Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Easy Step by Step DSLR Camera Buying Guide

Recently, when I was doing my window shopping at major shopping centers in Klang Valley, I have discovered that a lot of people are using Digital Single Reflex Lenses (DSLR) camera rather than compact camera. DSLR camera is becoming more and more common and I believed this phenomenon is mainly due to the fact that price has come down tremendously for past 3 years. This luxury and expensive DSLR camera in the past could only be afford by professionals, it has now become affordable to us, hobbyist.

Many of my friends are aware that I am very into photography now (or rather photography equipments) so they will seek my opinion before they actually make a purchase in Digital SLR camera. I have been repeatedly talking about what to consider when buying DSLR camera to my friends so I think it is high time now to compile my thoughts and opinions and pen them all down into this “Easy Step By Step Buying Guide” to share with everyone here. This Guide is mainly aimed for those newcomers or beginners who wanted to make their first purchase. Experts out there like you, won’t be needing this not so in-depth buying guide, don’t cha? So let’s get started.

Step 1 – Budget Your Purchase
Not long ago (almost come to 20 years … hahaha…), in my first lesson of Economy Class, my lecturer told me that ‘resources is finite but human needs is infinite’ so if money to you is not a problem, you can skip this step and advance to step 2 or even step 3. It is good to have a budget in mind when you are planning to buy something. Market is now flooded with different brands and models which makes it even tougher for us to decide. Furthermore, there is a high possibility of us being influenced by many of those not-so-accurate information from commercial advertisement.
So having a budget can actually narrow down your choice and you can concentrate on smaller scope in your search. Just to give you a rough guide, DSLR camera for entry level for beginner will cost around RM 2,000-00 whereas Mid Range for enthusiast will cost around RM 6000-00 and professional range always will cost more than RM 10,000-00.

Step 2 – Decide on Brand
I don’t want to start a brand war here by naming which brand is better than others or else I will be condemned and attacked by those brands die hard fans out there. As we all know, in the market now, just to name a few, we have brands like Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax and Sony. To me, I really don’t have preference over any brand. My opinion is to follow the mainstream, that means go for major brand like Canon and Nikon and you won’t go wrong.
The reason behind is that both Canon and Nikon has an established camera system with wide variety range of lenses and accessories for your selection. Buying a camera is not just the camera alone, you need to own the complete camera system and accessories such as lenses, flashgun, tele-converter, remote control cord, etc. So, go for either these two brands as they are come with easily available original as well as third party lenses and accessories.
Anyway, of course it is still your choice to opt for other brands but don’t say I never warn you. Don’t listen to those ‘know nuts’ sales person (sorry but no offense) who tells you which brand of camera produces sharper or softer image or which brand has a higher saturated image, bla-bla-bla… People who tell you this practically have no or minimal knowledge in digital photography. Like it or not, when you venture into digital photography, you must at least learn some basic post processing skills eg. cropping, sharpening your image, increase saturation of your photo etc. by using Photoshop or other photo editing software. I will share with you some of the simple digital darkroom skills that I have learned, in my future post.

Step 3 – Choosing Which Model to Buy
By now, with your budget constraint and brand preference, you should be left with only a handful of choice. Congratulations! You are one step closer to own your first DSLR camera. Excited isn’t? Choosing which model to buy is rather complicated because different models come with different specifications, functions and features. DSLR camera is also a type of electronic gadget that’s why you should choose the latest model closest to your budget. That’s it, it’s just that simple. Latest model always come with latest technology and new functions as well as additional features and also it will last you at least one or two years before the replacement model comes in.
Nowadays, DSLR camera has the capability to capture high definition video but is this important to you? My DSLR camera able to capture video but I have never use this feature. The whole idea to buy a DSLR camera is for you to capture good and high quality photos, right? If you are interested in video, I would suggest you to buy a cheaper Video Camcorder which does a better job and is easier to operate compare to a DSLR camera.

Step 4 – Survey for Pricing After you have decided which model to buy, next question that pops up is, where to buy? For a start, I suggest you check the selling price online. Online camera shops like Shashinki, Yamiya or even Ebay provide us a guide in pricing but of course their price will always be higher. However if you happen to bump into one which is very low in price, do you dare to make your purchase online? With the information gathered online, you can now start your weekend shopping. Don’t go to those camera shops in shopping centers that cater for tourists (sorry, can’t name names here). I don’t think they can offer you any good deals. Just try your luck in Sungai Wang, Lowyat Plaza or Pertama Complex and nego for the best deal you want. Just don’t forget to get some freebies from them like UV filter for your lenses, memory card, screen protector, camera bag and cleaning tools. Don’t accept their cheapo tripod should they offer you. It is better to ask for a discount instead because the given tripod may be good for nothing.

Step 5 – Make Your Purchase
I can just stop at Step 4 because I believe adults like us will know what to do after this. I just added this Step 5 simply because I wanted to and because I just don’t like to stop at Step 4, don’t you get it?
Some of you may ask me, why have I not mention anything about mega pixel and size of the camera sensors, full frame or APS-C sensor, white balance control, sensor noise, sensitivity, dynamic range, etc. Should we consider all these before making our purchase? All these come with a price. Rule of thumb is, the higher the price of the camera, the better they are and this is true for most cases but of course not all the time. If you have no idea about what I have just mentioned, it simply means they are not important to you, right?

Very soon by now, you will be a happy man or woman lying at home comfortably on your sofa, playing your newly purchase gadget. Welcome to the world of rich man’s hobby, get ready to burn a big hole in your pocket and seeing red in your bank account book. Good luck!


Anonymous said...

Indeed enlightening, sifu!

Rachel n Chong

Thanks Anonymous. Still far from being a 'sifu' lah.