Must-Know Tips to Choosing a DSLR Camera

DSLR camera options can be overwhelming. There are so many different features, it's hard to know what should take priority. Many people want to get into photography but get so intimidated while camera shopping that they just give up. Please don't! I am here to help! I have a lot of parents asking me what’s best to photograph their children and children's photography is unique in that the subjects move a lot and are indoors a lot (birthday parties, sleeping, bathing, cuddling, etc) so here is my list of the features I would look for if I were buying a camera today if I were to consider versatility:

  1. Continuous Shooting Mode. Make sure the camera has it and check out it's max speed (frames per second). Continuous shooting is the option that allows you to take many pictures with just one press (and hold) of the shutter button. It's really great for sports, action, or children's photography because it helps capture things that are moving. You have a much better chance at nailing an image of someone backflipping on a trampoline with continuous shooting vs without.

  2. Low Light Capability/ISO Performance. A landscape photographer doesn't have to worry so much about this since they are mostly outdoors but with events, people, & family, so many things happen inside venues or in your home (my house is practically a dark cave) so being able to shoot in low light is important. When making comparisons, check out the highest effective ISO. This will tell you how well your camera performs in low light conditions.

  3. HD Video Mode. If you're a parent, you are probably tired of carrying half the house with you every time you leave. That's why I suggest your DSLR have an HD video mode. It's just one less thing to carry.

  4. WiFi Capability (if we're being picky). Sometimes you want to share it immediately. With wifi capability in so many cameras now, you totally can! Otherwise you have to download & edit first which has it’s perks too.

  5. Full frame (if we're being picky). This is referring to the size of the sensor inside the camera. If you think maybe one day you might want to go into business as a photographer, investing in a full frame camera now might be the best idea if your budget allows. Most photographers will upgrade to a full frame camera at some point in their early photography career. It's definitely not a must have for a beginner (I shot on a crop frame for 2 years into my business) but it would be a good long term investment if you know you are headed in that direction.

{Also helpful: How To Get Kids To Smile in Photographs: NEVER SAY CHEESE!}

Nikon & Canon Recommendations (below) - these will be updated/changed as camera models change:


Lower End - You may outgrow faster but least investment.

Nikon D3500 (sold in a kit w/ a lens)

Canon EOS Rebel T6 (sold in a kit w/ a lens)

Mid Range - Not the most expensive and won't outgrow too quickly.

Nikon D7500

Canon EOS 80D

Higher End - More $ but the better choice for those who are very serious.

Nikon D750 or Nikon 850

Canon EOS 6D Mark II

It’s also a great idea to find what you’d like and then buy used from B & H or Adorama. They have warranties on their refurbished equipment.

Regarding Lenses

I would buy the body only (vs the kit) where available and get a separate compatible 35mm lens (also consider a 50mm if you buy a mid-high end camera body or if the 35mm is unavailable). It is much easier to learn on a prime (fixed focal length lens) than a zoom.

Let me know if you have questions!

xo~ Chrystal