The Semi Professional DSLR

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

Semi Professional DSLR Rear Screen

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 price...an 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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Compared to (now ancient) 35mm Film? With the new breed of 90+MP and above DSLR's and Mirrorless cameras, I can say that from my experience, we have reached and massively overtaken medium format 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.

  • 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
  • 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:

  • Filters
  • Remote control capabilities (WiFi)
  • Dedicated flashguns
  • PC sync sockets
  • 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.

I want a Semi Professional DSLR, 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):

  • £1200 for the Canon EOS 90D 24.2MP kit (includes 18-55mm lens, 4k Video at 30 frames per second)
  • £1149) for the Nikon D7500 20.9MP (includes 18-140mm lens and 4K UHD Video Recording at 30 fps)

On top of this you may have to include at least one other lens to really 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 90D or an older 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 D780 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 5D Mark III or 5D Mark IV for wedding photography.

What about mirrorless?

Semi Professional Canon Camera

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:

  • Lighter
  • Smaller
  • 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:

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 Cameras


Digital Compact Cameras

Advanced Digital Compact Cameras


Advanced Digital Compact

Professional DSLR 5D IV


Professional DSLR

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