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How to choose a DSLR camera

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

Get the right camera for all your needs

DSLR cameras are fantastic for shooting pictures of everything from your family vacation to your kids' sporting events to still life photos. Shopping for a DSLR can be overwhelming with so many options available. Before you make your final purchase, consider the following factors to help you find the right DSLR camera for your needs.

mom with dslr camera

Price

Start narrowing down your DSLR camera choices by setting a budget. Cameras range in price from very affordable to astronomically expensive. Set a maximum price that you want to pay and stick to it. When determining your camera budget, keep in mind that you also may need to buy accessories like batteries, filters, lenses, memory cards and other items.

Use

Probably the most important factor to consider is how you will use the camera. Do you want a general camera to shoot photos of your everyday life? Do you travel extensively? Do you intend to use your DSLR for sports and action photography? How about low light? If you go to a camera shop or electronics store, these are some of the questions the sales person will ask, so ask yourself the same things as you are narrowing down your camera options.

Check out these DSLR photography tips for beginners >>

Resolution

If you plan to print very large photos, then you'll need a camera with high megapixels. For standard sizes and posting photos on the web, a lower number of megapixels may be suitable for your use.

Size

DSLRs aren't tiny like some compact point-and-shoot cameras. However, some are much smaller than others. If you want to shoot pictures on family vacations and other trips, you'll probably want a DSLR camera that is relatively small and light. If you are looking for an easy-to-use DSLR with a compact design that delivers beautiful pictures, consider the Canon EOS Rebel T3i.

Read these tips for shooting kids' portraits at home >>

Connectivity

Getting your photos off your camera and onto your computer is generally done by USB. However, some DSLR cameras offer wireless connectivity and other options.

Additional features

QUICK TIP Also ask around to your friends and family to see which DSLR they own. Find out what they love about their camera and, maybe more importantly, what they dislike.

Most DSLRs have all the basic features, but when it comes to the extras, they vary tremendously. If you want a low-fuss option, you might want to purchase a DSLR with just the bare bones options. For low light photography, consider the camera's range of ISO settings. If you are interested in shooting action photography, then burst mode (holding down the release to shoot a burst of images) may be something to look for. The LCD size is also another feature to compare between cameras. You might not be comfortable shooting pictures with only a 2-inch screen. Many cameras come with a variety of semi-automatic shooting modes often labeled as "portrait," "sports," etc. These are also things to keep in mind when selecting your camera.

Check out our guide to shooting action shots >>

Before you purchase your new DSLR, read online reviews from both professional reviewers and actual customers. Many review websites offer the ability to do side-by-side comparisons of different models. By doing a little research and being familiar with the camera options available, you can find the perfect DSLR for you.

Family travel

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More about cameras

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Mom's guide to using a DSLR
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