Tips for Getting Started with a DSLR Camera

Michael • updated July 20 27, 2022 • 7 min read

Tips for Getting Started with a DSLR Camera

The sky is a beautiful shade of pink because of the sun, but your cell phone camera only picks up a pixelated yellow? When your phone’s camera is no longer good enough, it’s time to get a real camera, like an DSLR.

We’ll explain the differences between the different DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) models, tell you what you need to know to buy one, and give you some tips on digital photography for beginners. You can start taking gorgeous pictures right away.


 

What’s the difference between DSLR, a bridge, or a system camera?

When you’re looking for a digital camera, you’ll first hear the terms SLR, system camera, and bridge camera. DSLR cameras and mirrorless cameras are the two main types of cameras.

The only real difference is that an SLR camera has a mirror inside. More specifically, more than one mirror. These make sure that what you see in the viewfinder is the same thing that is in front of the lens. It works like binoculars even when the camera is turned off.

Digital mirrorless cameras, like bridge or system cameras, work differently. They either have a digital viewfinder that shows the image on the screen or they don’t have a viewfinder at all and only have a screen. The digital image is then shown on the screen, just like on a cell phone, as soon as it hits the sensor of the camera or cell phone.

Older analog cameras that don’t have a mirror also have a viewfinder, but it’s just a small window that doesn’t control what you see through the lens. So what you see in the viewfinder may not be what you see in the photo you take. This means that the feet are often cut off by accident.

What is a DSLR camera?

As the name suggests, a DSLR is a digital camera with a mirror system. You look at your object through the mirror. An DSLR camera has an exchangeable lens system. We’ll show you which DSLR settings to use.

If you don’t just want to take a snap, but want to make but want to take impressive pictures, you should a single-lens reflex camera – DSLR for short. It offers unparalleled image quality and a decisive flexibility and creativity.

What does DSLR stand for?

DSLR is an acronym for DIGITAL SINGLE LENS REFLEX.

Which interprets to:

  • DIGITAL – Once you take a photo by pressing the shutter button, the shutter opens, the light passes through the lens and hits the image sensor, the sensor then captures the images and stores it on your camera.
  • SINGLE LENS REFLEX – Light is entering through the lens, then hits the mirror, the mirror forwards the light to the viewfinder of the camera.

What does the mirror do at a DSLR?

During the exposure, the mirror flips up, and the shutter behind the mirror releases the sensor for the exposure. When the mirror is folded up, a folding noise typical of DSLR cameras is heard, which is more or less loud depending on the model.

The mirror is also folded up during live view mode or video recording. During this time, the viewfinder remains dark because it is covered by the mirror.

The mirror of an autofocus DSLR camera is not only used for the viewfinder image. The cameras also use the mirror for focusing.

Some more advanced cameras on the market use fixed semi-transparent mirrors that do not move during shooting. This allows almost silent shooting, a fast continuous shooting mode, and fast autofocus.

What digital DSLR camera should a beginner buy?

So many models, so many options, and most importantly, so many sensors. The image sensor is what decides how good the picture is. It has a certain number of megapixels that show how big it is. So, what is a good number of megapixels for an entry-level model?

Does it always make sense to have more? No, because too many megapixels make the image sensor more sensitive and increase image noise. Then, more and more pixels have to fit on the small image sensor.

If there are too many people, each pixel has less and less room to take in light. The small amount of light is amplified so that it can still be used to filter out enough information, even if it was wrong.

For instance, a pixel may not show black but instead show green. In the photos, this makes dark colors, especially, look a little bit mottled.

So, people just starting out should not use more than 18 megapixels. About 12 megapixels is ideal. Professional cameras can have more megapixels because the sensor is bigger and can be used more completely.

On the other hand, a lower resolution makes it hard to use the images in other ways. For example, you can only make a 6-megapixel photo about 16×25 cm big.

If you want to print your most beautiful memories on a big canvas, the pictures will be made up of small squares, or pixels. For example, a 12 megapixel picture can be blown up to 33 x 25.4 cm.

Lens

Most cameras come with what’s called a “kit lens,” which has a focal length of about 18 to 55 mm and a speed of about f/3.5. You can take pictures in the normal range with this. At 55 mm, the camera captures exactly what you see.

At a shorter focal length, up to 18 mm, the camera captures what is called a “wide-angle format,” which is a bit more than what you can see with your own eyes. You can buy another lens if that isn’t enough.

Rad more about lenses at why prime lenses take better pictures.

Sensor

In a DSLR, where the film used to go is where the sensor is. A full-format sensor is much bigger than a crop sensor, which is much smaller. Here, the so-called crop sensor works just fine.

The full-format sensor gives you more room to move, which is helpful if you want to take photos in low light or in a wide-angle format, but it also makes the camera and lens many times more expensive.

WiFi

It is already in a lot of cameras. WiFi lets you look at, share, and change your photos right on your computer, phone, or tablet.

Display

Digital cameras all have a screen, but some can be folded out, stretched, and turned. This is helpful if you want to take a picture when the camera is lying on the ground and you can’t see the viewfinder or the screen very well.

In this case, you can still see exactly what is in front of the lens with the help of a rotating display. See also How to use Live View Mode when taking Pictures.

Housing

Not to forget, the camera should feel good in your hand.  Try out different models before you buy to make sure they are easy to use and carry.

Also, think about how much the camera weighs. It shouldn’t be too heavy for you to want to carry it around with you all the time.

Battery life

For choosing the image section, compact cameras have a display, and many mirrorless system cameras have an electronic viewfinder for this. Both parts use a lot of electricity.

With a DSLR, you mostly choose what part of the picture you want to take by looking through an optical viewfinder, which doesn’t need any power. So, a DSLR can work for a long time on a single battery, especially when compared to compact and system cameras. With these types of cameras, you have to buy multiple batteries for longer trips.

Start right away with camera modes

You’ve chosen a model and are ready to get started? No problem. For the first pictures, put your camera in full auto mode. To do this, turn the mode dial on top of the camera to Auto. The camera will then make all the necessary settings on its own.

Your DSLR camera will also automatically set itself to one of the preset modes that is best for the situation. You can also use the mode dial to switch between these modes, which are marked with icons. Most of the time, there is:

  • mode for landscapes (mountains)
  • mode for sports (Sprinter)
  • mode for close-ups (flower)
  • mode for portraits (person).

Depending on the model, the camera may also have other modes that are helpful.

When you choose P for program automatic, S for shutter speed, or TV for time value, you have a bit more freedom to be yourself.

With S/TV, you can set the exposure time, but the camera will take care of the other settings, like aperture and ISO, on its own. In P mode, you can choose the ISO value, but the camera chooses the shutter speed and aperture.

Try the manual mode also

But you can try the manual mode even if you don’t know much about it. Here, you can change everything by yourself. So, you can decide for yourself how each picture should look:

  • Turn the mode dial to M for Manual.
  • First, set the time of exposure. Your camera has a small wheel that you can turn to do this. The display shows the value that goes with it. For instance, 2″ means 2 seconds and 1/200 means 200th of a second. Note: The image will be brighter and more likely to blur the longer you expose it.
  • Next, set the size of the hole. In the menu, you can change this. Your lens will show you how wide you can open the aperture.
  • Lastly, go to the menu and change the ISO value.

Your camera is all set. Still don’t know which settings will give you the best photos? Then check out our guide for beginner photography with tips for getting started and many other photography topics.

Who should buy a DSLR camera?

DSLRs aren’t for everyone. If you want a camera that you can keep in your pocket and never have to worry about, you should look at compact cameras.

The best uses for DSLR cameras, on the other hand, are:

  • Beginners who want to do as much as possible for as little money as possible
  • Professional photographers need workhorses that are reliable and strong and also make a good impression when they meet potential clients.
  • Photographers who need autofocus to be very fast and accurate
  • Photographers who want as many high-quality lenses as possible or who need a specific lens that is only available for SLR cameras.

 

More stuff about DSLR cameras:
Dump Your DSLR And Save Your Back
9 Features Every DSLR Should Have Now
DIY exoplanet detector using a DSLR
Should I switch to mirrorless from DSLR
Top 8 must-haves for your DSLR camera


Frequently asked question

Is a DSLR camera still up to date?

Even though DSLR cameras are still on the market, they are not as important as they used to be. Anyone who wants to buy a camera system right now, whether they are a beginner or an experienced photographer, will choose a mirrorless system. Read more about DSLR or Mirrorless System Camera for Beginners?

When should I get a DSLR camera?

You should choose an DSLR camera if you want to view your motifs directly through the lens. In addition, good image quality is a good reason to choose this type of camera. If you are looking for a compact model, you should not go for this camera, most DSLR cameras are quite large.

This is also due to the exchangeable lens. But the choice of various lenses also gives you a lot of creative freedom, as do the diverse setting options.

What lenses do I choose for my DSLR camera?

Since the DSLR camera has been around a bit longer than the system camera, there are more lenses available for these cameras. You can choose between different types of lenses, like macro, portrait, and landscape lenses.

What settings do I have to make with a DSLR?

A DSLR camera often has various manual and (semi-)automatic setting features. On the camera, you will find various buttons and wheels that allow you to change the settings during shooting.

Or choose a special mode that lets you take a great portrait photo. The more expensive the model, the more options there are on the device. These models are very well suited for professional photographers.

What does DSLR mean in a camera?

A digital single-lens reflex camera, or DSLR camera for short, has a foldable mirror between the lens and the image plane. Before the picture is taken, the image is shown in the opposite direction on a horizontal ground-glass screen.

Which Canon camera is best for a newbie?

In 2022, the DSLM Canon EOS M50 II is the best camera for a beginner. The APS-C sensor system camera with 24.1 megapixels is great for people who are just starting out in photography because it is easy to use.

What Nikon is best for a beginner?

The Nikon D5600 is the best DSLR for beginners in terms of price and performance. Even if you are no longer a beginner, this camera will meet your needs.


Conclusion

Anyone who wants to take pictures with something other than a cell phone must first make a big decision: Which camera is right for me? There are different answers to this question. But a DSLR camera is usually the good choice. 

The right model will depend on what you want. Once you have the camera, it’s easy to start taking pictures. Some settings make it easier for people who are just starting out to take pictures that look good.


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By Furoore team member Michael
Furoore Team is here to assist you in capturing the most significant moments in your life. To create exciting photographs, discover photography guides, find unique photo ideas, and limitless image inspiration.

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