1. Start by taking the time to consider your needs, ask yourself some of the following questions so that you know what you're after:
    1. What is a realistic budget for you?
    2. Will you be doing different types of photography (portraits, action shots, landscapes)?
    3. Will you be shooting in different types of settings (indoors, outdoors, low light)?
    4. Is size and portability important to you?
    5. Are there any specific features that you are interested in?
    6. What are your 'must have' features and what features are simply just 'nice to have'.
  2. Some features you should consider (try to match these to the above needs). This is not intended as an exhaustive list, once you have identified the features that will suit your needs take a little time and find out more about them – this is only meant as a basic overview:
    1. Megapixels and processor: what the camera records in and how it is processed will greatly effect your abilities to manipulate the exposure and color in post production.
    2. Battery life: lithium-ion or nickel-metal hydride (NiMH), tend to last the longest.
    3. Frames-per-second: 24fps is the standard framerate for cinema 30fps for broadcast. 60fps is useful for speed ramping when you want a nice smooth slow motion in post production.
    4. Image types: Some cameras output a quicktime file while others put out a camera-specific file and needs processing before one can edit the footage. Know what the process is to get your footage ready for editing.
    5. Exposure control type: With video. more control is better. Some DSLRs don't give you full manual control during video recording.
    6. Light sensitivity: This varies between cameras. Full sensors give you the best light sensitivity.
    7. Weight – obviously a factor if you are carting it around a great deal.
    8. Storage media: a 16gb card hold about 40 minutes worth of video.
    9. Recording time limit: Recording time per video clip varies between camera.
  3. Can you get a package deal? As you investigate what camera to buy it is useful to keep an eye out for good deals or packages on some of the more common or useful accessories. Keep in mind that you will likely be buying some (if not all) of the following items at some point, so if it is possible to get any of them included when you make your purchase then all the better. Some of the most common/useful extras you should consider are:
    1. Camera case
    2. Memory card
    3. Spare Batteries/Recharger
    4. Lenses
    5. Filters
    6. Tripods/Monopods
    7. External Flashes
    8. Reflectors
  4. Read as many reviews as you can, once you find a camera that seems to fit the personal profile that you have put together then find at least 3 reviews that you feel you can trust. Some good sources for information on cameras include online forums and blogs. Never be shy in soliciting the advice of senior members in these groups. These people often have a great amount of experience and are usually willing to share their knowledge in helping you with your buying decision.
  5. Some websites that provide good reviews on camera equipment.
    1. CNET Reviews – reviews.cnet.com/dslr-buying-guide/
      This is a great in depth guide that can help you pick out what features you need and they have great equipment reviews too.
    2. Digital Photography Review – www.dpreview.com
    3. Cameralabs – www.cameralabs.com
  6. Useful groups and/or blogs that have information and/or members who will give you their opinions on cameras to purchase:
    1. DSLRCinema on Vimeo – vimeo.com/groups/8432
    2. Planet5d – review.planet5d.com
    3. DSLRCinema – dslrcinema.com
  7. Now after you have visited some of these blogs and read the reviews take some time to get some hands-on experience. It is definitely worth your time to visit a local camera shop and actual handle the cameras that you've been reading about. Get to know the contenders and find out which one is a match for you.
  8. Finally, you have your finalist or finalists. Use the information that you have collected and your shopping savvy to zero in on the best deal. Don't be afraid to negotiate and if you have found a store that you really want to deal with, let them know that you have been impressed with their staff and expertise. You can tell them that you would like to do business with them but that you also want to get a good deal.