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Digital SLR Buying Guide

Digital SLR cameras are more popular than ever and for good reason; they produce high quality images, offer fantastic flexibility with a range of lenses and accessories and are also very affordable.

What is a Digital SLR?

A Digital SLR camera consists of a body and one or more interchangeable lenses.

SLR stands for single-lens reflex which describes the way light is absorbed by the lens, bounced around inside the camera using mirrors and then captured by the image sensor when the shutter button is pressed.

SLR cameras are also described as " Through the lens".

What Are The Benefits of a Digital SLR?

Better Quality

Digital SLR cameras generally produce high quality images compared to a small compact digital camera. This is because:

  • the lens is larger and the glass is of a higher quality and each lens is designed for a specific purpose
  • the image sensor is also larger and can capture light in greater detail
  • SLR cameras have more manual controls to fine tune your photo

Faster, More Responsive

Digital SLR’s feature greater processing power which means the camera feels faster and more responsive when taking pictures. When you press the shutter button, the picture is taken immediately; there is no lag as experienced with compact digital cameras.

Flexible, Versatile

Digital SLR Cameras are also extremely versatile. All brands come with a range of accessories such as different lenses, external flashes and filters.

There are no limits to your creativity with a Digital SLR camera.

Are They Hard To Use?

Not at all! Digital SLR’s come with automatic options so you can simply point and shoot. As you grow more confident and creative, you can use fully manual controls with the flick of a switch.

Not that being confident is difficult. Experimentation is easy and costs nothing, simply delete shots that don’t work, fine-tune and try again!

What Features Should I Be Looking For?


The number of megapixels is not the be-all and end-all of digital cameras, and really only affect the file size of your photos. The larger the file size, the larger you can print your images.

Generally, 10-12 megapixels is more than enough for most people. 12 megapixels will allow you to print A3 photos and even larger!

Kit Lens vs. Body Only

Most SLR’s come in the form of a kit, where you get the camera body and also a standard lens that covers a typical zoom range and is perfect for most photography.

You can also buy just the camera body, and then choose a more specialised lens such as a wide angle or telephoto lens.

Image Stabilisation (IS)

Image stabilisation comes in two formats, in the camera and in the lens. Both methods help you take sharper pictures by adjusting the lens and/or sensor to counteract camera shake.

Continuous Shooting

SLR cameras give you the ability to take multiple shots in rapid succession which is great for shooting the kids running around or a sporting event.

Most cameras offer a continuous shooting rate of at least 2.5 fps (frames per second), with some able to shoot up to 8fps.


Digital SLR cameras use the same types of memory card you find in compact cameras such as Compact Flash or more commonly these days, Secure Digital cards.

Most digital SLR’s do not come with any memory included, so we recommend you buy a minimum of one 2GB memory card. Digital SLR cameras produce large, high quality images, so you want to make sure you don’t run out of space.

What Else Should You Consider?


The two leaders in the Digital SLR field are without question Canon and Nikon. These two companies have been creating photographic equipment for years and are generally considered as having the best cameras for both first-time and professional SLR users.

What Digital SLR’s Would You Recommend?


Serious Amateur / Semi Pro


Canon 1000D Canon 50D Canon 5D Mark II
Nikon D3000 Nikon D90

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