A Viewfinder Darkly

Photography tips and tutorials

Choosing a Digital SLR Camera

December 23 2007

by Philip Northeast

Choosing your first DSLR involves more than just the camera, it is an ongoing commitment to a photographic system with lenses and flashguns as other key elements.

When photographers make the decision to move to a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera they are making a long-term commitment to serious photography.

DSLR camera

Entry Level Pentax DSLR

The most obvious indicator is a key feature of the SLR format is the ability to change lenses.

Moving from Film to Digital

For photographers finally making the transition to digital the first consideration is the compatibility of their current lenses with Digital SLRs. Some manufacturers changed their lens mounts when moving to an autofocus system and these can be used on their DSLRS. The exception is Olympus who introduced their four-thirds format cameras that require new lenses.

Pentax and Nikon kept the same basic mechanical specifications for their lens mount when they introduced autofocus and then digital SLRs. Most of their lenses swill work on the new digital bodies, although without all of the latest automatic features.

First SLR

A common mistake many would be photographers make is to buy the most sophisticated camera they can afford.

Often they end up with something too complicated for their limited knowledge and experience. Therefore, they are unable to utilize the advanced features they paid extra for.

Not only did they waste money on features they may never use there may be no money left in the equipment budget for all the other essential items.

Entry Level DSLRs produce quality images

Most DSLR manufacturer’s entry-level cameras are capable of producing high quality images. The main determining factors are the quality of the lens and the skill of the photographer. Burying a more expensive model in their range does nothing to fix either of those two problems.

collection of DSLR lenses

Array of lenses for Sony Digital SLRs

The kit lens bundled with most DLSR’s is built down to a price to provide a competitive package in the market place. A greater image quality gain comes from buying the entry-level model and putting the savings towards buying one of the manufacturer’s premium series lenses.

Do buy the package with the kit lens. The kit lens is a good general-purpose average quality lens, and when sold as part of a package, usually the price is a fraction of its cost of buying it separately.

The entry-level models do not have all the complicated features of the more sophisticated models, and this is a plus for photographers new to DSLRs. Less options usually means the camera designers have concentrated on providing essential features.

Any DSLR is sophisticated and complicated enough for the novice, with an array of metering modes, ISO settings, and autofocus options.

The rapid technical evolution of the DLSR means that by the time the novice has mastered their entry-level model the latest cameras will offer far better performance than the sophisticated models they originally considered. The idea of buying the best camera as a long-term investment is not practical in the volatile DSLR market place.

Nikon D3 back

Pro standard Digital SLR from Nikon

Lenses are far more important and a common practice is to keep upgrading the camera body while still using the same collection of lenses. Even twenty-year-old top quality lenses originally for film SLRs still produce top quality images on the latest electronic marvels.

originally published at suite101.com


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