The Semi Professional DSLR

Digital SLR's For The Serious Amateur or Semi Pro Photographer

Semi Professional DSLR

When owning a semi professional DSLR camera, you can start to think about taking better photos. More professional shots and you can start to earn money if you wish. However, they come at a affordable one for many!

You know, the excitement of having my first film SLR camera at 13 years old has always stayed with me. Knowing that a new world of photography was at my fingertips and the possibilities were endless. I had the exact same feeling when I bought my first Digital SLR.

Although the cameras were fundamentally the same, the introduction of digital imaging to SLR users opened up a whole new world.

Semi Professional DSLR - The Possibilities

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    Instant review of your work - Being able to see the results of your labour at an instant means you can "Tweak" and adjust on the spot to get the desired result. No having to re-shoot! If you have never shot film, try it and see the difference
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    Ability to delete bad shots - You can fill a CF/SD/CFast card with just the shots you want to keep. No more going through rolls and rolls of film, knowing some bad ones are in there
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    Compared to (now ancient) 35mm Film? With the new breed of 15MP and above Digital SLR’s, I can say that from my experience, we have reached and overtaken 35mm film quality with digital

How do these differ from Advanced Digital Compact Cameras?

Two main criteria here, the ability to change lenses and sensor size.

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    Interchangeable Lenses - This alone will allow you to take photographs simply not possible with a lesser camera. From ultra wide angle (Fisheye) to super telephoto and Macro (Close-up), there is nothing you cannot shoot with the right lens. Ok, so the Advanced digitals have great zoom lenses, but you cannot match the quality of a separate, purpose built f2.8 lens
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    Sensor Size - The quality from a 16MP "Point and shoot" will not match that of a semi professional DSLR like the Canon EOS 7D Mk II for one reason alone. Size! The Canon EOS 7D Mk II has a much bigger sensor which means better quality. See my Digital Photography Explained section for more on this.

On top of this you have the massive amount of accessories available like:

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    Remote control capabilities (WiFi)
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    Dedicated flashguns
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    PC sync sockets
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    Pocket Wizards

Also you have exposure bracketing, a larger ISO scale and faster start-up, drive and shutter speeds. If you are serious about photography and want to enter a new level and/or earn a living, you are going to have to consider a DSLR.

Ok, I want a Semi Professional DSLR, but how much do they cost?

In my opinion, and that of many forums, photography magazines and other professionals, there really are only a few Semi Professional DSLR’s at this level that make the grade should you be wanting to make a living. When I say that I mean for functionality, quality, lens choice and robustness combined. For the serious enthusiast that will never want a full kit bag jammed with goodies, the choice is a little wider.

Prices vary from (at the time of writing):

  • $1100 (£800) for the Canon EOS 80D 24.2MP kit (includes 1080p HD Video at 60 frames per second)
  • $1,900 (£1400) for the Nikon D500 20.9MP (includes 4K UHD Video Recording at 30 fps)

On top of this you would have to include at least one lens to get you started. Go to my lens section to see the best choice of NIKON and CANON lenses.

Other recommended choices of manufacturers include;

Which Semi Professional DSLR would I recommend?

For a serious amateur looking to get started with a semi professional DSLR, I would recommend the Canon EOS 7D II or the Canon EOS 5D Mark II/III. All have great features, take the finest lenses and produce good quality prints. From the Nikon camp, I would recommend the older Nikon D700 or newer Nikon D800 all day long. then there's the Nikon D850 but that merges into the realms of professional.

For the Semi-pro looking to make a living, the keen enthusiast or anyone looking to take up photography seriously, I would have no problem in recommending the excellent and versatile (but slightly older now) Canon EOS 7D Mark II or Canon EOS 5D Mark III for wedding photography.

I had the original and superb EOS 5D Mark I camera (3 generations older now) still in my kit for many years after the mark II had come out. It is still pretty high resolution (12 megapixels), robust and produces amazing, high quality photographs.

The 7D is lacking slightly in image quality when compared to the 5D range (understandable since the 5D’s have larger, full frame sensors) but the features of the 7D are incredible! The Mark III is even better and the Mark IV…well!

What about mirrorless?

Semi Professional mirrorless cameras

Lately, many photographers, including professionals, have been switching to mirrorless cameras. As the name suggests, unlike the standard DSLR's, these cameras have no mirror. Because of this, they also have no pentaprism meaning they are:

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    Cheaper (in some instances)

I ​own a few mirrorless cameras for various reasons but mostly for 4K video. DSLR's are ok for this but due to the size of mirrorless cameras, I much prefer them for the above reasons. Whenever we go out for the day as a family, I tend to take the Panasonic GH5. It is small, lightweight and has stunning IQ for both stills and video. Plus it has some superb and fun features.

The mirrorless cameras I currently own are:

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    Panasonic GH4 (old but still great)
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    Panasonic GH5 (stunning IQ and I may be tempted by the newer GH5S)
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    DJI X5R camera for drone work (shoots RAW 4K video)!

If you are looking to get or learn more about mirrorless cameras, the manufacturers that I would recommend without hesitation are the following. You can check them out and read up on the reviews at Amazon (my preferred way of checking gear):

Also check out

Digital Compact Camera

Digital Compact Cameras

Advanced Digital Compact Cameras

Advanced Digital Compact

Professional DSLR

Professional DSLR