DSLR Buying Guide – Types of Photographers

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Types of Photographers… What kind of photographer are you?

Although you may be a combination the types described below, we have a provided a general guideline to follow depending on what types of photography you predominately shoot. With all the accessories available for digital photography, it is easy to customize your system so it is the most suitable for your individual tastes and needs.

Family Photographer

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© David Nelson

Entry-level photographers who are familiar with the manual functions of an advanced compact camera may wish to enter the world of DSLRs. There may be a price jump to consider, although today there are several affordable DSLRs. They’re designed for photographers who like the flexibility of a DSLR that is still equipped with plenty of automatic features for fast, fun and easy photography.

This range of camera is designed for those that consider photography a hobby. These entry-level DSLRs are ideal for traveling, capturing family images, and experimenting with macro and telephoto photography, and allow the family photographer to be more creative.

Price Range

Look for DSLRs that are packaged with a standard zoom lens. The standard zoom lens lets you shoot in almost any situation and is a great versatile lens for general purpose photography. Cameras in this range are approximately $1000 for a full kit and under $800 for just the body.


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A fast shutter speed and burst mode can freeze the action perfectly

The sensors in these cameras are larger than point and shoot cameras but are still lightweight and smaller than the professional DSLRs. With 6 to 8 megapixels, you can print up to 10″x14″ photographs with excellent quality and 14″x17″ with good quality. There are many automatic features available for the times when you don’t want to experiment with the manual options.

Predominately constructed with a plastic body, these cameras are not weather resistant but have a decent burst rate of at least 2 fps. The autofocus will be sufficient for most applications.

Amateur and Semi-Professional Photographer

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Mid-Range DSLRs are great for close up photography

Entry to mid-level photographers who are highly interested in exploring digital photography, budget conscious and want the ability to explore photography as a professional. Cameras in this range may overlap entry-level suggestions but have the added benefit of more advanced features and better lenses.

Photography is your passion and you may have submitted photos to be published, participated in gallery shows, or shot the occasional wedding or event. Although serious about your work, you’re working towards becoming a full time photographer when you’ve developed your portfolio and established your name in the industry.

Price Range

In this range, there will be kits that include multiple lenses from either the same manufacturer as the body or coupled with third party lenses. For kits with only a single lens, the lens quality increases including such features as image stabilization and coated glass designed specifically for digital lenses. In this range, expect to pay $1,500 to $4,500 for a kit and $1000 to $3,000 for just the body.


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Semi-professional DSLRs can capture superb detail and show contrast in textures for stunning images © Simona Balint

Although usually bulkier than the entry-level DSLRs, many compact models that are fairly lightweight. With a range of 8 to 10 Megapixels you can print up to 16″x20″ with excellent quality and 20″x24″ with good quality. This better quality will allow you to submit your images to local newspapers or magazines and permit greater cropping ability.

Your budget should allow for some more advanced features such as a heavy duty body and more rugged lens. Although still perfect for traveling and family portraits, these cameras have even more advanced features. Because you may need the versatility to shoot outdoors, indoors, and many different environments, weather resistant bodies and lenses are essential. The burst rate of these cameras can be up to 6 fps and the cameras should be packaged with raw conversion software and options allowing you to be tethered (connected to a computer while shooting).

The built-in flash could have a longer distance range and more control features for the photographer. More information will be displayed in the viewfinder and menus. Photographers with solid understanding of digital cameras will be able to take advantage of these features. Although the output is not 100% at the professional level, great prints can be made and the image quality is far superior to that of point and shoot cameras.

Anti-Dust features which help keep dust off the sensor, become available in this range. Often histograms, which provide graphical displays of the tonal variations of the image, are also provided at this level.

Professional Photographers

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Even a simple scenic scene can produce stunning results with professional DSLRs

Budget is usually not a concern because photography is your livelihood and as a professional you need top of the line equipment to stay competitive in the industry. Whether you are a news and sports photographer or an artist, you require a large sensor in order to capture the best detail possible. The ability to enlarge your images to large banners or prints for gallery shows is very important.

Price Range

The sky is the limit, because the sensor chips are the largest in the market, it’s no wonder that the camera itself is very large. Because of the wide range of photography types, these professional bodies generally do not come in kits. They range from $3,500 to $8,500 for the body alone and are compatible with many professional lenses. Photographers purchase their lenses separately to suit their individual needs.


Designed for fast photography with super high quality image capturing, professional DSLR cameras offer astounding results and the fastest shutter speeds possible. With between 10 and 16 megapixels, large format prints can be made with excellent sharpness and colour. Larger colour gamuts are available over the other DSLR models and advanced features such as shooting JPEG and RAW simultaneously is available.

More information is displayed in the viewfinder, which provides more information and allows the photographer to capture images quickly instead of toggling around in the menu options. Frame rates are up to 8 fps, ideal for sports and wildlife photographers . The body construction is more durable and usually made out of 100% metal or a hybrid of metal and plastic. In this range, it is most likely that the body is also weather resistant.

For JPEG shooters, white balance controls can be finely tuned and the ability to shoot tethered is standard.

Is there a new DSLR in your sights?

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Soft light and a blurred background combine perfectly in this floral close-up

Whether you’re just entering the DSLR world or upgrading your existing DSLR equipment, it’s all about creativity and control. And the potential is virtually endless. The professional photographer can deliver spectacular results for publications and high quality fine art prints. Prosumers can use additional lenses and advanced controls to superb effect. The family photographer can achieve a whole new level, producing images he or she will be proud to display. With the right accessories to compliment your DSLR choice, your digital photography system will provide superb performance, whether it’s for recreation or for professional use. Happy shooting!

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