If you've been dabbling with your point and shoot camera, buying first DSLR in your life would be your next step in photography. It should be said that a DSLR camera will not make you a better photographer, but the camera can make it easier to carry out the pictures you imagine.
You'll have to practice and gain the skills to become a better photographer though. That can't be given to you with a camera purchase.
Brand of Camera
The best camera on the market is up for debate. Nikon lovers will call theirs the best, and Canon lovers could tell you for hours why their camera is better. There are also Sony, Pentax and Olympus cameras too. The camera that works best for you might not be the best for someone else. It's often a personal preference. However, I recommend Nikon and Canon.
It can be difficult to decide on the amount of megapixels you need when purchasing your first DSLR camera. It depends on how you'll be displaying your pictures.
The higher the pixels, and the sharper the image. If you are going to print your pictures as large prints at 14 x 11 inches or beyond, you'll need to be concerned with the dpi or dots per inch.
Dpi is the dots per inch and relates to how pixelated an image appears to the viewer. Normal printed resolution is 300 dpi. For a 14 x 11 image, 300 dpi multiplied by 14 inches equals 4200 and 300 dpi multiplied by 11 inches equals 3300. This will give you an image size of 3300 x 4200, which equals 13.8 megapixels for your camera.
This is the camera's sensitivity to light which you can learn more in exposure triangle. A high ISO allows photographers to utilize the existing light without a flash or exterior lighting options. It's great for spontaneous indoor shots without proper lighting, or outdoor night scenes.
If you're taking studio portraits where you'll be providing proper lighting, high ISO will not be a priority. Outdoor event photography, weddings and indoor parties are where a high ISO performance would matter.
Comfort of the Camera
Long before you make a buying decision, head to the store and get a feel for the camera's weight and bulkiness. Check the accessibility of the menu options too.
The controls and features should be accessible while you're taking your shots. You shouldn't need to contort your hands into pretzels to make changes to the menu.
Imagine carrying the camera around during a day of shooting. If it's bulky and awkward after a few minutes in the store, it'll be worse in reality. Check the menu to see how intuitive it is, or how much of a learning curve you'll have when first starting out with the new camera. It could influence your decision.
Body and Lens of the Camera
The camera's lenses are the most important part of any camera. It can make sense to get a basic camera body and spend more on a few quality lenses.
If you have the choice to buy an expensive camera and cheaper lens or a cheaper camera and expensive lens, go with the cheaper one and use the rest of your budget for the lenses. The lenses will help with image sharpness and focus more than any other feature on the camera.
The first DSLR camera you buy can be a daunting decision, but testing them out at the store before buying is important. You won't be able to make a decision based on the opinions of others. You'll need to test them yourself and think about the types of shooting that you plan.