You’re thinking of buying an DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera, but you’re not sure which model to choose. Don’t worry, you’re not the first person to face such a dilemma. When buying one of these cameras it is important to do your research as this is a choice for life. To make this process easier, we have prepared this complete shopping guide for you.

Here you can learn about the most important aspects of the exciting world of DSLR cameras. With this guide you will discover all the advantages they offer and, of course, the disadvantages. Additionally, we will provide you with a series of purchase criteria so that you can make a confident decision with as much information as possible.

First Things First

  • DSLR, or ‘reflex’ cameras, allow you to take higher quality photographs than compact digital cameras, as they offer better control over the different parameters that can be configured when capturing an image. However, as they are much more technical and specialised, their price is also higher.
  • Given their superb performance, these cameras are ideal both for photography enthusiasts with advanced knowledge and for those who would like to get started in the professional photography industry.
  • Equally or more important than the body of the camera is the lens you select. Often, the lens that comes standard with the camera is an entry-level piece of equipment, so over time it’s a good idea to buy a better one.

Ranking: The best DSLR cameras in the UK

In the following section we present to you the ranking that we have prepared with the five best reflex cameras currently available on the UK market. We have prepared this list by trying to include the most varied products available, but always choosing products that offer very good value for money.

No. 1: Nikon D3500 + AF-P DX 18–55 VR Kit – Black

The D3500’s large 24.2 MP DX-format sensor captures richly detailed photos and Full HD movies—even when you shoot in low light. Combined with the rendering power of your NIKKOR lens, you can start creating artistic portraits with smooth background blur with ease.

The camera’s razor-sharp autofocus system will keep subjects in perfect focus, while a swift 5 fps lets you capture five beautiful images for every second. Whether you’re zooming in on a tender look or going wide to capture the kids in action-the moment is yours.

No. 2: Canon EOS 4000D DSLR Camera and EF-S 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 III Lens Body + 18-55 mm Lens and Camera Bag

This camera is ideal for a beginner, it is easy to use, with well laid out controls and good battery life. It is also well priced, compared to many cameras on the market. The camera has Wi-Fi connectivity, plus a Quick Menu, which allows you to easily access commonly used settings. For beginners, or those getting back into photography, it does everything that a learner would need.

This camera allows you to take beautiful photos and movies with background blur.  You can easily connect, shoot and share on the move. It comes with a spacious camera bag that offers all the storage you need so you’ll never be caught out while filming or shooting

No. 3: Canon EOS 200D EF-S 18 – 135 mm Digital SLR Camera – Black

This camera is very easy to use with excellent picture quality. With full manual control Equipped with microphone jack. Built-in Wi-Fi with Dynamic NFC Equipped with Bluetooth low energy technology for constant connection to compatible smart device24.2 megapixel CMOS sensor for photos rich with detail and colour and look fantastic straight from the camera.

It offers continuous shooting at up to 5 Ftp, optical viewfinder with 9-point autofocus, full HD movies at 60p and its easy to share wireless link through Bluetooth, NFC and Wi-Fi

No. 4: Nikon D5600 + AF-S 18-140 VR DSLR Camera – Black

This is a camera that gives power to your ideas.  Nikon D5600. Creativity runs through every frame, every angle and every detail. Sharing can happen automatically and effortlessly using Bluetooth and the Nikon Snap Bridge app.

Sharp, high-quality images transfer as you take them to your compatible smart devices. Optical viewfinder, vary-angle screen and AF with 39 focus points encourage you to keep shooting and sharing. Play around with the enriching filters and jaw-dropping time-lapse movies. The wide selection of NIKKOR lenses will help you elevate your creations even further. Spreading creativity.

No. 5: Pentax K-70 DSLR Camera + DA 18-135mm WR Lens Kit

This is an all-weather digital SLR camera that expands the boundaries of photography, providing new opportunities to discover the scenery all around us. The PENTAX K-70’s compact body makes it easy to carry with you when shooting outdoors.

The camera allows you to combine real life imagery with high-sensitivity and low light performance, making it extremely reliable, even in the most demanding shooting situations. Whether it is under bright, blue skies, on wild overcast days, in the light rain or under dark wintry skies, the PENTAX K-70 captures the beauty of mother nature in an astonishing detail.

Shopping Guide: Everything you need to know about DSLR cameras

When buying a reflex camera, it is essential that you consider a number of important aspects before making the purchase. Don’t forget that there are different models of DSLR and that each one is designed for a different use. With this in mind, we will attempt to answer the most common questions among buyers so that you are well informed prior to making the purchase.

If you are thinking of buying a reflex camera, this guide will help you decide which one is best for you.
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What are DSLR cameras exactly?

DSLR cameras, often referred to as ‘reflex cameras’ or SLR cameras (film version of an DSLR), are a type of camera with which it is possible to observe directly the scene to be photographed through an optical viewfinder without producing a viewing error (in photography it is known as a “parallax error”). This error occurs when the image displayed by the viewfinder does not coincide with the focused image.

Reflex cameras are specifically categorised because they have a mirror that reflects (hence the name) the light that enters through the lens and transmits it to the optical viewfinder through a prism. The main advantage of reflex cameras is that what you see is through the viewfinder is exactly what will appear in the photograph. In addition, the advanced technology they use also makes it possible to capture higher quality images than a simple digital camera or mobile phone camera.

How does a reflex camera work?

The basic principle of operation of reflex cameras is a mirror that tilts when the photograph is shot and that defines the path that the light can enter the camera. Under normal conditions, the mirror in front of the shutter is inclined at an angle of 45º to deflect the light to a pentaprism and from there to the viewfinder.

When the picture is taken the mirror is quickly moved to a horizontal position to allow the light to pass to the sensor. When this occurs, the lens diaphragm is closed and the shutter is opened to allow the sensor to be exposed to light. The shutter then closes, the diaphragm reopens, and the mirror returns to its initial position. The result is usually a high quality photo that is displayed on the screen of the camera.

What are the advantages of DSLR cameras?

DSLR cameras offer a number of important advantages over other types of cameras. To start with, they usually have a larger viewfinder than compact cameras or simple digital cameras. With this advantage, you can take pictures with better image quality. Another advantage of reflex cameras is that they have interchangeable lenses, that can be changed depending on the natural conditions or the type of photo you want to take.

Reflex cameras also allow you to set parameters manually, giving you more control over things like shutter speed, aperture, ISO and white balance. They also allow you to reduce the ‘noise’ when taking pictures in low-light conditions. The final advantage is they are usually ergonomically designed.

What are the disadvantages of reflex cameras?

Reflex cameras also have some disadvantages. In general, this type of camera is heavy and large. This can sometimes make it annoying to carry the camera with you. This type of camera is also far more delicate and requires greater care, so they are not suitable for use in extreme weather situations.

Advantages
  • What you see through the viewfinder is what will appear in the picture.
  • They have a larger viewfinder, so you get higher quality pictures.
  • They have interchangeable lenses.
  • They allow more control over the various parameters of the camera. For example you can adjust the shutter speed, aperture, ISO and white balance.
  • There is no delay between the moment the picture is shot and the moment it is taken.
  • In low-light conditions, DSLR cameras allow you to capture images with less ‘noise’.
  • The startup of the camera is almost immediate, so you won’t miss an opportunity to capture the moment.
  • They’re much more ergonomic and comfortable to use.
  • They usually include a RAW format, consisting of an unprocessed file.
Disadvantages
  • Given all the functionality and features they offer, their price is often higher than that of compact digital cameras.
  • The price of lenses is also very high.

Is it worth buying a reflex camera?

If you are an enthusiast or a professional photographer, you probably have a quick answer to this question. In our opinion, this type of camera is worth buying, especially if you have or are keen to learn the necessary knowledge to take advantage of technical equipment such as a reflex camera. The difference in the quality of the photographs is incomparable.

David BaileyFamous British Photographer

“Anybody can be a great photographer if they zoom in enough on what they love”.

Who should buy a reflex camera?

Reflex cameras are recommended for all those people who want to take high quality photographs, thanks to their powerful sensors. More specifically, these cameras are ideal for photography enthusiasts with advanced knowledge and for those who want to make the leap to professional photography.

What is the importance of a reflex camera lens?

One thing that cannot be forgotten: after the camera, the lens is the most important element in a photographer’s set of equipment. Some experts say the lens is even more important than the camera itself. Its importance is due to the fact that it is the first place through which light passes. What’s more, as the light passes through the lens, it undergoes changes and alterations, that are minimised by a high quality lens.

With all this in mind, it is no wonder that the lens is a key element when taking photographs. This is why it’s best to choose a good quality lens. Keep in mind that most lenses that are included with the camera are usually quite basic or entry-level.

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We recommend that over time you buy a higher quality lens.

What modes does a DSLR have available?

Virtually all DSLRs offer a choice of different modes of use depending on the image you are planning on capturing. Thus, a clear distinction can be made between an automatic mode, a series of predefined modes and manual or semi-manual modes. The preset modes are programmed for use in a number of specific circumstances that the manual usually helps to define.

The manual or semi-manual modes are for full control of the camera. Of course, they are also the most complicated to use but can potentially provide you with the best quality photos. In order to use these modes correctly, it is necessary to master at least some basic photography concepts. Remember that it is in manual mode that you can capture the most impressive photos.

Reflex cameras will allow you to take better quality pictures than compact cameras.
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What types of stabilisers do DSLRs use?

Image stabilisation is necessary to correct camera shake. These movements can be involuntary by the photographer or small vibrations from the earth that will affect the quality of the image. Normally, image stabilisation is necessary in two situations: when using a slow shutter speed or when using a telephoto lens.

During these situations, if the camera does not have correct image stabilisation, the image may be blurry or distorted. To correct this from happening, DSLR cameras can feature one of two image stabilisation systems: the optical stabiliser or the mechanical stabiliser. The following table explains each system further:

Optical stabiliser Mechanical stabiliser
Uses This is usually used by Nikon, Canon, Panasonic and Leica. It has been adopted by camera manufacturers such as Olympus and Sony, among others.
Description Consists of a displacement system located within the lens. These lenses detect and correct camera movements automatically. Image stabilisation is achieved through the adjustment of the image sensor.
Advantage Offers the advantage of being specifically tailored for each lens, although you will need a seperate stabiliser for each lens. Since stabilisation takes place in the camera body, the camera remains stable regardless of which lens is being used.
Performance Usually offers higher performance. Overall, the performance is slightly lower.

What accessories are needed for a reflex camera?

To get the most out of your DSLR, you’ll need a number of important accessories. Depending on your needs, some accessories may be essential from the moment you buy the camera, while others may be incorporated gradually into your photographer’s kit.

Among the first, there are the memory cards and, of course, a good lens to replace the one that comes with the camera. After these two purchases, other accessories you should consider are tripods, external flashes, filters, extra batteries and even external/remote triggers.

To get the most out of your DSLR, you’ll need to buy a range of extra accessories to suit your needs.
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What care do reflex cameras require?

As you can imagine by this point, reflex cameras are very specialised pieces of equipment, but also delicate. First of all, it is very important to store and transport the camera in a camera bag or backpack specifically designed to protect it from moisture and dirt. Whilst using your reflex camera, it is highly recommended that you use it with a neck strap to prevent accidentally dropping the camera.

When owning a camera of this type for a long period of time, it is often necessary to clean the reflex camera sensor. This can be done by a trained service technician or by yourself. If you plan on cleaning it yourself, you should take special care to ensure that you do not to damage the equipment. The final special care requirement of reflex camera is the battery. If you know that you are not going to use the camera for a while, it is better to remove the battery.

Shopping Criteria

When the time comes to purchase your new reflex camera, it is important that you consider a number of purchase criteria. The following criteria will help you in the selection process, so that you can make a confident decision. We also hope that this criteria will serve as a guide for you to find the perfect quality-price ratio of your purchase.

  • Use
  • Sensor
  • Resolution
  • Sensitivity (ISO)
  • Viewfinder and screen
  • Video Recording
  • Brand

Use

There is no doubt that the intended use of the camera is the first criterion you should consider carefully. Similarly, it is important to consider whether you actually need a DSLR camera. If you think that you are simply going to use it in automatic mode and mainly to keep some souvenir photos of your holidays, you might be interested in a simple digital camera or polaroid camera.

If you are buying a reflex camera to join the world of photography, it is important that you choose a camera that is specially designed for beginners. However, if you are an experienced photographer then you probably need it for professional use, so you’ll be looking for a camera with a lot better performance and control.

Sensor

Somehow, the sensor is the heart and soul of a camera, as it is the part that is responsible for capturing light. In the case of a sensor, size is a fundamental aspect. The larger the sensor, the more information it will receive and you will be able to capture a higher quality image. Keep this in mind as it is a very important aspect.

Currently, most DSLR cameras include an APS-C sensor, mainly used by Canon, Nikon and Sony, or the 4/3 sensor, used by Olympus, Panasonic, Leica and Kodak. However, some cameras have the full-frame (35mm) sensor. The full-frame is a larger sensor and is usually available in professional photography equipment.

Resolution

When talking about the resolution of cameras, you often think about megapixels. In general, the more megapixels, the higher the resolution and the more details the image will have. However, the quality of the image does not depend solely on the megapixels. As previously explained, the size of the sensor is equally, if not more, important.

A camera with a larger sensor will offer a larger area per pixel and therefore more quality and sensitivity. In any case, you should also keep in mind that a picture with more megapixels will take up more size in terms of storage. This will require a storage card with more space and more room on your computer for storing all your images.

Remember that it is often necessary to clean the DSLR sensor, you can do this yourself or go to a professional.
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Sensitivity (ISO)

The ISO value of a camera indicates the sensitivity of the sensor to light. If the camera sensor has a high value, around 3,200, you can take photos in low-light conditions. On the other hand, a lower ISO value, around 100, is suitable for taking pictures in good lighting conditions.

However, a very high ISO value leads to much more ‘noise’ in the image, as more light enters the lens. As a result, you need to know how to use a camera with a high ISO value in order to capture quality images. Generally speaking, with a wider ISO range you will be able to capture images in a wider range of lighting conditions.

Lord SnowdonBritish Photographer

“I think a photographer should be a chameleon or a fly on the wall”.

Viewfinder and screen

Through the viewfinder of the camera you can see the photograph before capturing the image, hence it is vitally important. An optical viewfinder will allow you to see what you are going to photograph thanks to a system of mirrors that reflect the image into the viewfinder. A screen or electronic viewfinder will show you the image on an LCD or OLED screen.

Not all viewfinders are the same. There is actually a big difference between those available. The size and clarity of the image seen through the viewfinder can vary greatly depending on the model. That’s why it’s a good idea to try out a few different options before choosing the camera you’re going to buy. Ultimately, the viewfinder will have a fundamental influence on the images you capture.

Video Recording

It is increasingly common for DSLRs to have the ability to record video in high definition. This extra feature is never unnecessary. If the camera you are going to purchase has video recording, you should check what resolution it uses: HD, Full HD or 4K. Our advice is to chose a camera with recoding abilities of at least Full HD.

Brand

The best known brands of reflex cameras are Canon and Nikon. Besides these two superpowers, Sony and Kodak are also quite prestigious manufacturers and offer high quality cameras. Remember that once you choose a brand of camera, you will most likely be linked to this brand for life.

We say this because the accessories you buy, such as the expensive lenses or tripod, are usually only compatible with that brand. Although, as in almost everything in life, there are exceptions. Brands like Sigma or Tamron have lenses that are compatible with Canon and Nikon equipment, but they have a lower price.

Summary

With reflex cameras it is possible to take higher quality photographs if you have little know-how. These cameras offer a high degree of control over the various parameters when capturing an image. This is a significant advantage because it means that they are not as accessible to the general public or as easy to use as compact cameras.

However choosing the right DSLR is not an easy task. Aspects such as the intended use, the manufacturer, the sensor, resolution and ISO sensitivity all need to be taken into careful consideration. To make it easier for you, throughout this guide we have made a detailed analysis of each aspect. With this, you can make a confident decision when buying your new DSLR camera.

Finally, if you think that this article has been useful to you in your selection process, you can leave us a comment or share it through the different social networks.

(Source of featured image: Bartolomiej Pietrzyk: 102106313/ 123rf.com)

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