Professional quality cameras, which, for now we’ll define as the newest DSLRs on the market, have many great features. On the Craftsy photography blog, I have written about what to look for and the most necessary features to have in a DSLR in a previous post. Here, I'll cover the five most over-hyped features. These are the things that likely do not matter too much to the typical serious DSLR user.
The symbols on this camera represent the automatic modes.
1. Automatic modes
The serious photographer does not use these functions. If you have a good handle on shutter speed, aperture and ISO, you will be using the manual mode or the aperture priority or shutter priority modes. DSLRs that have a “landscape” mode, a “portrait” mode or a “sports” mode do all the thinking for you. These modes take all the control away from the photographer and make judgments on speed and light that the photographer should be making. You may get a good image using one of these modes, but you’re more likely to get a good image if you use your mind and your artistic eye to thoughtfully create a compelling image rather than letting the computer do it for you.
2. Autofocus points
It is certainly helpful to have more autofocus points in some specific situations, like when your camera is moving and your subject is moving and the camera is slow to autofocus. But most of the time, you will have time to set a focus point or prefocus to get your subject sharp. No one will be able to look at your image and be able to tell whether you were using 61 autofocus points or 9 autofocus points. It may be slightly more convenient to have additional points, but it isn’t worth breaking your budget over it.
3. Built-in flash
There’s a reason built in flashes are only put on low-end DSLRs. They produce a poor quality of light and are only helpful when you have (literally) nothing else to light your image with. I would use a cell phone LCD as a light before I’d use a built in flash. The light is small and almost straight on your subject, creating hard, awkward illumination. Whether or not the camera has a built-in flash, you’re going to want to buy an external flash to use on or off of the camera to improve the quality of the light.
4. Maximum burst speed and maximum shutter speed
The maximum burst is the number of photos you can fire consecutively before the camera’s processor gets bogged down and the burst speed is how many photos per second you can take. The majority of the time you won’t max out on either with modern DSLRs. Maximum shutter speed is how quickly the shutter will open and close on the fastest setting. Every modern DSLR is fast enough for the typical user. The people concerned with the burst stats and max shutter speeds are taking photos of fast moving objects, like sports or wildlife. If you don’t have a really fast (read expensive) lens, you won’t be getting many good sports or wildlife photos anyway, so start there.
5. HD video
It is very cool that many DSLRs, even the lower-end ones, offer high definition video functions. It’s the high-definition part that get’s over-hyped. On all modern DSLRs, the sensors are big enough that only part of it gets used to capture HD quality video. You really only need a little over 2 megapixels to get HD quality and every DSLR sensor I know about far exceeds that. The more important part is that the camera’s processor can record those 2 megapixels at 30 times a second if your video frame rate is a standard 30 frames a second. Again, all modern DSLRs are capable of this, so it’s now becoming a standard feature.