Buying Your First DSLR? Here’s a Simple Checklist (work in progress)

Recently I bought a Nikon D40, after researching for what it now seems forever! I believe that I won’t be the only one, who spent countless hours looking at the specs, reading posts in DPReview, reading even more posts, getting confused by the flame wars, abandoning the research and then finally on a fateful day, a year after wanting to buy a Fuji F30*, ended up buying a full fledged DSLR. Yes, I still sometimes contemplate on “what if I bought the Pentax K100D?” and don’t even get me started on not waiting for the D40x… Ohh well!

The one thing I totally missed out when I bought the D40 was that buying a DSLR isn’t as simple as buying a compact, it requires you to do homework beyond just the quality of image, usability and price (the never ending trade-off). There’s also the additional equipment and kit that you’ll need to purchase, it just doesn’t end with you buying the camera and the lens. So, here’s a list of what I think is additional must buy, if you are on your way to pick up your shiney new DSLR.

  1. A good and fast memory card: That would be the first thing on any serious DSLR user’s checklist. Its always tempting to use the memory card that might come with the DSLR deal, which will always almost be gauranteed to be a run off the mill card or pickup one that’s cheap. However, what you don’t want is a card that might easily break down, loosing you your precious moments because you couldn’t be bothered to spend $15 more!Why am I insisting on a fast memory card? Well from first hand experience and experiences of other people, a fast memory card is essential if you are taking picture in busrt mode. The camera buffer for burst shots can quickly fill up and if you have a slow card, writing the buffer to the card will be obviously delayed and you end up missing that one shot that you so desparately wanted!How do you know its a good card? Well as a rule of thumb, the card will usually have a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer and a read/write speed of at least 15 Mb/second.
  2. A good carrying bag/pack: No, your back pack will not do (I bet I’m going to create some controversy with this!). I did the same and now I’ve got dust on my sensor. Not to mention that, a DSLR needs extra support and cushioning. And in the future, who knows, you might just decide to pick up another lens and you’ll need carrying space for it too! Now a day, there’s a lot of choice when it comes to camera bags, from trendy Crumplers (I have my eyes on the Pretty Boy M) to tried and tested brands like Lowepro and Tamrac.
  3. A Blower: Dust is a major issue with any DSLR. Heaps have been written on how to avoid dust and clean your DSLR sensor. However, there’s one common agreement, using a good blower to blow out dust from the sensor seems to be the first step for getting rid of those pesky dust particles. The first step in a dust free sensor begins with buying a DSLR with no dust on the sensor in the first place!