Does the entry-level Digital SLR remain the ultimate gateway into professional-grade photography or are you better off choosing a mirrorless camera. If you are thinking of upgrading your camera and have less than $500 (USD) to spend, here are 5 areas in which the entry-level Digital SLR remains supreme.
#1. Fantastic Image Quality
Entry-level camera’s such as Nikon’s D3500 feature the same 24 megapixel sensor as that found in much pricier models such as Nikon’s D7200 and actually features more resolution than top-tier options such as Nikon’s 20 megapixel D500.
In fact, its APS-C sized sensor is on par with any APS-C offering from any manufacturer at any price.
Canon’s DSLR’s such as the 1500D are not far behind and offer some of the nicest colour in the business. If you are stepping up from a smartphone – expect considerable gains whichever you choose.
You can buy an entry-level DSLR for just under $500 US and for much less in the sales. For your $500, you get the latest model, a top-grade image sensor, optical viewfinder, good auto-focus, and modern day luxuries such as WiFi/Bluetooth for forwarding your photographs onto your smartphone.
Whilst it is possible to pick up a mirrorless camera within the same price bracket, your options are often limited to outgoing models or cameras with smaller, less capable image sensors. As time rolls on, we can expect mirrorless cameras to become more competitive in this price segment but as of the start of 2020, the entry-level DSLR remains king.
#3. Outstanding Battery life
The D3500 can take 1500 shots between charges. 1500! In comparison, a similarly priced and specified Canon M100 is rated for 295. Unlike the M100 and many other mirrorless cameras, there is no no range anxiety with the D3500 (and DSLRs in general) and casual shooters may find themselves charging it just a few times a year.
The reason why mirrorless cameras draw so much power is that their sensors remain active throughout the photographic process. Only with the sensor on can it send a live feed of the scene to the rear screen to assist you taking the shot.
In comparison, the sensor in a digital SLR is largely dormant since you compose your photo through the optical viewfinder. Only when you take the photo does the sensor come to life and draw power.
#4. The purity of an Optical Viewfinder
All entry level DSLRs come with an optical viewfinder offering absolute resolution and zero-screen lag. In comparison, most entry-level mirrorless cameras come with no viewfinder at all forcing you to compose your shots using the rear screen.
If you recognise the benefits of shooting with a viewfinder, you may elect to pay a little more for a mirrorless camera with an electronic viewfinder (EVF) but you may find yourself unsatisfied the quality and responsiveness of EVFs attached to lower-end models. Great EVFs do exist but only on the most expensive cameras and even those fall short of the old-fashioned optical viewfinder in some scenarios.
#5. Comfortable Ergonomics
Whilst people get caught up with image quality and other technical specifications, you may find its your camera’s ergonomics that will determine whether you will choose to carry it with you or leave it at home.
Some mirrorless cameras fall into the awkward middle ground of been too large to pocket and too small to comfortably hold. Ergonomics also have a massive bearing on your photographic results. If you miss capturing fleeting moments because you cannot not lay your thumb on the right buttons or are busy diving through the menus, attributes such as image quality hardly matter.
Typically, entry level DSLRs come with a comfortable grip and their extra size offers the real estate required for buttons to be placed in a manner where they fall right under your thumb. However, the extra size does give you more to carry and you will have to ask yourself whether you are willing to suffer a little for your art.
For less than $500, you get a camera with excellent image quality, outstanding battery life, a built in viewfinder and a body built for the human hand.
So should you run out of the door and hand over your hard-earned on Canon/Nikon’s finest bargains? Right now, the answer is a definite yes. However, mirrorless camera technology is coming on strong and while the DSLR remains king today – what about tomorrow and the 5 reasons you should not buy an entry level DSLR in 2020.