With camera phones increasingly popular and useful as a means of taking a spur-of-the-moment snap, attention has shifted from digital compacts to their more fully featured cousins for amateur photographers wanting to get the best quality stills.
Digital SLR camera and lens kits from big names including Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Olympus can now be picked up for under £400 – only £50 or so more than a top-end compact. So, if you’ve ever considered owning a DSLR, now is the time to pay attention…
First off, it’s worth considering the individual properties of each camera system, along with your budget, as each brand has its individual quirks plus a line-up of accessories specific to that system. This means, for example, that a Canon lens, flashgun or wireless remote won’t offer compatibility with a Nikon or Sony DSLR.
As a result, once most photographers have invested in a system, they rarely swap. Possibly for this reason, there has been some serious price cutting from the major names as they try to tempt first-time DSLR owners to go for their brand alone.
When deciding on which system will suit you best it’s worth putting some thought into the kind of images you intend to take.
For example, low or natural light photography often benefits from some form of anti-shake system to prevent visible blurring from hand wobble – as do candid shots taken at the extreme telephoto end (maximum zoom) of the lens.
Most consumer DSLRs now have this feature built in, but not all of them; Canon and Nikon for example would prefer it if you bought a dedicated lens with image stabilisation (re-named Vibration Reduction by Nikon), obviously at additional cost.
That said Canon is the world’s best-selling camera brand, and Nikon comes a close second, so they boast a wider range of accessories than their competitors. If you’re looking to expand your kit as your experience grows, either is a safe bet.
However, you may get a better deal if you go for say Olympus or Panasonic, which may not offer as extensive a range, but nevertheless boast enough add-ons to satisfy all but the most demanding photo enthusiast.