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A big black body, multiple and very complex dials and controls, daunting menus and very complicated terms like metering and aperture and a price that can make any photo hobbyist shake in his boots. That was the world of DSLR cameras a few years back. If you still think of DSLR's like that â?? youâ??ve been living under a rock for quite a few years now. The world of DSLR's has dramatically changed â?? and while it may not show from the outside â?? the innards, the usage, the price points and the experience is now for everyone. If you enjoy photography, if you like the very idea of shooting a still, if youâ??ve enjoyed imagery and want to take it to the next level â?? a DSLR camera should be on your list. Hitting the bulls eye in choosing the perfect DSLR; that needs a little bit more effort.

The first question

How do you choose from a box of chocolates that all look really good. Start by asking yourself what you really want. The one with fruit, the one with nuts, a really dark chocolate or something smoother. The world of DSLR is very similar. Just focus on the kind of pictures you will be taking the most. Action, Sports, Portraits, Landscapes, Travel, Outdoor, Fashion etc. Once you'??ve got your focus right, you?'ll be able to reduces the number of features you have to evaluate. The rest will fall into place.

Sense about Sensors

This is the big one, literally. By default a larger sensor size means the camera will be slightly more expensive. But if you want a better low light performance and higher quality images then a bigger sensor size becomes imperative. This is a critical part of any DSLR and one that you must look into very carefully.

ISO: your savior

ISO refers to the light sensitivity of your camera's sensor. If that sounds like goobledook to you â?? then lets make it simpler. A higher ISO rating will ensure that your subject is much brighter as it takes the light received by your camera's sensor and enhances it. Cameras that are capable of higher ISO settings are preferable as this can help you capture image even in low lighting conditions. You do need to remember though that in case the sensor size is small, as is the case with most entry level DSLRs, higher ISO setting may lead to a lot of unwanted noise and grains in your picture. There's only so much a camera can do to enhance the light â?? at the end of it â?? the sensor must have enough surface to receive light to do its magic.

Control Freak

If you'??re just starting â?? then the manual features may not appeal much â?? but let me put it this way. The reason to buy a DSLR is to have 100 percent control over your picture. And that will only come with 100 percent manual controls. You may not need it all â?? but in different circumstances â?? youâ??ll need different parts of that control feature set. Thus daunting as it may sound â?? look for a camera that gives you as much manual control as possible.

There's a Lense for that

The sexy side of the DSLR cameras. Lenses. Beautiful big ones, short and stubby ones, huge telescopic ones â?? yes this is why you get into DSLR mode. This is a complex world though and it will take you time to gain momentum and make sense of the lenses available and what each is capable of. Do extensive research if you are a first time buyer as what allows your photography to grow is the lenses you compliment the body with. Another factor to take into account is the companyâ??s own lens portfolio, along with the kind of support offered by third-party lens makers.

The New Big factor: HD Video

People bought DSLR for one thing and one thing only. Still images. No longer does that hold true. Many are buying it only for the amazing HD video recording that is possible. Movies are being shot on DSLR's as are TV shows. This has now become a prime feature in DSLRâ??s cameras now. If you shoot video, then you have to have a camera which supports HD recording which can be 720p or 1080p. Also make sure that these cameras have focus tracking or continuous focus features within video shooting.

Shutter lag and Start up time

Memorize the above two terms and hit the research hard. These are the two specs that will make or break your DSLR experience. Every professional photographer will hold a DSLR in their hand and shoot off a few shots and immediately talk about how 'slow' or 'fast' the camera is. This is what they are talking about. Time taken to lock focus on a subject, amount of time before the camera is ready for the next shot â?? are critical. Also a camera having a fast start up-to-first-shot time is a big factor.

Have it 'RAW'

While most cameras save image files as JPEG format, your quest must be to buy a camera that can save in RAW format as it preserves all the data in your image. A RAW image will give you a much wider range of settings to play around with than a JPEG image. But remember RAW images occupy more space on your card than a JPEG file, so make sure your card is of the appropriate capacity.

Importance of Ergonomics

A DSLR camera is not a frequent purchase, so play around with the camera before making the buying decision. While comfort is prime, do keep in the mind other factors like weight, built quality (with magnesium alloy being the top choice), splash resistance, weather sealing, auto lense cleaning etc.

DSLR's will open a whole new world for you. A world where images transform to magic and pictures tell a different story. All you need is to make sure you choose your magical toll with some precision.