SLR stands for Single Lens Reflex, a term no longer relevant these days. SLR rather means you now have complete freedom or control over each possible setting. That’s why the stress on the term basic SLR. I mean, there is no real benefit on buying a SLR which has a touch screen LCD as against a non-touch screen version! Interchangeable lens is another hallmark of a true blue SLR.
Talking about settings, there are just two of them which matter. Shutter speed and Aperture.
Shutter speed is the amount of time for which the shutter opens and allows enough light to come in and burn the film at the back. So to click a waterfall or a water fountain, a high shutter speed will be able to capture individual droplets of water. A slow shutter speed will show the water in a smooth motion as if frozen in time. Fast shutter speeds are used for a variety of situations like capturing a racing car in motion or a humming bird hovering over a flower. Slow shutter speeds are used in low light photography like capturing stars or getting some effects like headlights of a vehicle moving on the road like a laser beam. SLR again scores here by offering a feature called bulb settings, where you can keep the shutter open for as long as you want for clicking photos in extremely low light. Don’t even think of using slow shutter speeds for capturing the moon, as moon is a fast moving object!
Aperture as the name suggests, is an opening. Wide aperture allows you to sharply focus on an object keeping the background out of focus. Ideal for clicking portraits. Narrow aperture keeps both foreground and background in focus, usually used for landscape photography. Freedom to choose the focus point allows you to generate some spectacular effects like capturing a row of lamp posts with the foreground and background both out of focus and a single lamp post in the middle in sharp focus.
Choosing between the two primary vendors, Nikon and Canon is an age old debate. Do look into factors like availability of a friendly neighbourhood speciality shop and availability of accessories and service centres. Don’t even think about products from other reputed companies like Sony or Samsung, no matter how tempting the offer.
A bag to hold everything is an essential. A basic bag is offered by all vendors. But eventually you will run out of space. Check out bags which can hold a laptop and the camera stand. A waterproof cover for the bag is a good idea.
Camera stand also becomes essential to click at slow shutter speeds and wider apertures. Again avoid offering by companies like Sony. The best camera stand offered by Sony is not weather proof, which means the metal parts will rust.