Selecting a D-SLR System

Making the jump to a D-SLR opens up the world of photography in new and exciting ways.

Canon D-SLR Camera System (Source:

A D-SLR offers many advantages over a point-and-shoot compact camera in terms of speed, flexibility, durability, programmable features, and a variety of functions not available in the smaller compact cameras.

If you decide to go D-SLR, an important decision is the choice of manufacturer—Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Fujifilm, Leica, Samsung, or Sigma.

You are not buying JUST a camera body, but you’re committing to a PHOTO SYSTEM beyond the camera body itself.

All the major camera manufacturers have excellent cameras and lenses, but they are NOT compatible with other manufacturers’ systems.

The question of system expandability and support comes up if you intend to get serious about photography and need—and can afford—a variety of lenses and/or a high performance camera body.

For most serious photographers the investment in lenses will come to dwarf the cost of the camera body.

Ensure that you invest in a system that gives you the flexibility to expand to your future vision.

Nikon D-SLR Camera System (Source:

Since each camera manufacturer has its own lens mount design, it’s important to choose a system whose manufacturer makes the lenses that you will need for all photo situations both today and into the future.

If you already own any SLR lenses, that may influence your decision on which brand of D-LSR to buy.

If you are considering using third party lenses such as those made by Sigma, Tamron, and Tokina, ensure that the lenses that interest you in are available for the camera system you are considering. Just about all such third party lenses are available in mounts for both Nikon and Canon D-LSRs.

Canon and Nikon are the two leading brands of D-SLR cameras and are continually in a pitched battle to build a better camera and superior lenses.

The market leader in North America is Canon with close to 50 percent of the D-SLR market.  The number two spot is occupied by Nikon, which is also an excellent choice.

Both Canon and Nikon offer an extensive array of lenses for all its D-SLRs with more than 60 currently available.

If you intend to eventually pursue photography as a profession, both Nikon and Canon have active professional user groups, which are supported by the manufacturers, while Pentax, Sony, and Olympus have a much smaller professional support network.

Sony has long been a top manufacturer of compact digital cameras and launched its first D-SLR after purchasing Konica Minolta’s photography division in 2006. The company has developed into a major force in the interchangeable-lens digital camera arena. Sony provides a good lineup of lenses for its D-SLRs, including several excellent Carl Zeiss optics.

Once you get beyond Nikon. Canon, and to a lesser extent Sony, it becomes difficult to find an adequate assortment of lenses. Since they have a small market share they are unable to invest sufficient money to produce a large range of lenses.

The only other system I’d consider is Olympus, due to its innovative Four-Thirds system. Olympus introduced the Four Thirds System back in 2003 with a built-in sensor-dust remover. While most film-camera manufactures adapted their 35mm SLR bodies to digital use, Olympus started from scratch, designing its D-SLRs around the 17.3×13.0mm Four Thirds System image sensor.

Sony D-SLR Camera System: (Source:

Four Thirds System cameras can use all Four Thirds System lenses, regardless of manufacturer.

Electronics giant Samsung has been making compact digital cameras for quite some time and partnered with Pentax to produce a line of D-SLRs. But today, Samsung’s main thrust is its NX line of APS-C sensor, mirrorless interchangeable-lens models, featuring 14.6-megapixel Samsung-created CMOS sensors.

In conclusion, no one D-SLR system will be right for everybody; each system has its strengths and weaknesses. You just need to figure out which system will best meet your needs as a photographer.

One last word: Buying a D-SLR is only the first step in what can become a lifelong relationship with a specific camera system, so it’s important to look at the “bigger picture” when making your choice.

Please Note: This is the eighth in a series of stories on Digital Photography and RVing

Worth Pondering…

The camera doesn’t make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to SEE.

—Ernest Haas

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