be set independently. This enables creative recordings and great flexibility. SLR cameras also have automatic programs. In this way, the camera automatically sets the correct parameters without you having to take any action. There are also semi-automatic photo modes. The camera then takes on the appropriate aperture setting, for example, while you as the photographer adjust the exposure time to your wishes.
Important purchase criteria for beginners
Every photographer has their own preferences. However, it is worth paying attention to the following criteria before buying a DSLR camera for.
- Folding display: A folding display is very convenient. So you can take photos from different angles without having to dislocate yourself.
- Touchscreen: New cameras often have a touchscreen. You can use it to operate the menu, set the manual parameters or operate the trigger function. A touchscreen is not absolutely necessary, but it can make the operation of the SLR camera more intuitive.
- WLAN, Bluetooth, NFC: there are cameras with wireless connection options. You can wirelessly transfer digital photos from the camera to a PC or mobile phone via WLAN, NFC or Bluetooth. There is no need for a cable. That makes the transfer very comfortable and easy.
- Video function: Would you also like to record videos with your SLR camera? Modern cameras often have both functions, but it is still worthwhile to check this briefly before buying and to find out about the video quality. The most cameras record in full HD.
- Kit lens: Before buying, make sure that you are only buying the camera body, a camera without a lens, or that a suitable standard lens is included. If the camera body and lens are to be purchased in combination, it is a kit lens.
- Fixed focal length: Some lenses have a fixed focal length. This means you cannot zoom with these lenses. The image section can only be changed by moving the photographer and not by a built-in zoom. This has the advantage that the photographer is in demand when it comes to new perspectives. Different perspectives and exciting motifs can only be created through your own movement. This is particularly useful for beginners as the eye is trained, and the exercise helps to find interesting perspectives.
- Aperture: There are many different lenses with different apertures. Some lenses are particularly suitable for open-aperture photography. They are used when there is little light, for example, in the evening. The famous background blurring also works better if the set aperture is 1.8, for example.
- ISO value: The ISO value of a reflex camera can, like a wide-open aperture, compensate for poor lighting conditions. It indicates how sensitive the camera’s image sensor is to light. The higher you set this value, the more light the camera can capture.
1. DSLR for beginners: Canon EOS 2000D
The Canon EOS 2000D is a digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR). The camera is available with a standard kit lens (18-55). This makes it a practical and inexpensive SLR camera for beginners. Canon also has numerous lenses in its range, so you can always add new lenses to the camera.
Tip: You can easily zoom with it, and an aperture of 4 already ensures a nice background blur. However, this blurring has its limits, as well as the possibility of being able to take photos in low light. That’s why the Canon EF 50mm f / 1.8 STM lens is an excellent addition to the first SLR camera. With an aperture of 1.8, it ensures atmospheric evening shots and a blurry background. The lens has a fixed focal length of 50 mm, which means that zooming is not possible. The photographer himself is in demand and can create exciting new perspectives through movement.
- Flip-up display: No.
- Touchscreen: No.
- Wireless transmission: WLAN, NFC
- Video function: Full HD
- Kit lens: 18-55mm
- Image sensor: 24.1 megapixels
2. DSLR camera for beginners: Nikon D3500
The Nikon D3500 offers good value for money. The integrated Bluetooth interface enables the wireless transfer of images and videos to laptops, tablets, or smartphones. You get the Nikon SLR camera together with a practical kit lens. So you can start taking photos straight away. The camera weighs little, is compact and comfortable for on the go.
- Flip-up display: No.
- Touchscreen: No.
- Wireless transmission: Bluetooth
- Video function: Full HD
- Kit lens: 18-55mm
- Image sensor: 24.2 megapixels
3. System camera for beginners: Sony Alpha 6000
Many people buy their first SLR because they want to deepen their photography skills. The cameras’ eponymous mirror reflex implies that they can take photos manually with these cameras, and higher quality images are created. In fact, this also works with compact system cameras that can also be combined with different lenses. The great advantage of such cameras is that the image sensor is large, like with SLR cameras, but the devices are lighter and more compact. That makes them ideal for on the go. The Sony Alpha 6000 is a high-quality system camera that you can combine with various lenses from the E-Mount series.
- Flip-up display: Yes
- Touchscreen: No.
- Wireless transmission: Wifi
- Video function: Full HD
- Kit lens: 16-50mm
- Image sensor: 24 megapixels
From the amateur photographer to professional
DSLR camera offer the great advantage that they can be operated manually and the image quality is very high. Pictures that are taken with the reflex camera are suitable, for example, for large printouts or for taking pictures of special lighting conditions that smartphones and the like can no longer photograph. If you would like to take photos manually, you have to know some basic terms and understand how they work. It’s not difficult, but it does require attention and some skill in the beginning. Once you’ve understood it, you can experiment with the camera as you please. For beginners, it is best to know and understand the key terms in manual photography. That is why you will find a comprehensive summary here.
The lens is the heart of the camera. It decides how your photo will be taken, as the lens is responsible for exposure, aperture, focal length and focus. Setting these parameters correctly is important and requires practice. Many cameras already have a suitable kit lens for the camera. Once you get used to it, you can add more lenses. Each lens has different functions and is suitable for different subjects.
If you look through the viewfinder of your SLR camera, you will see a section of the image that can vary depending on the focal length. This is because the focal length determines the distance between the camera and the recording plane. In simple terms, this means that an object can appear closer or further away through the camera’s viewfinder. Changing the focal length is called zoom.
The correct setting of the exposure time depends on the existing lighting conditions. For example, if you take pictures in bright sunlight, the exposure of the picture should be short. Otherwise, the image will be overexposed. In poor light conditions, such as in the evening or at night, the exposure time required to take a picture of a subject is extended. The camera compensates for little light through long exposure times. The exact exposure time always depends on the existing lighting conditions and must be set manually by you.
Also, the longer the exposure time, the more stable the camera must be held. Otherwise, the images will blur quickly because the camera takes a long exposure and only then releases the shutter. You have to give it a try and set a long exposure time of three seconds while taking photos by hand. Try to stand still and not move the camera an inch. That is unlikely to succeed. For such applications, photographers stabilize the camera with a practical tripod (such as a tripod).
Of course, you can also take pictures with your SLR camera in low light. To do this, you have to extend the exposure time and adjust the so-called ISO value. Setting the correct ISO tells your camera how sensitive the image sensor should be. The higher the ISO value, the more sensitive the sensor is to light, and the better you can take pictures with the camera in low light.
The exposure time is directly related to the setting of the correct aperture. The aperture of the lens determines how much light falls on the camera lens. You can think of these mechanics as an eye. Squint your eyes; less light gets in. The diaphragm takes over this function of the eyelid in the mechanism of the reflex camera. The optimal coordination of exposure time and aperture requires practice.
The aperture of a camera lens varies depending on the model. A low aperture of 1.8 means that the aperture is wide open. One would say that you are taking photos with open glare. A high aperture, such as aperture 18, on the other hand, means that the aperture is wide. The more open the aperture, the more light falls on the camera’s sensor, and the image gets brighter. The other way around is the same. If you want to take pictures in the dark in the evening, you need a wide open aperture and a long exposure time.
An example: You want to take a photo in bright sunshine, and you are on the move, for example, during a city trip. The exposure time should be short; this ensures that you can take photos while walking without the result being blurred and the images being overexposed. The aperture should be closed to prevent too much light from entering. However, it must not be completely close either. Otherwise, too little light will reach the lens during movement.
Iris and bokeh effect
Would you like the popular background blur? The picture looks more elegant, and the main motif stands out more impressively. When choosing the lens, you have to make sure that the aperture can be opened wide because the more open the aperture of the lens, the more blurred the background will appear. Apertures 1.4 or 2.8 are suitable for this, for example. The desired blurring effect is called the bokeh effect.
Three tips for the bokeh effect
- Use f / 1.4 or f / 2.8.
- Imagine you want to photograph a person in front of a blue wall. For the bokeh effect to work, this person has to stand a little way away from the wall. Otherwise, the background will not be blurred properly.
- Telephoto lenses are better than wide-angle lenses.
There is manual focus and automatic focus. You can turn it on and off using the camera’s lens. If you take photos with manual focus, you have the option of deciding for yourself which areas of the picture should be in focus. The automatic focus does this work for you. This is convenient when you are taking photos on the go and want to snap a quick snap. The manual focus, on the other hand, provides more experimentation and freedom.
Accessories for SLR cameras for beginners
In addition to a first camera, investing in the right accessories can be worthwhile. So you don’t have to do without sufficient battery, storage space and stability on longer trips. When buying your SLR camera, make sure that the set already includes suitable accessories. If not, just buy the individual parts.
As a rule, memory cards (SD cards) are not included when buying an SLR camera. So that you can start taking photos right away, you should invest in a suitable SD card. SD cards have a good size with 64 GB. The writing speed of the card should be fast, so you don’t have to wait long for the image data to be saved.
If you want to take the camera with you on vacation or on longer trips, a camera bag is worthwhile. The camera is better protected in it. There are even bags with practical rain protection. Spare batteries and memory cards can also be stowed in them. So everything has its place, and you can find the accessories quickly.
A tripod is used when you want to expose photos for a long time. If you do not use a tripod to stabilize the camera, the result is likely to be blurred. Tripods allow you to take photos with a self-timer. The camera stands securely in it and can be optimally aligned. Anyone who would prefer to film with the new SLR camera needs a camera gimble. The practical brackets stabilize the camera when you are in motion. So, the recordings shouldn’t be blurred.
SLR cameras often only have one battery. If you plan to shoot a lot and for a long time, you will need one or more spare batteries. This allows you to take the dslr camera with you on long trips without worrying about running out of power.
Portable light reflector
The lighting conditions for outdoor photography are not always ideal. A portable light reflector ensures that you can use the light optimally, for example, by reflecting sun rays and thus illuminating a certain area of the image. There are also different coatings so that you can create warm and cool colors in a targeted manner.
How do you get started with photography?
This is the first step in getting closer to advanced photography. In particular, manual photography makes the hearts of photography enthusiasts beat faster. Those who take photos manually have to learn to understand the camera and how it works. This means that when you buy your first SLR camera, you also deepen your knowledge of photography. You learn intuitively and can let off steam with the new camera and apply the new knowledge. Find out about the most important functions, such as aperture, exposure time, focal length and focus. In the beginning, take your time and look carefully at the camera.
Don’t fret if the first few shots don’t work right away. It takes patience and practice to optimally adapt the camera settings to the photo conditions. Just dare to experiment with the camera. Then you will quickly notice which settings work and which do not. Most importantly, have fun with photography. In this way, you develop your own style and become better and better at using your SLR camera. Hope this guide on DSLR camera for beginners will help you to become a good photographer.
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