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Updated: DSLR and Lens Buying Guides

By dpreview staff on Dec 5, 2012 at 01:19 GMT

We've just updated our DSLR and lens buying guides to cover recent developments in both product segments. Our buyers' guides are intended to provide a helping hand when it comes to deciding what to buy, and include summaries of some of the main things to look for, and explanations of the strengths and weaknesses of various options as well as common terminology.

Buying a Digital SLR

So you've decided to invest in a new digital camera and have made your mind up that you want to step up to a digital SLR, but the huge range of models on offer and endless flow of technical jargon have left you more confused than when you started? Fear not, this page will take the pain out of choosing the perfect digital SLR for you, whether you're a seasoned shooter or a total novice.

In this guide we'll be explaining the advantages of DSLRs compared to compact and mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, and helping you to decide which features are most important, and what's the best balance of size, weight, specification and cost for you. 

Digital Camera Lens Buyers' Guide

Once you've bought a new interchangeable lens camera - either a digital SLR or one of the new breed of interchangeable lens compacts typified by Micro Four Thirds - you'll inevitably start thinking of adding an extra lens or two to your arsenal.

This is the first step to realizing the flexibility of a system camera, but with the countless options available on the market, you could be forgiven for wondering just why you left behind the simplicity of a compact camera. In this guide we'll lead you through the process of understanding the different kinds of lenses, and choosing the right one for your needs.

Comments

Total comments: 44
arunspike
By arunspike (10 months ago)

Hi, it would be great if someone assists me in buying this new lens. I own a Canon 600d(T3i) and would like to buy the following lens "Canon 0284B002 EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens". The ebay URL is: http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-Canon-0284B002-EF-S-60mm-f-2-8-Macro-USM-Lens-EOS-20D-Digital-Rebel-XT-/370797303382?pt=Camera_Lenses&hash=item56553dd656#ht_1663wt_1066

I found this product in ebay and the description says that the compatible lens are EOS 20D, EOS Digital Rebel, EOS Digital Rebel XT. I would like to know whether would it suit for EOS 600D? Does 600d comes under EOS Digital Rebel series? Please advice.

Regards
Arun(India)

0 upvotes
harold1968
By harold1968 (Dec 12, 2012)

I agree with many of the comments
This guide focuses on a fast becoming obsolete camera type
It also misses out the DSLRs with the best quality, the Pentax 645D and Leica S2.
It should really be a CSC guide, with a DSLR, FF DSLR and MF DSLR guide stuck on.
and of course it misses out the minority, but fascinating rangefinder type

0 upvotes
Peter K Burian
By Peter K Burian (Dec 11, 2012)

Yes, five years from now, I doubt most photo enthusiasts will be using DSLRs. Already in Japan and Taiwan, they sell as many Compact System cameras as DSLRs. It's just a matter of time until that will be the norm everywhere.

All of the manufacturers are doing something to improve the speed of Autofocus with such cameras. Some are already surprisingly fast ... at least with certain lenses (e.g. Sony NEX-6).

<<<Japan and Taiwan are the only countries in the world that sell more DSLRs than compact system cameras, selling at 51% and 54% respectively.>>> http://www.techradar.com/news/photography-video-capture/cameras/panasonic-predicts-cscs-will-overtake-dslr-sales-by-2015-1075160

1 upvote
Malcolm Hopkinson
By Malcolm Hopkinson (Dec 7, 2012)

A fair number of people are now beginning to see that there are alternatives to what can today be considered a "serious" camera. People will see that the newer technology brings benefits that match all the qualities of higher-end DSLRs, but without the penalties of high price, weight and bulk. Manufacturers will always try to cut costs, and electronics are considerably cheaper than glass and mechanics. It comes down to status at the present time, when we get guys totally convinced you must have a Nikon SLR to be called 'serious', one has to realize just what snobbery and a lack of knowledge exists. CSCs or Mirrorless cameras will most probably begin to directly outsell DSLRs in a couple of years' time. The essential thing is that we camera users get the satisfaction of shooting and printing our own photography. Today I have two choices in the matter - I can still use my 5D MK2, or I can use the different modus operandi of the EM5. That seems to me to be a good thing

1 upvote
harold1968
By harold1968 (Dec 12, 2012)

mostly right, unfortunately "high price" will always be associated with the best of breed, however small

0 upvotes
Malcolm Hopkinson
By Malcolm Hopkinson (Dec 7, 2012)

The message to the reader, then, is the usual one: "serious photographers buy a Nikon". I see that your guide has relegated Mirrorless cameras toward the end as an afterthought, advising us that these cameras are a virtual sub species to the DSLR when in fact this is not the case.
I have been using Canon 5D MK2 Canon T2i with various lenses, but recently purchased an Olympus EM5 with 3 lenses, a thing of beauty. The EVF is excellent and camera is small even with battery grip attached. Main point IQ is simply stunning. Now I can climb up a mountain with much lighter package, knowing full well that I can enlarge images as I want with this Mirrorless miracle, no problem. My guess is it's a similar story of reliable IQ for the Mirrorless Panasonic range including the G5. We have to change with the times

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Josh152
By Josh152 (Dec 7, 2012)

Unless you are doing mostly video a serious photographer SHOULD buy a Nikon if they are going for a DSLR. They have better sensors and better features for the same or sometimes less money, especially at the lower price points, you know the cameras anyone needing this article would probably be buying. Nikons also do many small things like spot metering, Auto ISO, bracketing, electronic level, ect, better as well.

Heck look at the 6D vs the D600 or the 650D vs the D5200. The Nikon's features really seem like they were designed with the needs of serious photographers in mind and the Canons just don't. All of canons latest releases except maybe for the 1DX have felt like they depend on brand recognition more than being competitive with Nikon on the features VS price equation.

0 upvotes
sadwitch
By sadwitch (Dec 7, 2012)

A serious photographer will use whatever tools that satisfy their shooting needs and woe betide he can only see nikon

4 upvotes
Pakio
By Pakio (Dec 10, 2012)

That is not true. Nikon have better sensors? Nikon uses the same Sony sensors you find in other cameras. For instance, the D7000 uses the same sensor made by Sony than the Pentax K5 and other cameras. As for features, the K5 have better features than the D7000 for less money.
And finally, a REALLY serious photographer would use a Pentax, Mamiya or Hasselblad medium format camera, not a Nikon SLR, which is made for press reporters and amateurs.
However, at the end, like sadwitch said, a GOOD photographer will use whatever tool he finds useful, convinient or fun.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
tesilab
By tesilab (Dec 6, 2012)

I've read the camera guide discussing the different types, and was astonished that so much of the information about mirrorless systems is out and out false!

What is with this list of disadvantages?

* "Fewer models / brands to choose from"
-- Fewer brands? Panny,Oly,Sony,Canon,Nikon,Pentax,Samsung is fewer?
* "Limited continuous ('burst') shooting capabilities"
-- is 10 fps limited? This implies bad burst speeds to the uninformed
* "Electronic viewfinders cannot match the clarity of a good optical finder"
-- this may be still marginally true, but there is no mention of the exposure/effect preview benefits of EVFs to counter this
"Current models offer relatively poor low-light performance"
-- this isn't defensible given comparable results for the same sensor sizes on DSLRs.

Also, I realize RX1 is new, but the flat out statement that FF is only available in DSLR format, is just not the case. Is this recycled text from years ago?

8 upvotes
choochoo22
By choochoo22 (Dec 8, 2012)

Agreed, and to that I would add:

"the 1.5 / 2X crop factors of mirrorless ILCs offer less control over depth of field than full-frame DSLRs" While true, this is a function of the sensor size and not the mirrorless format. The same could be said about some of the most popular DSLR models (with mirrors) from all the major manufacturers. It isn't a mirrorless disadvantage.

1 upvote
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Dec 5, 2012)

Lens dunce questions:

1) In auto mode, and other factors equal, will a camera use different mixes of shutter and aperture with an f/1.7 lens than it will with an f/2.8 or f/3.5 lens? In a semi-bright setting, might the camera use f/5 for all three? Do auto modes give greater priority to aperture or shutter speed?

2) Is an f/1.7 lens OK to use with an ND filter to get narrow DOF in a sunny scene? Or does wide aperture invite flare or other distortions wherever there is lots of light?

0 upvotes
JOrtiz
By JOrtiz (Dec 5, 2012)

There are several programs to convert Web pages into PDF files. I just use this one a few minutes ago to keep a copy of these two guides.

http://pdfcrowd.com/form/pdf/convert/uri/

Is free to use for basic and with a fee if you want to have more options, which I do not want to. I use it free.

It is very useful for me. I hope it is for you.

Also, if you use Windoes you can use Snipping Tool, which is a screen graber, but you crop (select) the area you want, and saves it as JPEG. You can write notations on the capture image. Very useful. You find it at, Start - All Programs - Accessories. I have pinned to my Taskbar and use it a lot.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
sedentary_male
By sedentary_male (Dec 5, 2012)

I would like to print this excellent guide. Is there an easy way of doing that?

0 upvotes
spidermoon
By spidermoon (Dec 5, 2012)

use the "print view" on the bottom of the page, and print it.

1 upvote
hattem
By hattem (Dec 5, 2012)

@ sedentary_male: selecting the tekst + photo's and copying these takes only 11 pages in word.

0 upvotes
sedentary_male
By sedentary_male (Dec 6, 2012)

Thanks!

0 upvotes
gl2k
By gl2k (Dec 5, 2012)

Get away from a "buying guide" but create a "teaching guide". Skilled dpreview users might contribute by writing articles that explain certain topics.

1 upvote
HDF2
By HDF2 (Dec 5, 2012)

Check under the tab "Articles", you'll find that there is already what you suggest.

0 upvotes
gl2k
By gl2k (Dec 5, 2012)

@HDF2
Thanks. My post was meant in the sense of linked information. At the moment information is distributed over different areas & channels. dpreview should aggregate all this.

2 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Dec 5, 2012)

@gl2k -I know :) we're definitely going to be working on this in 2013.

2 upvotes
Digitall
By Digitall (Dec 5, 2012)

There are various systems for various needs. Interesting to see that currently the best rated Micro 4/3 cameras are having almost equivalent propotions to a common DSLR. However in my opinion and would rather have a system APC-C than an M4/3, mainly due to the sensor. The X system from Fuji or equivalent would be a good option.
Most people who have Micro 4/3 never handled a DSLR seriously.
However I prefer the FF. Optimal would be the RX1 with interchangeable lenses.
After Sony make the RX1 or similar with interchangeable lenses, the Micro 4/3 is dead, amd maybe aps-c too :)

Comment edited 55 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
JhvaElohimMeth
By JhvaElohimMeth (Dec 5, 2012)

I don't think so. Micro 4/3 is for people who don't want to carry Kilos of body and lenses everywhere. Ok an RX1 with interchangeable lenses would be nice, but 4/3 and aps-c won't die. Weight and PRICES aren't that good on the fullframe side...

5 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Dec 5, 2012)

An RX1 with a 200mm lens. Quite a sight. Quite a weight. Quite a price. Quite a chimera.

1 upvote
sadwitch
By sadwitch (Dec 5, 2012)

And most people who never handled a m43 seriously will never understand the APS-c system is clinging on to a thin thread.

1 upvote
Airless
By Airless (Dec 5, 2012)

Consumer level DSLRs don't have any advantage over mirrorless at the same price point, they have some differences sure like optical finders but to call that an "advantage" is fanboyish to the extreme, there are just as many disadvantages with an optical finder and generally the only people who prefer optical are some of those who were already used to it before trying EVF.

NEX, EOS M, and Nikon 1 have PDAF, and they all let you use DSLR lenses with autofocus via an adapter, M4/3 has a pretty deep native lens selection too, and referring to "the option of full-frame" is irrelevant because that is a totally different price level and different type of buyer. Nobody's debating between a NEX-6 or a D800.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
7 upvotes
kevindar
By kevindar (Dec 5, 2012)

Your repeated posts are simply inaccurate. the PDAF on the eos M, nex 6 etc are simply no match for that of an average dslr. the t4i with two kit lenses was selling for 700 from adorama yesterday. very good tracking for sports and wild life phtography, 5 fps with near unlimited jpeg buffer, and an aps-c size sensor, fully articulating touch screen lcd, etc. the primary advantage of the micro 4/3 and nex remains size. Not an insignificant advantage, but again, neither is a good autofocus system. btw I own an nex system with optical view finder, as well as 5d3 with assortment of lenses.the other advantage of micro 4/3 is better implementation of CDAF in movie mode (although I hear the sony slt cameras are even better).

2 upvotes
Airless
By Airless (Dec 5, 2012)

Lol, do you really not know that the EOS M has the exact same autofocus system as the T4i? Why do you think the T4i has been discounted so much? Because the only difference between it and EOS M or other APS-C mirrorless is that it's bigger and has an arguably worse pentamirror viewfinder.

1 upvote
Josh152
By Josh152 (Dec 5, 2012)

The T4i has been discounted because the real advantages it offers over the T3i and T2i before it are slim to none and Canon is getting heavy competition from Nikon. Especially in the D5200 that has Class leading IQ, AF, and metering. It has nothing to do with the mirrorless market.

Even DSLRS like the T4i or D3200 have a huge advantage over mirrorless when it comes to ergonomics, focus tracking and focus speed, lens selection, availability of constant aperture pro level zooms, ect . The optical VF which is real time and faster phase detection AF makes even the cheapest DSLR much better for action shooting then the most expensive mirrorless camera. The hybird phase detection AF on the V1 and especially on the slow as molasses EOS M are no where near the level of even the dedicated 9 point AF module in the T3. The only advantage for mirroless is it's slightly smaller and lighter. That's it.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 12 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Plastek
By Plastek (Dec 5, 2012)

"NEX, EOS M, and Nikon 1 have PDAF," - only this PDAF ON SENSOR is a joke comparing to REAL PDAF sensors. Especially on EOS-M where contrast detection is faster then it's pathetic on sensor PDAF.

2 upvotes
heypek
By heypek (Dec 5, 2012)

@kevindar
your post is complete inaccurate as EOS-M dont match NEX6 speed nor do D3100, D3200 or 1100D with Kit-Lens:
they are blown away by Lumix, PEN or NEX esp. while useing the display or video
for sport etc. just use burst mode with 8 pics/second
and.. nearly all good DSLR prime-lenses are made for FF actually using only 1/2diameter if you print 4:3

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Revenant
By Revenant (Dec 5, 2012)

@Airless
The EOS M and the T4i does NOT have the exact same AF system. Like all DSLRs, the latter uses a dedicated PDAF sensor when the mirror is down. The hybrid on-sensor PDAF/CDAF is only used in live view.

1 upvote
Airless
By Airless (Dec 5, 2012)

The advantages of DSLRs to compact and mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras:

Umm...they make you look like a rich pro? Surely nothing to do with actual photography.

4 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Dec 5, 2012)

Optical finders.... wider choice of lenses and legacy accessories... the option for full-frame... phase-detection autofocus...

But please, go on. Don't let me stop you ;)

16 upvotes
joejack951
By joejack951 (Dec 5, 2012)

Show me the MILC equivalent of a 24/1.4, 35/1.4, 50/1.2, 85/1.2, etc.

2 upvotes
Joe Shaffer
By Joe Shaffer (Dec 5, 2012)

... Seriously?

0 upvotes
oklaphotog
By oklaphotog (Dec 5, 2012)

joejack951, you mean like the 12/1.6, 17.5/0.95, 25/0.95, 50/0.95 ?

10 upvotes
RadPhoto
By RadPhoto (Dec 5, 2012)

@Barney good one :-)

1 upvote
In hydraulis
By In hydraulis (Dec 5, 2012)

joejack951:

Anything in this lot catch your eye?

http://www.ricoh.com/r_dc/gxr/gxr_mnt/index.html

Or how about a K-01 with a K-mount 50/1.2?

1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (Dec 5, 2012)

And the two plus $1000 Voightlanders save the day. They are great, but what are they f1.8 equivalent on FF?

The 50 0.95? If you mean the Noktor, I don't know one person outside of one videographers who have even tried this lens.

If you mean the SLR Magic 50 0.95 Noct. Beautiful lens but not cheap, and not equivalent to an f1.4 FF lens.

1 upvote
joejack951
By joejack951 (Dec 5, 2012)

"you mean like the 12/1.6, 17.5/0.95, 25/0.95, 50/0.95 ?"

Which, mounted on m4/3 are equivalent to 24/3.2, 35/1.9, 50/1.9, and 100/1.9 respectively. Only the last one would be considered fast as a full frame lens but you are paying the same amount for a manual focus lens from a third party vendor as you would for an autofocus Nikon (the 105mm f/2 DC). Compared to their full frame equivalents, the 17/0.95 and 25/0.95 are hideously overpriced.

1 upvote
Joe Braun
By Joe Braun (Dec 5, 2012)

I wouldn't consider PDAF an advantage at this point. CDAF has come a long way in m43 and there are no calibration issues. A few years from now, the (supposed) continuous focus advantage won't exist either.

1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Dec 5, 2012)

@ Joe Braun

I don't think Barney is saying PDAF is outright better. However, for now, the continuous focus advantage does exist and that's an advantage to DSLRs (since the on-chip PDAF systems are still at an early stage of development).

Which isn't to say CDAF can't be good (and even better for some uses), but PDAF is a thing than DSLRs have and it has advantages in some areas.

0 upvotes
JaFO
By JaFO (Dec 5, 2012)

You forgot to mention the free weight lifting exercises the DSLR's provide whenever you carry one around town.
;-)

3 upvotes
Total comments: 44