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How to find the right DSLR camera

By TechHive Staff | Dec. 10, 2013
We explain the differences between the most popular types of cameras and help you pick a winner.

Sensor Stabilization This technology works similarly to optical stabilization. With sensor stabilization, gyroscopes located in the camera body, rather than the lens, detect shake and then move the image sensor to counteract the motion. Although it's available on some point-and-shoots, sensor stabilization is more commonly used in DSLRs.

Digital Stabilization Unlike optical and sensor stabilization, which actually correct the image while you're capturing a picture, digital stabilization attempts to make a picture clearer by simply changing the camera's settings or by altering the image after it has been captured. There are several approaches to digital stabilization. One of the most useful is Intelligent ISO. Used primarily in compact cameras, an Intelligent ISO feature automatically increases the ISO, or light sensitivity setting when the image sensor detects a moving object. As a result, the camera is able to use a faster shutter speed to snap a picture, thus freezing the motion of the subject and reducing blur. A high ISO can, however, make images more noisy.

Viewfinders  Cameras come with three basic types of viewfinders: Optical viewfinder (OVF), electronic viewfinder (EVF), and an LCD screen with Live View. The first two are both eye-level viewfinders, while the third lets you preview a scene on the camera's LCD screen. Most current DSLRs have an LCD screen in addition to an eye-level viewfinder. When evaluating a camera, make sure its viewfinder is bright, that you can see from edge to edge, and that the focusing screen is clear.

LCD with Live View Live View on an adjustable LCD screen is a great feature for any time when you need to shoot over your head, down low, or in other situations where your camera position makes looking through the viewfinder impossible. If an LCD screen isn't adjustable, Live View still makes for more relaxed tripod-mounted shooting. Unfortunately, LCD screens can have reflections and glare, making them difficult to see in bright light. Also, during Live View mode on most cameras, the SLR must flip up its mirror. That means the camera loses its autofocus capability. To calculate focus, it has to analyze the image that it's seeing (Sony's translucent mirror technology solves this problem). This takes much longer than normal autofocus, so when working with Live View you'll need to anticipate your focus concerns and adjust your shooting technique accordingly.

Optical Viewfinder Optical viewfinders on DLSRs show exactly what the lens sees, but often with a small amount of cropping around the edges. They are the preferred choice for many pro photographers as they have all the dynamic range of the human eye, and no lag time. They can sometimes feel like you're looking through a tunnel, though. The optical viewfinders on more expensive (over $1,000) cameras are better quality.


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