First Thoughts: Nikon DSLR Camera

Nikon D3400 DSLR

So if you’ve been following The Swirl on Insta (and honestly, why wouldn’t you be?) you know that our photography game went 0 to 100 real quick after Gabby and I both received DSLR cameras for Christmas. Gabby has always done a fabulous job of curating our Instagram photos, but we were always looking for new ways to up our photography game. We were both a little skeptical of DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras, since they’re so expensive and honestly look very intimidating. Want to know how we feel about our cameras after almost 4 months of getting to know them? Scroll down and see for yourself!

First Thoughts

So do we love our cameras? The short answer is YES! The cameras are super easy to use, the quality is superb, and honestly, you look like a pro photographer every time you whip your camera out in front of your friends or at brunch (#basic, we know).

Just for reference, I received the Nikon D3400 DSLR camera and Gabby received the Nikon D5300 DSLR camera. These cameras have the same quality (24.2 megapixels), with the main difference being the screen at the back of the camera. Mine is a normal screen with buttons on the side for navigating, while Gabby’s screen is a touchscreen that flips outward and rotates so that you can see the screen with the camera pointing towards you (good for filming videos or taking #oldschool selfies). Our cameras also use lenses that are specific to our cameras, but have a ton of the same great features.

We often get questions about why we chose Nikon over Canon, and it all came down to photo quality and price! Nikon has extremely good photo quality, and the price difference between the Nikon D3400 and the Cannon Rebel T7i (both 24 megapixels with an 18-55 mm lens) is about $400!

That being said, it’s important to do a ton of research on all camera models to find the camera that best suits your needs!

Our Fab DSLR Photos

Check out some of our favorite photos below.

DSLR camera photos

Valentine's Day Cupcakes

Spring Break Photo Shoot

Park Photo Shoot

ND Campus Shoot

These are just a few of the thousands of photos that Gabby and I have taken with our cameras since December. It’s so much fun just to explore our area and find fun new photo shoot places, especially ones that are food related!

Taking Pictures & Conquering Manual Mode

It was surprisingly super easy to get the cameras up and running. There’s a comprehensive manual that teaches you all the ins-and-outs of the camera, and a ton of different camera modes available. We first started out in automatic. Automatic basically turns the camera into a regular point-and-shoot camera, and makes it really easy to take pictures with the touch of a button.

Since then, Gabby and I learned how to use the infamous manual mode. Using manual mode makes us feel real #trendy and #hipster. Plus we like to impress people by adjusting all the fancy camera buttons.

Manual mode is, well, exactly that. Instead of the camera adjusting the lighting and focus for you, manual lets you have all the control. This can be really great for settings in which you might want to brighten pictures or make them focused in the front and blurry in the back. See *artsy* photo below for reference.

ND Photo Shoot

Manual mode was really intimidating at first, but we read a few great articles (like these from Live Snap Love and B. Britnell) that make shooting in manual a breeze.

So Should I Get a DSLR?

YES!! If I haven’t convinced you already, DLSR cameras are a great investment. Initially, I was worried that I wouldn’t use mine enough to justify the price tag. However, I’ve found that I use mine all the time! A DSLR is a great excuse to find new areas (or see the same ones from a different perspective) and create a new Facebook album just for your fire photography (guilty as charged).

Plus, I’m now the dedicated friend-group photographer, which I think is so much fun. People also ask me to take their LinkedIn profile pictures or photograph their event, which is another great way to explore the features of the camera and take really cool pictures that people will love!

If you have any questions about DSLRs, feel free to reach out to me or Gabby via email ( or contact us on Facebook or Twitter (links on the top bar). And of course, take a look at our photography on Instagram. Gabby puts a ton of effort into finding the perfect photos, and it totally shows! Here’s a little preview.
Instagram Theme DSLR
I’m really excited about some of our upcoming photography, so make sure to follow us to see our latest updates!