Guide to buying a cheap DSLR camera

These days, with the abundance of online retailers, promotions and traditional camera shops, buying a cheap DSLR camera can appear daunting at first.

If it’s not being overladen with different models, manufacturers, types of cameras, features, technology and capabilities, then it’s often sensory overload trying to take in all the details.

However, fear not, as here’s a quick guide with clear tips on buying a cheap DSLR camera that should help you find your way through the maze.

Know your requirements

If you go into any camera shop not knowing what you need, how can you hope the assistant will be able to serve you satisfactorily? Photography is an expensive hobby, and cameras can range from a few hundred to several thousand pounds, so try to narrow down your choices first.

Perhaps the easiest way to go about buying a cheap DSLR camera is to draw up a list of your requirements first, such as ….

Format

Do you need to shoot in RAW, or JPEG?

Connectivity

How will you get your photos off the camera? By using a SD card or similar and transferring manually, or instantly via Wireless/Bluetooth or an app?

Resolution

How clear do you need your photographs, and what is the minimum resolution?

Features and modes

Do you just want to ‘point and shoot’, or do you need specialist modes such as Macro, Sport etc?

Lenses

Do you need interchangeable lenses, or a fixed lens suitable for your needs?

Auto Focus

Consider how good the Auto Focus needs to be, and what modes you are likely to shoot in (e.g. movies, sports, landscape etc.) as this could determine what capabilities you need.

Image Stabilisation

Depending on your shooting needs, you may need to have good image stabilisation as standard on the camera.

Video capabilities

As video becomes more popular, more people are choosing to view (and record) in High Definition, even 4k. If you need the best video possible, look for a 4k-compliant DSLR

Sensor type

Ultimately, the quality of the DSLR is often set by the quality of the sensor (bigger normally means better)

Hardware

Do you need a basic model, or one that has inputs/outputs such as external mic sockets?

Set a budget

Once you have drawn up a list of your requirements, separate the list into ‘must have’ and ‘nice to have’, then set a budget.

When buying a cheap DSLR camera, it’s important to remember the difference between cost and value. For example, a cheap entry-level camera (e.g. the lowest model in a product line) may not always offer the best value.

Often the entry-level DSLR is available a bigger lens, or the next model up has far more features for a relatively increase in price.

Research the market

Once you’ve set a budget, then draw up a list of models that fit that budget. Check online, but remember to check ‘like for like’ as some larger dealers have exclusive DSLRS available only to them, which sometimes are better value or higher specification.

Don’t be afraid to haggle or ask to price match

Now you’ve determined your budget, it’s time to take the first real step in buying a cheap DSLR camera — approaching a retailer. Whether you do this online or at a physical shop, always be be prepared to haggle or ask the retailer if they can price match a camera’s price from another supplier.

Is it worth waiting for?

Finally, perhaps the most important step in buying a cheap DSLR camera — consider if it’s worth buying from another country, or online, as often there are bargains to be had but suppliers are out of stock.

For example, if often is possible to order from another country, taking advantage of favourable exchange rates, and wait a few weeks for delivery to save lots of money.