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    Planning to buy a DSLR camera? Here's a crash course on the types and lenses


    The most basic Digital SLR will still be several notches better than the most advanced smartphone.

    ET Bureau
    Even though smartphone cameras are getting better every day, they can't overcome the laws of physics. The most basic Digital SLR will still be several notches better than the most advanced smartphone. ET gives you a crash course in types of DSLR cameras, what kind of lenses to use as well as software modifications.


    When looking for a DSLR, you should know that prices start from as low as Rs 25,000 and can go all the way up to several lakhs. While from the outside, the cameras appear similar, there is a lot of difference hidden from the naked eye

    Pentaprism vs Pentamirror

    Both these objects perform the function of taking light from the lens and diverting it to the viewfinder. Entry level DSLRs come with Pentamirrors while mid to high level DSLRs use Pentaprisms. A pentamirror is a set of plastic or glass mirrors. It's lightweight but offer poorer image quality with low brightness levels and is not very long lasting. Pentaprisms on the other hand are a single piece of glass that deliver superior image quality and higher brightness. If you are just starting out, there is no harm in going for an entry level DSLR with pentamirror. However, if you are looking to pursue photography as means of earning an income, invest more and go for a camera with pentaprism.

    Sensor Size

    For DSLRs, there are typically two sensor sizes: APS-C and full frame. APS-C size sensors are smaller than full frame and used in entry to mid-range DSLRs. Full Frame sensors are used in high-end cameras — called so because the sensor is the same size as a full frame on 35mm film. Larger the sensor, better it is at capturing more light. For most users, APS-C size sensors are good enough – full frame sensor has its advantage but they are expensive. Typically, DSLRs with full frame sensors are priced above Rs 1,00,000.

    Build Quality

    While most DSLR appear similar with their all black finish, dials and buttons, the build quality between an entry level and pro DSLR is immediately felt when you hold them in the hand. Pro Level DSLRs are heavier and sturdier with metal alloy bodies while entry level DSLRs have a mix of plastic and metal. Most often, pro-level cameras have a weather sealed body — it can be used in extreme weather, beach or snow without worrying about damaging the internal components. Entry-level DSLR sensors and other internal components are much more susceptible to damage on a beach or even near a swimming pool.

    Image Processing

    An image processor takes care of a number of things while you take photos: noise reduction, image sharpening, colour rendition and so on. However, there is a limit on how many images you can shoot at one go (usually denoted by continuous shooting speed in frame per second) before the processor gets overloaded and starts taking time to process further images. Pro level DSLRs get a more powerful image processor with more of a memory buffer compared to entry level ones. This means they can focus faster, shoot faster and save the image to the card faster.

    Autofocus Points

    A DSLR has a fixed number of autofocus points. Typically, the higher the number of autofocus points, the better, faster and more accurate the autofocus is. Entry level DSLRs usually have between 9 to 11 focus points, a mid range DSLR has around 45 to 51 focus points while a pro level DSLR can have over 100 autofocus points. Using manual focus, you can keep the exact area you want to have in focus on a Pro DSLR enabling a soft background blur or bokeh effects.


    Remember to take good care of your DSLR and lenses — dust and moisture/humidity are the biggest enemies of the DSLR.

    A DSLR is as good as the lens you use with it. You can even get amazing results with an entry-level DSLR if you are using the right type of lens. By default, most consumer use DSLRs come with 18-55mm lenses which is ideal for amateurs and newbies. There are different types of lenses available depending on what kind of images you want to click.

    Prime Lens

    A prime lens has a fixed focal length (50mm, 85mm etc.) with a high aperture value (f1.8, f1.4 etc.). These lenses are ideal for shooting portraits or product images where you need the subject to have sharp details while the background is blurred.

    Zoom Lens

    For users who like to travel and want to shoot objects from a distance, a zoom lens is ideal. In a zoom lens, you get variable aperture — the more you zoom, the smaller is the aperture. Since there are number of elements involved in a zoom lens, it is heavy to carry and also suffers from loss of image quality compared to a standard or prime lens.

    Wide angle Lens

    Wide angle lenses are ideal for shooting landscapes and architecture. These lenses are similar to prime lenses in terms of image quality but have a variable focal length starting at 24mm onwards. Since it has a wide-angle lens, resulting images have a curved effect towards the edges. This can be desirable in some cases.


    Just like a computer or a phone, the DSLR also runs on a proprietary software. Each brand offers its own software and while the overall control scheme is the same, the user interface is different for each brand. The catch is that the DSLR manufacture can also limit your camera's capability with their software even if the hardware is capable. This is where you can choose to mod your DSLR's software to run a customized interface that offers hidden features and superior controls over the hardware. Canon users can check out www.magiclantern. fm — the site offers software that can run on your DSLR from the SD card directly. The site lists down supports DSLR models and there is detailed documentation available on how to use the software.
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    4 Comments on this Story

    srishti verma137 days ago
    I like the details given by you. This information really helpful for me and for my friends, make another post on a different topic soon i will wait for it. also can you help me to find out that where to buy camera online. I want to buy one because I want to become and photographer.
    Vijay Anand1265 days ago
    Good info.
    Biju1265 days ago
    Dont buy DSLR, its getting outdated. Buy a mirrorless camera. Its cheap , functions as good as or better than DSLR and very handy. Like Fujifilm XA3 Or T20 would satisfy most of your photo needs for a casual user
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