Do you love photography and want to develop your skills? Then it could be worth buying a reflex camera for beginners. We introduce three popular cameras and tell you what you need to know about photography with an SLR camera.
Would you like to deepen your knowledge of photography and would you like to buy your first SLR camera? We will tell you what makes a camera with a SLR special and how manual photography works. We also introduce three popular entry-level SLR cameras to help you choose the right camera.
Why an entry-level SLR?
A single-lens reflex camera is named after the mirror that is used inside the camera when taking photos. With this functionality, the viewing and recording axes should be ideally coordinated. This means that the image section that you as a photographer see in the viewfinder is displayed on the image sensor from the same perspective. The SLR camera photographs very realistically what you would like to photograph. The large image sensor of the SLR cameras also contributes to this. The images are more detailed and can optimally capture reality in images.
There are analogue and digital SLR cameras. An analog single-lens reflex camera requires film. You then have to have this developed. A digital camera produces images that are collected on a memory card in the camera. You can then further process these images digitally or have them developed. Analog cameras are often abbreviated to SR and digital models to DSLR.
The opportunity to learn manual photography speaks for the purchase of a first SLR camera. This means that parameters such as aperture, exposure time and focus have to be set independently. This enables creative shots and great flexibility. SLR cameras also have automatic programs. In this way, the camera automatically sets the correct parameters without you having to take any action. There are also semi-automatic photo modes. The camera then takes care of setting the right aperture, for example, while you, the photographer, adjust the exposure time to suit your needs.
Important purchase criteria for beginners
Every photographer has their own preferences. However, it is worth paying attention to the following criteria before buying a SLR camera.
1. Entry-level SLR: Canon EOS 2000D
The Canon EOS 2000D is a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera. The camera is available with a standard kit lens (18-55). This makes it a practical and inexpensive SLR camera for beginners. Canon also has a wide range of lenses, so you can always add new lenses to the camera.
Tip: The kit lens is well suited for beginners. You can easily zoom in with it, and an aperture of 4 already provides nice background blur. However, this blur has its limits, as does the ability to shoot in low light. That’s why the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens is a good complement for the first SLR camera. With an aperture of 1.8, it ensures atmospheric evening shots and a blurred background. The lens has a fixed focal length of 50 mm, which means that zooming is not possible. The photographer himself is in demand and can provide exciting new perspectives through movement.
2. Entry-level SLR: Nikon D3500
The Nikon D3500 offers good value for money. The integrated Bluetooth interface enables wireless transmission of images and videos to a laptop, tablet or smartphone. You get the Nikon SLR camera with a practical kit lens. So you can start taking photos straight away. The camera weighs little, is compact and convenient for on the go.
3. System camera for beginners: Sony Alpha 6000
Many people buy their first SLR camera because they want to improve their photography skills. The eponymous SLR of the cameras implies for the majority that they can shoot manually with these cameras and produce higher quality images. In fact, this also works with compact system cameras, which can also be combined with different lenses. The great advantage of such cameras is that the image sensor is large, as in SLR cameras, but the devices are lighter and more compact. This makes them ideal for on the go. The Sony Alpha 6000 is a high-quality system camera that you can combine with various lenses from the E-mount series.
From hobby photographer to professional
SLR cameras offer the great advantage that they can be operated manually and the image quality is very high. Pictures taken with the SLR camera are suitable, for example, for large prints or for recording special lighting conditions that smartphones and the like can no longer photograph. If you would like to take pictures manually, you need to know a few basic terms and understand how they work. This is not difficult, but it requires attention and some skill at the beginning. Once you understand it, you can experiment with the camera as you wish. For beginners, it is best to know and understand the most important manual photography terms. That’s why you’ll find an understandable summary here.
The lens is the heart of the camera. It decides how your photo is shot, as the lens is responsible for exposure, aperture, focal length and focus. Setting these parameters correctly is important and requires practice. With many cameras, there is already a suitable kit lens for the camera. As you practice, you can add more lenses. Each lens has different functions and is suitable for different subjects.
If you look through the viewfinder of your SLR camera, you will see an image section that can vary depending on the focal length. This is because the focal length determines the distance between the camera and the recording plane. Put simply, this means that an object can appear closer or further away through the camera viewfinder. Changing the focal length is called zoom.
The correct setting of the exposure time depends on the existing lighting conditions. For example, if you take photos in bright sunlight, the exposure of the picture should be short. Otherwise the picture will be overexposed. In poor lighting conditions, such as in the evening or at night, the exposure time required to photograph a subject is longer. The camera compensates for low light with long exposure times. The exact exposure time always depends on the existing lighting conditions and must be set manually by you. In addition, the following applies: the longer the exposure time, the more stable the camera must be held. Otherwise the images will blur quickly because the camera takes a long time to expose and only then releases the shutter. You have to try it once and set a long exposure time of three seconds while shooting handheld. Try to stand still and not move the camera an inch. That is unlikely to work. For such assignments, photographers stabilize the camera with a practical tripod (such as a tripod like this).
Of course, you can also take photos with your SLR camera in low light. To do this, you have to increase the exposure time and adjust the so-called ISO value. Setting the correct ISO value tells your camera how sensitive the image sensor should be to light. The higher the ISO value, the more sensitive the sensor is to light and the better you can take pictures with the camera in low light.
Exposure time is directly related to setting the correct aperture. The aperture of the lens determines how much light falls on the camera lens. You can think of this mechanic as an eye. Squint your eyes, less light penetrates. The aperture takes over this function of the eyelid in the mechanics of the SLR camera. The optimal coordination of exposure time and aperture requires practice.
The aperture of a camera lens varies depending on the model. A small aperture of 1.8 means the aperture is wide open. One would say that you take photos with your eyes wide open. On the other hand, a high aperture, such as f/18, means that the aperture is wide closed. The wider the aperture, the more light falls on the camera’s sensor and the brighter the image becomes. The same applies the other way around. If you want to take photos in the dark in the evening, you need a wide open aperture and a long exposure time. For example: you want to take a photo in bright sunshine and you are on the move, for example during a city trip. The exposure time should be short, this ensures that you can take photos while walking without the result being blurred and the images being overexposed. The aperture should be closed so that not too much light can enter. However, it must not be completely closed either, because otherwise too little light will reach the lens during movement.
Aperture and bokeh effect
Would you like the popular background blur? The image looks more elegant and the main subject stands out more impressively. When choosing a lens, you must ensure that the aperture can be opened wide, because the more open the lens aperture, the blurrier the background will appear. An aperture of 1.4 or 2.8, for example, is suitable for this. The desired blurring effect is called the bokeh effect.
Three tips for the bokeh effect
There is manual focus and auto focus. You can turn it on and off on the camera lens. If you take photos with manual focus, you have the option of deciding for yourself which areas of the photo should be in focus. Auto focus does that work for you. This is convenient when you’re taking photos on the go and want to snap a quick snap. Manual focus, on the other hand, allows for more experimentation and freedom.
Accessories for SLR cameras for beginners
In addition to a first camera, investing in the right accessories can be worthwhile. So you don’t have to do without sufficient battery, storage space and stability on longer trips. Make sure when you buy your SLR camera that there are already suitable accessories in the set. If not, simply buy the individual parts separately.
As a rule, no memory cards (SD cards) are included with the purchase of a single-lens reflex camera. You should invest in a suitable SD card so that you can start taking photos straight away. SD cards with 64 GB have a good size. The writing speed of the card should be fast, so you don’t have to wait long for the image data to be saved.
If you want to take the camera with you on vacation or on longer trips, a camera bag is worth it. The camera is better protected in it. There are even pockets with practical rain protection. You can also store spare batteries and memory cards in it. So everything has its place and you can quickly find the accessories again.
A tripod is used if you want to expose photos for a long time. If you do not stabilize the camera with a tripod, it is likely that the resulting image will be blurred. Tripods allow you to take self-timer photos. The camera has a secure stand in it and can be optimally aligned. If you would like to film with the new SLR camera, you need a camera gimble. The convenient mounts stabilize the camera when you are in motion. So the recordings should not blur.
SLR cameras often only have one battery. If you want to take photos a lot and for a long time, you need one or more spare batteries. This allows you to take the camera with you on long trips without fear of running out of power.
Portable light reflector
The lighting conditions for outdoor photography are not always ideal. A portable light reflector ensures that you can make optimal use of the light, for example by reflecting the sun’s rays and illuminating a specific area of the picture. There are also different coatings so that you can create warm and cool colors in a targeted manner.
How do you get started in photography?
You are interested in a first SLR camera. This is the first step in getting closer to advanced photography. Manual photography in particular makes the hearts of photography enthusiasts beat faster. If you take manual photos, you have to learn to understand the camera and how it works. This means that buying your first SLR camera also means deepening your knowledge of photography. In this way you learn intuitively and can let off steam directly with the new camera and apply the new knowledge. Find out about the most important functions, such as aperture, exposure time, focal length and focus. Take your time at the beginning and look closely at the camera.
Don’t get upset if the first shots don’t go straight away. Adjusting the camera settings optimally to the photo conditions requires patience and practice. Just dare and experiment with the camera. Then you will quickly notice which settings work and which don’t. Most importantly, enjoy photography. This is how you develop your own style and get better and better at operating your SLR camera.
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