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Should you buy a cheap twin lens DSLR kit this Black Friday?

If you're thinking about getting into photography a little more seriously, then Black Friday is a great time to think about getting a cheap deal on a new camera.

For those looking to flex their creative muscle, an entry-level DSLR is still a great way to get into photography despite the growing popularity of mirrorless cameras - and you can find a brilliant discount on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Not only do entry-level DSLRs deliver a big step up in image quality over a compact camera or smartphone, but they offer far greater control of how the final shot looks. It's possible to control aperture and shutter speed creatively to blur backgrounds, freeze action or capture everything in pin-sharp focus. If that sounds like a little bit of a jump from your smartphone, don't worry, as entry-level DSLRs can be used like a pin-and-shoot compact thanks to a variety of auto modes on offer.

Perhaps the biggest selling point is the fact that you can swap lenses so you can pick the right lens for the subject you're shooting - a wide-angle is great for landscapes, while a telephoto lens will be more suited to portraits and filling the frame with your subject. 

If you're buying an entry-level DSLR, while it is possible to buy them body-only, most are bundled with a 'kit' lens. This compact lens offers a standard zoom range of 18-55mm, which is suited to everything from wide-angle shots (great for landscapes, group shots and architecture) to moderate telephoto (suited to portraits).

Twin lens DSLR kits on Black Friday

During Black Friday 2018 though we're expecting some very tempting deals on twin lens kits with entry-level DSLRs like Canon's EOS Rebel T6 (EOS 1300D) and Nikon's D3400

This sees the 18-55mm lens supplemented by a telephoto zoom lens - something like a 70-300mm or 75-300mm.

For most people a telephoto zoom is the next lens most people are thinking about getting as it will allow them to zoom in much further, making them good for wildlife, sport and action, so a combo like this can be a very tempting proposition.

What about image stabilization?

Pay close attention to what you're buying though. When you're using a lens with a long focal length like this, camera shake can be an issue, as any camera movement is magnified. Anti-shake systems are essential to help reduce this, with image stabilization systems counteracting any unwanted movement when you shoot. 

This is when you need to look closely at a twin lens DSLR deal as more often than not the bundled telephoto lens will not feature this functionality. Both Canon and Nikon tend to make the same lens in two different versions - one features image stabilization, while one doesn't. This makes them cheaper to manufacture as the gyroscopic system in the lens isn't required, with some of that saving passed on to you. 

How can you tell? Canon calls its system Image Stabilization (IS), while Nikon refer's to it as Vibration Reduction (VR) and if it's featured, it'll be mentioned in the name of the lens. For example, the Nikon AF-P DX 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED doesn't feature it, but the Nikon AF-P DX 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR does. 

It's a similar story with the bundled 18-55mm kit lenses - DSLRs can be bought with either image stabilized versions of the lens, or a non-image stabilized version, with the latter tending to be included in the twin lens kit deal to help keep the cost down.

This does make the price more tempting, but if you want our advice, stick to the single lens kit with a stabilized version of the lens and then during Black Friday, look for a deal on an additional lens that's sold separately. 

This can be a telephoto zoom of course, but we'd look to get something like Sigma's 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM | A or Nikon's AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX. These don't feature image stabilization, but they do feature a significantly fast maximum aperture, giving you much more creative freedom to help you get the most from your new camera. 

Phil Hall

Phil Hall is an experienced writer and editor having worked on some of the largest photography magazines in the UK, and now edit the photography channel of TechRadar, the UK's biggest tech website and one of the largest in the world. He has also worked on numerous commercial projects, including working with manufacturers like Nikon and Fujifilm on bespoke printed and online camera guides, as well as writing technique blogs and copy for the John Lewis Technology guide.