Before I begin let me start by saying I do not plan to get very technical. I am just going to give the basics and keep this simple. I just want to express the differences between cameras. What I have found and experienced.
I got my first DSLR a Nikon D50 and thought it was a great camera. The images were crisp, nice colors and overall performance was very good. I upgraded to the D80 body and in my opinion the D50 had better color and contrast. The range seemed better and even though the D80 had more bells and whistles it wasn’t really a better camera. In fact I think the images from the D50 took much less time to correct and were more accurate.
After 2 years with my D80 I felt it just wasn’t cutting it. I wanted more, more control, better contrast, sharper images. Then Nikon introduced the D300. I waited and saved, and sold some things on eBay until I could get my D300. I love the sharp images, contrast, and range and even though the white balance isn’t perfect it is much, much better. I am glad I chose to move up to a pro model even though the return will take a LONG while.
Those of you reading this so far might be thinking why I would get a consumer camera. If a pro camera is that much better why not just get the higher end camera? First we are talking two or three times as much money and that is a huge factor. The second reason is the consumer cameras have simple pre-set programs that allow you to quickly change the setting and get the shot. Consumer cameras are more automatic and easy to use. They are by design made to be simple. A consumer DSLR also has some features found on higher end camera. You can, should you choose, set the camera in manual mode and have a set of features similar to a Pro camera yet slightly less advanced. These cameras are best for beginners through serious enthusiast or as an entry level camera for those wanting to go pro.
For those people who are on the fence about the extra money of a pro camera here are some key differences. Sensors, focus zones and processors are normally much better giving you higher quality, range and contrast. This may not be the case in the high end consumer models that may have some pro features. Pro cameras tend to have a better make and feel solid, not like cheap plastic. Most pro models are weather resistant although I would never want to test or suggest you trust a $2000 camera body to exposure. Pro cameras allow you to use wireless networks, wireless flash, studio flash, GPS devices and a variety of additional accessories. The feature set or camera settings are incredible but this also requires more time to understand and more time change these settings. Some of the features go into great details requiring a great knowledge of photography techniques.
This has mostly been about camera bodies. I suggest as always reading reviews, checking forums and other resources before you buy. I also tell people you need to pick up the camera, take a few shots, check the handling to make sure it works for you. All cameras are different and just because it gets a great rating doesn’t mean it’s going to feel right when you use it. The other big thing is don’t be swayed by brand!!! You have people that only buy one brand because that is what they have always used. If you have nothing to start with check them all. Today most cameras have many of the same features so make sure it feels right and the controls work for you.
Once you pick one most likely you’ll stick with that brand simply because it cost too much to replace your accessories. Now for the big, most important thing you should do when testing. It is very important you test each camera with the same/equivalent lens. If you test one with a kit lens and one with a high-end lens or pro lens there will be differences. The lens will make a HUGE difference…did I say HUGE difference? Once you get into photography you will soon find not all lenses are equal. Just because they are both 18-80 zoom lens there is a reason one it $500 more. But that’s a topic we’ll save for another time.
Thanks for reading!