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10 Reasons To Buy a DSLR 657

Posted by kdawson
from the through-the-lens dept.
Kurtis writes, "If you're planning on getting a digital camera for yourself this holiday season, here's 10 reasons why you should choose a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera instead of a point-'n'-shoot. DSLR cameras are obviously not perfect for everyone. This article also has a couple of small blurbs about who shouldn't buy a DSLR, and a few things that could be deemed negative aspects of DSLR cameras."
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10 Reasons To Buy a DSLR

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  • Go Digital SLR! (Score:5, Informative)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:41PM (#16760281) Homepage Journal
    I can't agree with this article more. Since moving from film to digital SLRs my photography has really grown because shooting digital blows away all of the risk and gives you much more creative freedom when it comes to experimental exposures such as low light photography, action photography and more. I find myself taking far more pictures and experimenting more with digital and then simply throwing away the bad experiments than I did with film because of the costs associated with film. The other thing about Digital SLRs is that in addition to the higher quality optics, the actual imaging sensors on the CCD are physically larger leading to much higher quality images than are possible with point and shoots that may possess higher megapixel counts, but have smaller physical sensor sizes.

    If you are going to make the move to a digital SLR, I also highly recommend the Canon 20d/30d cameras as a good system to begin exploring a variety of different photographic styles from outdoors to action to macro and still life. You really cannot go wrong with some of the other manufacturers like Nikon with their D70/D80 and Sony, but Canon, like Apple tends to build the entire widget from the glass to the camera to the imaging chips. Additionally, I tend to like the color representation from the Canon Digic imaging chips. If you are planning on shooting less outdoor work or in less rigorous environments, I'd suggest introducing yourself to digital SLRs with the lower end Rebel (or Nikon D50) series which is still pretty nice hardware, just not as ruggedly built. (I've also heard rumors that Nikon is going to introduce a new lower cost D40).

    For a sample of some of the images possible with the Canon 20d/30d, almost all of the images on my blog [utah.edu] that were taken by me have been captured with the Canon 20d and associated hardware. I also have a Canon hardware list at the top of my FAQ here [utah.edu] that may be helpful for those that are interested in some of the lens options.

    The negatives that the author of the linked article writes about are also true. Hauling around all of your camera gear to various spots on the globe does get a bit harder with more (and heavier) gear. I just got back from a trip to Argentina at the foot of the Andes (pics to be posted tomorrow morning) and it does take a bit more effort to pack everything you need to take with you. The gear addiction and associated costs do not stop at the camera body and lenses either. You will find yourself buying tripods, monopods, backpacks, filters, flashes, books, more books etc...etc...etc....

    • Re:Go Digital SLR! (Score:5, Informative)

      by sterno (16320) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:47PM (#16760353) Homepage
      Agreed. I just upgraded from a Sony point and shoot digital to the Pentax K100D and have been totally thrilled. The Pentax is in the same realm as the entry level Nikon and Canon DSLR's but also has image stabilization incorporated into the CCD making low light photos better. Totally pleased with it so far.

      The one caveat on the Pentax is finding good lenses for it is a bit more difficult. While you can use pretty much any lens ever made for a Pentax camera, I found that the selection of modern lenses for the canons and nikons is a bigger. Having said that, the lens it comes with is a good all purpose lense and I picked up a 50-200mm zoom that works really well.
      • by guisar (69737) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @09:05PM (#16762083) Homepage
        I also have a Pentax K100D and really like it's ability to use about every lens ever made. I wouldn't go back to a digicam. Just being able to adjust the depth of field and manually focus are huge advantages. It's really feel frustrated to use a point and shoot once you've used an SLR. This assumes of course that you are as infatuated with perfection and willing to read up, study and practice to perfection as I assume most readers of slashdot are.

        One point I think the article skipped over though is the proprietary (RAW) format of most DSLRs. Unless you plan to take and save JPEGS, in which case you're better off using a digicam, you gotta use RAW. RAW's problem is it's a PITA to process. gphoto, etc for Linux sometimes deal with RAW, but others, like my model of the Pentax aren't even accomodated by Photoshop yet. So, beware you can't just take pictures out of these and upload them to flickr or do the other things you might be used to.

        Good quality pictures, the sort of thing you see in the galleries of highly rated photos on www.photo.net, come from RAW photos that are processed in gphoto, GIMP, Photoshop, etc to bring out the best of the shot. It's not a quick process and you should aim more for the few good shots sort of scenario and leave the lot of candid photos to digicams or DSLRs on auto/jpeg mode.

        The RAW format isn't the only proprietary trap of DSLRs. I bought a Pentax primarily because of the ease of lens interchange but it also uses standard old SD cards and regular AA batteries. I use rechargeables but the point is I don't have to buy those VERY expensive proprietary batteries or flavor of the month memory formats as you may if you don't watch out.
        • RAW's problem is it's a PITA to process. gphoto, etc for Linux sometimes deal with RAW, but others, like my model of the Pentax aren't even accomodated by Photoshop yet

          Check out Bibble and Bibblepro from Bibble Labs [bibblelabs.com]. They're neither free nor Free, but they're reasonably-priced, excellent tools and they run on Windows, Mac and Linux (x86). I just looked and they support your camera [bibblelabs.com]. You should get the 15-day trial and see what you think.

          BTW, I have no affiliation with Bibble Labs, other than being a very satisfied customer.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by loraksus (171574)
          The RAW format isn't the only proprietary trap of DSLRs. I bought a Pentax primarily because of the ease of lens interchange but it also uses standard old SD cards and regular AA batteries. I use rechargeables but the point is I don't have to buy those VERY expensive proprietary batteries or flavor of the month memory formats as you may if you don't watch out.

          Except that AA's - even rechargables - suck ass for powering cameras.I have a D50 and the kit battery lets me take somewhat in the area of 1700 pictur
    • by Bryansix (761547)
      The Canon Digital Rebel XTi [bhphotovideo.com] kind of makes even looking at the 30D pointless unless you just like how it feels in your hand better. That is the camera I would recommend to newcomers on the DSLR scene.
    • Re:Go Digital SLR! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ScentCone (795499) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:56PM (#16760493)
      Yes. I've been using film SLRs since the 1970s, and have burned through endless miles of film and paper. I became relatively conservative in my shooting because - never mind the cost - the sheer nuisance of getting the stuff processed was a hinderance (even if I let someone else digitize the negs). Yes, shooting film makes you a more thoughtful photographer. But...

      Switching to a DSLR (in my case a Nikon D200) has completely altered my approach, entirely for the better. I'm still thoughtful about what I'm doing, but I experiment a lot more, and can adapt what I'm doing, based on the results, while my subject is still right in front me. I shoot gigabytes at a time and then trash the majority of it. The 6 fps and huge cache on the camera allow me to capture lots of things that a normal digicam or (not-insane) film SLR would never help me get, and I'm way ahead in productivity.

      The added bonuses (like, Nikon's essentially miraculous, built-in remote strobe control stuff) still have me actually smiling everytime I contemplate a shoot.

      But this stuff is NOT for the casual photographer - the digicams are just too good, and too reasonably priced, and too easy to use. A big ol' DSLR is not the right companion on a romantic hike or trip to a favorite restaurant. But I'm so happy to be able to put my collection of Nikon lenses to work on a new camera body, and to shoot stuff I simply never would have managed before. Seriously thinking about a D80 as a backup body (I tend to bang around in the field a lot).
      • I got a D200 and D80, love 'em both.
        I still shoot film though, at least when the image counts. I can still peg a digital Vs film print pretty quickly and the rigidity of the CMOS/CCD sensors used in digital bugs me.

        -nB
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:00PM (#16760545)
      I'll make a glaring assumption that we can take the Digital part of the equation. In other words, the comparison between a DSLR and DPAS (digital point and shoot) is about the same as between a 35mm SLR and PAS.

      Since my teen years, I've had an SLR. For my wife's 30th bday I bought her a reasonable quality (Pentax) weatherproof aoto load auto focus auto flash PAS. Of course I turned my nose down and continued to use my SLR with clunky lenses and flash etc. So, often, my camera stayed at home in the closet while hers was handy in a pocket, handbag etc. I still have the SLR but I have not used it for over 8 years now.

      About 4 years ago we decides digital was worth it. Got a Canon PAS + Zoom. It does a great job and is always handy. A DSLR would just get left behind.

      The only time you want a DSLR is if you want to take professional pics. Professionals only account for a few % of the camera toting population.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Cromac (610264)
        A P&S with you is better than the DSLR but if your pictures from a P&S look the same as those from a DSLR then you're better off with a P&S. People who are good with a camera will get a lot more out of a DSLR than can be done with any P&S.

        If you just want snapshots get the point and shoot, if you want photographs get the DSLR.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Fred_A (10934)

          A P&S with you is better than the DSLR but if your pictures from a P&S look the same as those from a DSLR then you're better off with a P&S. People who are good with a camera will get a lot more out of a DSLR than can be done with any P&S.

          This is a common misconception. While it does of course depend on the camera, lots of compacts output very decent pictures.

          What it *does* boil down to, is that the camera that you have with you is the one that gets the best pictures.

          SLR cameras have a nu

    • Re:Go Digital SLR! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Salvance (1014001) * on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:02PM (#16760573) Homepage Journal
      For some people DSLR is definitely the right way to go ... but certainly not for the vast majority of people as the article would like us to believe. A $200 digital camera is quite an investment for most users, and the learning curve on these simple devices is quite steep for your average non-techie. But these $200 point-n-shoot cameras supply everything your average mom or dad want, while providing rather decent video and ample 'advanced' shooting modes.

      Compare the point-n-shoot with what you consider an entry level camera (the Canon 20D) and we're looking at 2 completely different users. This $1000+ camera (after lenses, accessories, etc.) is far from simple to use, is less forgiving in automatic/autofocus mode, doesn't offer video, and could never fit in a pocket (or in most cases not even a backpack). It doesn't meet the needs of your average user ... who admittedly is not interested in taking professional level pictures (which yours appear to be, very nice BTW).

      I have met so many average users who get sweeped into the marketing hype around DSLRs and then are highly disappointed. In the end, they often end up taking their point-n-shoot everywhere, while using the DSLR on a tripod for Christmas pictures. Hardly an effective use of $1000.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by honkycat (249849)
        I agree -- for most people, point and shoot is the way to go. I think the article author agrees also.

        Personally, I think the question is not whether to have a P&S or a DSLR, it's whether to have just the P&S or a P&S *and* the DSLR. All those reasons that a P&S is more convenient for a casual photographer are just as true for a serious photographer when he's not on a shoot. He mentions in the article the idea that the photographer, not the camera, makes the picture. There's a corollary t
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by crabpeople (720852)
      "but Canon, like Apple tends to build the entire widget from the glass to the camera to the imaging chips"

      Apple builds intel processors? To me, apple always says less versatility - not more. You should maybe tone down the fanboism lest people get the wrong idea.

    • by jeskandarian (408609) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:16PM (#16760779)
      My D70 with a powerful Nikon flash on top takes kick ass pictures where a point-n-shoot just can't throw enuff light. Hot chick waaay across the room? No problem. The flash will throw enuff light and the camera will make it look like Ansel Adams took it. Right up in someone's grill? No prob. DSLRs handle the flash and won't have any bright spots. Essentially, it doesn't matter if you're totally clueless on how to use it you just get killer results.

      Problem is that at any kind of event, as soon as you walk in with an SLR with a flash, you always get "Oh, the photographer is here" comments. You just can't be discrete toting one of those things around.

      But, drunk girls at 3 frames per second never fails to yield interesting results. The 'model instinct' naturally comes out and nasty sh$t starts to happen....
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Riktov (632)

        You just can't be discrete toting one of those things around.

        You mean you just merge into one blob of flesh?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by allanc (25681)
        Wait, what? The Nikon D70 will make a hot chick look like a national park?
    • by Mal-2 (675116)
      If you were shooting film on a SLR before, didn't you already have the tripod, backpack, filters (maybe the wrong size, maybe not), and books, and maybe the flash as well? Those film SLR lenses will also serve well (after factoring in the +60% or so magnification factor) on the DSLR, though you are going to need specialized DSLR wide-angle lenses.

      Personally I would like to get a digital back for my old manual-focus Canon A-1, but there aren't enough of us out there to get a product made. I prefer manual foc
      • by BWJones (18351) *
        If you were shooting film on a SLR before, didn't you already have the tripod, backpack, filters (maybe the wrong size, maybe not), and books, and maybe the flash as well?

        I had to sell off all my 35mm gear for tuition money when I was an undergraduate. And even though I had one of the first digital cameras made for consumers, the Apple Quicktake 100, its not been until the last couple of years though that I've been getting back into photography seriously.

        Those film SLR lenses will also serve well (after fa
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Mal-2 (675116)
          I once dropped my A-1 in a Mexican river while on this trip [geocities.com], and although it was a quick dunk (no water in the film compartment) and it worked the rest of the day, I had to replace the shutter coil once it had dried out. I also had to get the lens cleaned as it got just enough moisture inside to grow stuff. (28-85mm f/4, it was well worth fixing.)

          Since I was on a cruise ship and didn't really want to send my camera off for however long, I found a TV repair shop in Puerto Vallarta and bought a spool of coil
    • Re:Go Digital SLR! (Score:5, Informative)

      by dfghjk (711126) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:28PM (#16760941)
      "You really cannot go wrong with some of the other manufacturers like Nikon with their D70/D80 and Sony, but Canon, like Apple tends to build the entire widget from the glass to the camera to the imaging chips."

      Apple makes the entire widget? That's new news. Canon is like Apple in that it has a rabid fan base, but (like Apple) its products aren't as differentiated as they would have you believe. Canon had a head start on sensor technology because it developed its sensors in-house and had the funding to do it. Nikon was nearly bankrupt at the start of the digital SLR revolution and couldn't fund development on its own. Canon's digital technology lead has largely evaporated though they certainly don't take a back seat to anybody.

      "Additionally, I tend to like the color representation from the Canon Digic imaging chips."

      Digic is the branding of Canon's image processing processor, not it's imaging chips. Color superiority is another aspect of the Canon lore in spite of the fact that, properly calibrated, color rendition between current SLR's is not that great. Superior color quality is something more generally attributed to Canon's L lenses although I feel that's also overblown.

      Anyone interested in investing in a DSLR needs to realize that they are investing in a system and, over time, will tie up more money in lenses than digital camera bodies. Since lens families actually differ more that the DSLR's themselves at this point, it would behoove new buyers to consider how they intend to use their systems and read up on the various brands at serious photography sites. The choice between Canon and Nikon (or any other brand) is more properly made by understanding the system rather than considering comparisions to Apple or dubious statements about color rendition.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drgonzo59 (747139)
        over time, will tie up more money in lenses than digital camera bodies. -- Amen to that!
        Most photographers I talked to, told me if I ever wanted to buy a DSLR to buy the lens(es) _first_ then buy the body. A good lens will set you back a couple thousand...

        I am actually a fan of Pentax and already pre-ordered the new K10D and ordered some lenses (I like my set of primes) and then I'll wait for the new set of zoom lenses coming in spring. Along with the macro and some wide angles I already have from the P

    • Great to see a blog with nice pictures! Good job on all of them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by syousef (465911)
      The newer 400d has most of the features of the 30d at a much lower price (and a few of its own, like the anti-dust). If you're a beginner it's a better buy.

      However if you're an absolute beginner or don't use your camera often and don't need the features of an SLR, the compacts have never been better value. What you won't get out of a compact is fast shutter speed (if you're shooting anything moving quickly like wildlife or sports, go for the DSLR), light sensititivity. With the DSLR you don't get movie mode
  • by tverbeek (457094) * on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:43PM (#16760301) Homepage
    1 - price
    2 - price
    3 - price
    4 - price
    5 - price
    6 - price
    7 - price
    8 - size
    9 - power requirements
    10 - no Kodachrome or T-max 3200

    Don't get me wrong: I'd love to have a DSLR (especially one compatible with my old K-mount SLR lenses), but so far, the reasons not to buy one have out weighed the reasons to buy one. I'm sticking to my compact battery-sipping 35mm SLR and my "prosumer" non-SLR digital for now.
    • by Bryansix (761547)
      I'd like to refute points 8 and 9. My Rebel XT is just as small as any film SLR. The Battery lasts for several days of continuous shooting which is better then most point and shoots can say for themselves. Yes, a film SLR may last longer but what about having to change the stupid film every 20-30 shots?
    • 11. You can't just point and shoot.

      My brother has both, I got him a cheap point & shoot for £50 (post xmas, great time to buy), being a photo snob he later got himself an £N00 DSLR. Guess which gets by far most use. The point&shoot is tiny so its always there.

      BTW, THE most important aspect of a digital camera is... battery life. There are loads of cameras with decent lenses, millions of pixels yada yada yada but they never tell you the battery is only going to last 20 minutes.
    • D40 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nick_davison (217681) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:11PM (#16760707)
      In answer to 1 through 8, wait a week. Rumor has it that Nikkon's about to anounce the D40 (leaked images all over - check out dpreview.com [dpreview.com]).

      By dropping the sensor resolution way down and ditching the bells and whistles you wouldn't find in similarly priced compacts either, they're looking at launching the first sub $500 DSLR.

      For digital compact users who think DSLRs are too expensive - it's no around the price of a decent digital compact, no more.

      For film SLR users who think DSLRs are too expensive, it's down to a few dozen rolls of film price difference and far less than the cost of a single great lens. Shoot clear of about a thousand shots, you'll save money with a DSLR.

      As for power consumption, I'm not sure what's holding you back?

      Batteries are rechargable so there's no real cost.

      They last a reasonable length of time. A battery grip like the "big ED" holds a pair of batteries so it's down to one change every couple of hours.

      Changing batteries is no more painful than changing film. If you shoot at any kind of speed you'll have to change rolls of film far more frequently than you'll have to change batteries. If you don't shoot that fast, your camera will go to idle mode and you'll get many hours of use out of a single battery.

      Finally, yes, great film is still great. But, aside from its price, there are two main arguments against it:

      1) No instant feedback. Say you're using ISO 3200 film to capture fast falling water droplets. Until you develop the film, you've no idea if you actually caught the instant. With digital, the proof's right there for review. It kind of sucks to finally develop film only to realize you didn't catch what you thought you did and have no way to practically recreate the shoot.

      2) OK, you've loaded your camera with ISO 3200 film for a specific shot. The building rumbles, a plane has crashed outside. You spend the next couple of minutes trying to wind your film through, get it out without ruining your existing shots, searching for the ISO 200 that you didn't think to bring with you anyway. By the time you're ready to shoot, the drama of the once in a lifetime shot has long since past. Your buddy with a DSLR slides the dial to ISO 200, steps outside and gets the award winning shot. Sure, planes crashing are extreme examples - but life's filled with amazing unexpected moments that DSLRs let you get whilst changing film will miss many of them.

      The world's moved on. Those arguments were fair enough for the first couple of generations of DSLRs. Honestly, it's now reached the point where it's like saying, "Steam gives better torque than internal combustion engines. I'm not going to buy one of those new fangled cars when my stanley steamer car works just fine." If you're determined to reinforce your preconceptions, you can probably just about find justification - but the rest of the world's moved on and for good reason.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tverbeek (457094) *

        As for power consumption, I'm not sure what's holding you back? ... They last a reasonable length of time. A battery grip like the "big ED" holds a pair of batteries so it's down to one change every couple of hours.

        You sound like a Windows XP user bragging about how long he can go without rebooting. :)

        I have a late-80's-vintage 35mm SLR that runs on a single button cell (i.e. no huge-ass "battery grip") for... hell, I can't even measure it in hours. Even when I was using it heavily, I'd go for months wit

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by AK Marc (707885)
          If I'd owned a DSLR, it wouldn't even have been in the running, being heavier than both combined and requiring even more batteries.

          Well, how many pictures were you planning on taking? If you were going to take 500 pictures, then you'd need 500/36 = about 13 rolls of film. My DSLR can take about 500 pictures on one battery. So, you'd need no extra batteries and no film. The weight between my SLR and DSLR is not significantly different. So, if you were to choose between a DSLR and an SLR, then for a tw
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by moosesocks (264553)
        Although I'm going to agree with you on all of those points, I am going to chime in and say that T-Max is one of the biggest things I miss about film photography.

        For one, shooting at ISO 3200 gives you razor-sharp results in almost any light conditions. Shooting digital at ISO 1600 in low-light produces noisy images, of which 3/4 are normally unusable. Film grain is preferable over sensor noise any day.

        As far as films go, T-Max is pretty odd stuff. The range of light frequencies it responds to is quite d
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cdrudge (68377)
      But from the article: Price: DSLR cameras are practically affordable nowadays. The big two (Canon and Nikon) currently offer DSLRs for as low as $500-$600. I challenge you to find a good non-DSLR camera for under $600. Oh wait. Just about every non-DSLR camera is under $600. Nevermind.
    • by furchin (240685)
      I agree about the price and size, but power?! I get 2,000 shots out of my D70's battery between charges. Yes, that's two thousand. Show me a digicam that can come even close. Shoot, show me a digicam which can get over 500 between charges.
  • by Fordiman (689627) <fordiman@gMONETmail.com minus painter> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:45PM (#16760323) Homepage Journal
    This is all well and good, but can someone please tell me who the paranoid is that keeps tagging everything with 'itsatrap'?
  • by Kufat (563166) <`kufat' `at' `kufat.net'> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:47PM (#16760349) Homepage
    DSLRs can't shoot video clips, because of the way they take pictures. (Regular digital cameras, meanwhile, are finally able to shoot some relatively decent video without being limited to a few seconds.)
    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:51PM (#16760405) Homepage Journal
      DSLRs could shoot video if they wanted to. What they couldn't let you do would be to look through the viewfinder while you're taping video, because the mirror would be in the wrong place for that. However, since they seem to all have screens on them, that's pretty much a non-issue. The real issue is that they don't even set them up to do video; they're designed to shoot stills exclusively. Even if they wanted to do video, they couldn't sample a 10MP sensor at 30 FPS and actually do something with the image data, so they'd have to read a subset of the pixels or something. This would of course produce a shit image without processing, which would take more CPU... It makes much more sense to just drop $500 on a cheapie MiniDV camcorder, you can get one with A/V passthrough for that even that can behave like a DV Bridge and convert analog video to DV or vice versa in realtime. Makes a nice gadget, and just a few years ago Sony used to sell a stereo component-sized unit that did the same thing for $500 :) (I have a DV Bridge, which sold for $200 I think.)
      • The simple solution, as you say, is to lock the shutter up and then capture from the sensor just as a compact does (using a subset of pixels for bandwidth reasons).

        There's another interesting technique that's been discussed - using a translucent mirror/prism that's locked in position with a separate shutter behind it. By doing so, x% of the light can be sent up to the eye piece while the other y% can be sent to the sensor.

        If you then pull this out of the way and use the old method for stills, you still get
    • If you want to shoot movies, why wouldn't you buy a video camera?

      This is like saying "Don't buy screwdrivers because they don't drive nails very well."

       
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:47PM (#16760351) Homepage Journal

    It will cost you at least $1000 to get a unit with decent dust-prevention equipment, maybe as much as $1200. That will get you a sexy 10MP DSLR, but I know that if I had that kind of money, I'd have more important places to spend it.

    I recently looked at some Digital SLRs, and if anyone is considering buying a current-generation one for personal use, I'd say buy the cheap one (the Canon.) This is the third generation and they finally added a dust removal technology (to remove dust from the image sensor) ... and it's $200 cheaper than the competion.

    • Sounds like you have had some serious problems with dust in the past. I'm just starting with DSLR and after 3,500 images I've not run into a dust problem yet. It may depend on where you shoot and how carfull you are when you change lenses. It's just not the issue some people think it is. The CCD is only exposed when the shutter is open and of course you would have a lens on the camera when the shutter is open.

      I'd say the ONLY reason not to buy one (other then lack of funds, or no interrest in phot

      • by drinkypoo (153816)
        The inside of the camera creates its own dust. I've talked to numerous photographers who have bitched about this very issue. Canon is the latest arrival in this category, even. It only takes one spot of dust to piss me off, since you can't clean the sensor yourself. I don't want to be sending my camera in to the manufacturer for cleaning at $200 per visit, even if I only have to do it once in my lifetime. Besides, one of the joys of not having film is the ability to safely make a lens change any time, and o
  • You need both (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:48PM (#16760361)
    Until lenses improve on cell phone cameras, you need both types of digicam if you are into photography. You need a pocket sized camera... no one would ever take an SLR camera on a serious hike, out to a bar, mountain biking, skiing, etc. On the other hand, only an SLR will give you the flexibility to express your artistic side.

    It is better to have some slightly less snazzy snapshots of you and your friends with a compact camera then to miss out on photographing the occasion altogether because the camera is too big to lug around.
    • You're right, no one takes them hiking. I wonder how all those nature photographers do it? Probably with a camera phone.
    • by Lumpy (12016)
      no one would ever take an SLR camera on a serious hike, out to a bar, mountain biking, skiing, etc.

      really? I guess I am no-one then. because not only do I carry one of my Fuji S2 DSLR's on hikes on boats, even when I go skiing... But I have also carried a Canon XL1 $4500.00 video camera with a $1000.00 lens on it while riding backwards on a snomobile careening down a ski slope filming.. Oh, the camera also had $2500.00 worth of wireless audio recievers on it as well. No I am not a pro, yes this is my p
    • no one would ever take an SLR camera on a serious hike, out to a bar, mountain biking, skiing, etc.

      Jesus, of course they would. What, you think Ansel Adams had some mutant teleport power that he used to just *poof* himself into position to take his shots? No, he had to *hike* out to those locations, and he did it with a lot more than an SLR, he was hauling along oodles of medium and large-format stuff. People take photos up on Everest, and they don't do it with point-and-shoots.

      It is better to have some
      • by MightyYar (622222)
        A hike was just an example. I know some serious hikers... they buy light shoes to save a few ounces. They snap their stupid toothbrush in half to save the space. There is probably no room in their pack for a large P&S, let alone an SLR. Of course a more casual hiker or more dedicated photographer can find a way to get a camera up there... it was just an example :)
    • Don't say "no one". Some people only go up mountains or onto the ski slope so they can capture the images they see there. I'm into underwater photography right now but I've hauled medium format systems and big tripods up moutians just for the shot.

      The difference between a "photographer" and some one who just ownes a camera is the photographer thinks of the activity as "making images" and he just happens to be on a hike because that is how you get to the wildflowers or whatever his subject is. While the

  • by setirw (854029) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:53PM (#16760427) Homepage
    It's irrelevant, and it's not funny. I've been tagging similarly mistagged articles with "shutupwithitsatrap," and "!itsatrap."

    The tag was already overused when it was remotely relevant, but today's usage is idiotic.

    And yes, I acknowledge that this will be modded off-topic. I have some karma to spare.
  • by caitsith01 (606117) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:53PM (#16760441) Journal
    When the article contains remarks like this:

    Most digicams are plastic, plastic, and more plastic. They feel flimsy and they're not all that hard to break. DSLRs are built to much higher standards

    then you can tell that it is not particularly helpful at all. A great many 'digicams' are very nicely constructed. For example, the rather lovely Lumix [panasonic.com] range from Panasonic/Leica, one of which I am lucky enough to own, are extremely well constructed and are largely made from metals and special composites which do not feel 'plastic' in the least. They also have excellent ergonomics and performance. Many smaller cameras are also very nicely constructed, often from metal - the Canon Ixus [canon.com.au] range comes to mind.

    I agree that DSLRs are nice, and I plan to acquire one myself. But it is not helpful to publish a list of 'reasons' which are little more than vague assertions that A is better than B, without taking into account either reality, or the very valid reasons why B might be preferable for many people.
    • >> Most digicams...

      the rather lovely Lumix range from Panasonic/Leica, one of which I am lucky enough to own

      Leica have always been a quality based brand for the minority who appreciate them. They are not however, even close to common.

      The statement remains true that, for the majority of consumer compact digital cameras, construction is generally cheap plastic that's liable to break if dropped or at least have zoom mechanisms lose alignment.

      It is true to say, "Most people are not that well educated in
  • CCD has better range and colors, then that of CMOS. Though top end of Canon's offering matches Nikon's.

    1. Quality of images.
    2. Better control of parameters
    3. Choice of lenses for the variety of situations.
    4. Speed - often point and shoots take a while to recylce the flash.
    5. Ability to use professional flash.
    6. Women like to pose for DSLR then to teensy point and shoot.
    7. Batteries last longer, usually.
    8. Speed of focus, at least on nikons it is excellent, so you don't loose the moment.
    9. ...
    10. ...
    • Tell that to my Nikon D2x - it uses a CMOS sensor and does very well, thank you. The D200 (and D80/D70/D50) use a CCD sensor. Ask the Nikon engineers why. If you are obsessively technoid, you can come up with reasons for using one or the other but you end up in a Ford / Chevy argument. The latest offerings from Nikon and Canon (and pretty much everybody else) are typically more capable than the photographer.

      You seem to be confuse the image sensor type (CCD vs CMOS) with the mirror / lens arrangement (S

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      6. Women like to pose for DSLR then to teensy point and shoot.

      I'm sold!
  • by bhmit1 (2270) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:54PM (#16760463) Homepage
    Convenience.

    I love my Nikon D70 (especially since I used hotel points to buy it), but for every shot I get that others don't have a chance because of shutter speed or ability to use another lens, there's one that I missed because I didn't consider lugging out my camera bag for some event. With compact cameras being as small as ipods these days, I'd recommend that you start with one of those first, and when you want to take it to the next level, get a second camera as a dslr.
    • by ScentCone (795499)
      With compact cameras being as small as ipods these days, I'd recommend that you start with one of those first, and when you want to take it to the next level, get a second camera as a dslr.

      Yeah, sorta. Guess it depends on your camera heritage, as it were. People who've been shooting a film SLR already have the size thing ironed out, and will be in the best position to leverage all of the fantastic stuff that a modern DSLR can do for them. Once you've experienced a camera like a recent Nikon DSLR, the spe
  • In college, my high school girlfriend went to Miami (Florida) and I went to a school in Dallas TX; we spent all the breaks together, and other than that we didn't see eachother. Since this time was special to us, we took a lot of pictures. She owned a Casio Exlim camera basically a point and shoot the size of a credit card x 1cm thick, I a Canon Powershot A80 - about as big as three decks of playing cards stacked together. After the first day, the Powershot got left behind, and we ended up taking over a tho
    • Much of your analysis is predicated on the existence of girlfriends, sometimes with hot friends. I'm afraid we'll have to take that bit of erroneous input into account as we mod your comment. Now, if you'd care to re-post your comment, substituting "mom" for "girlfriend," we'll all have a better baseline with which to work.
  • Viewfinder (Score:3, Informative)

    by stereoroid (234317) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:03PM (#16760593) Homepage Journal
    Of the points raised in the article, I found the viewfinder the most convincing reason to get a DSLR. Live preview on a screen is not a replacement, especially in the dark, when a screen can kill your night vision. It's also very quick once you get used to it, and I've found the difference is particularly apparent with long lenses. Be aware, though, that not all DSLRs are equal in this respect: so far, of the established makers, Canon have been poor, Nikon average, and Pentax have really emphasised a good, bright viewfinder in their mainstream DSLRs. That may change, of course - the new Nikons are catching up.

    Another key point is that you're not just buying a camera, you're buying in to a system, so the lens range needs to be taken in to account, in the long term. You're not going to be happy with the "kit lens" for very long.
  • I wouldn't actually use it.

    Seriously, I'm normally a gadget freak. I love anything I can tinker with, especially if it appeals to my creative side. But I somehow managed to call up enough restraint a few years ago to get the tiniest decent-quality camera I could find (a Minolta Dimage Xt, just a little larger than an Altoids tin), and I couldn't be happier. When I'm at a party, family event, wandering a random city on vacation, etc. I can just stick it in a shirt pocket, enjoy myself, and pull it out to tak
  • Problem... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:07PM (#16760647) Homepage
    the lens that comes with most DSLR's is utter crap. the Rebel comes with a lens that makes the point and shoots look bad, but it is complete crap compared to a $250.00 Prime lens.

    Granted, the most expensive DSLR is cheap compared to a good lens, and that trap can bleed you dry on your new hobby.

    But, if you get a DSLR I strongly reccomend that you get a 60mm prime (I reccomend a 1.8 or faster but most people cringe at a $600.00 or more lens) and see what your DSLR camera can really do.
    • You are right to say "look at the lens". but not all "kit lenses are crap. For example the Nikon 18-55mm is quite good. The one that comes with the canon Rebel has th same specs is poor. Like anything else read the reviews and look at the total system.
  • The real reason (Score:2, Informative)

    by 3.14159265 (644043)
    Superior optics. Period. Everything else is a nice to have, e.g. take 1000+ fotos with a single battery (without flash)
    Got a Nikon D70, absolutely astonishing pictures, even though they say it's not the camera, but the person behind it... :)
  • by rdewalt (13105) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:22PM (#16760869) Homepage
    I have looked at the other models, and right now, I don't see any that have told me "upgrade to me!" other than the "holy crap, 4k!" Nikon D2Xs.

    Please, check out http://www.dpreview.com/ [dpreview.com] before you purchase a camera. No, seriously. When I was a salesdroid, I recommended -everyone- check that site at least once before spending $money on camera.

    I saw the D80, and I looked at "What does it offer?" well, okay, its 10mp vs 6mp. But thats not enough to make me buy it. The D80 uses SD cards vs the CF/MD cards of the D70. No benefit there. I have $500 in microdrives. The extra resolution is nice, but not -by it self- enough. A 4x6 image only needs a "3mp" area to be displayed at "80% of humans will never discern it from film"

    As a former salesman, you need to ask "What is my end result?" if the answer is "To send pics to grandma" Then -ANY- digital camera will do it. DSLR's bring forth the power of film cameras. If you don't need that power, you don't need a DSLR.

    I have a half dozen lenses for my camera. But I'm a semi-pro photographer. A situation that inspires me to get a $400 lens, you might not feel the same on.

    Go, Decide for yourself. I can lay out ten thousand reasons why I love my rig and gear. The will -NOT- apply to you. Such is art.
  • by hahiss (696716) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:28PM (#16760929) Homepage

    I probably won't buy one of these things until the attached cell phone works better. I mean, yeah, the pictures totally rock, but I can't exactly call anyone with them.
  • SLRs in general are much, much more versatile for tacking pictures than point and shoot. The bit about creative control is definitely true. I loved the N8008 but the film and development cost started to add up. I tend to play around with the various camera settings as a way to learn so I tend to take a lot of pictures of the same scene, etc. The DSLR allows me to do that.

    I do disagree with the author on a minor point. Not all DSLRs are built to the same quality. Even within the Nikon family the D80/70
  • by Banner (17158) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:39PM (#16761067) Journal
    I just bought a new Canon XTi like one HOUR before this article got published here. So now I'm afraid to go read it and find out what I screwed up!

    Drat you slashdot!!! :-)
  • by IronChef (164482) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @08:13PM (#16761467)
    dSLRs have MANY advantages as the article points out. But it glosses over the cost issue. Getting a dSLR with the same reach as a long-zoom "prosumer" camera can cost quite a bit.

    Take for example the Nikon Coolpix 8800, or the Panasonic FZ30. They both have good glass: the 8800 has a zoom range of, in 35mm equivalence, 35-350mm. The Panasonic is 35-420mm. Both have optical image stabilization built in, and both can do macro photography too. You also get dSLR style complete manual control if you want it. (Lots of non-dSLRs have good controls, I think the article flops out a red herring there. You just have to do your homework.)

    The 8800 isn't made anymore, but it was about $800-900 new, about as much as the original Nikon d70 with kit lens I think. The Panasonic must be on the way out, as it is now about $400. (It is speculated that these types of cameras are a lot less profitable than dSLRs and so are getting erased from the lineups. I dunno.)

    So why would I have bought an 8800 instead of a d70? Easy. The cost of a Nikon LENS that can hit 300mm of zoom seems to be about $500--and it still won't let you do macro. When you buy that affordable dSLR kit camera, you aren't buying a complete solution... you are buying a starting point unless your only interests fall in that ~28-105mm range the kit lens covers.

    I must grant that the dSLR is superior in many ways, particularly quality of the sensor. A bigger sensor is less prone to noise at high ISO, so your DSLR can shoot cleaner at 1600 than my 8800 can at 200. That is a big deal! But to take full advantage of that, you need to carry around a bag of lenses. (The article didn't mention battery life, another big win for DSLRs by the way.)

    I'm not slamming dSLRs. No flames, please. I'm just saying that there is an argument for buying a camera that can do a good job on a little bit of everything, even if it isn't the BEST at any of it. Like any other complex gadget, do your homework--there are a lot of really good cameras available these days. And this is a complicated hobby so you won't get everything you need to know from one top-10 list article (or snarky forum post). Figure out what you want to shoot and the choice of camera will become more clear.

    ok, here come the haters, I know it...
  • by Magnus Pym (237274) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @06:25AM (#16765461)
    If you have never used an SLR before and have no investment in lenses etc, by all means, go ahead and buy a DSLR. You won't be disappointed by the image quality.

    However, if you are a longtime film-SLR user and have an investment in SLR lenses for some platform, then watch out!

    In a nutshell, most of the lenses in your collection will not be really usable with your shiny new DSLR! This is because most DSLR use an imaging sensor that has a different size than the 35 MM film size. What this means is that the effective focal lengths of all your lenses are going to be different from what they are when fixed to a film camera. Nikon has a multiplication factor of 1.5. Depending on the model, Canon has a multiplication factor of 1.5 or 1.6. [Some of Canon's Very Expensive cameras have a 35-mm size sensor and have no multiplication factor]

    What this means is that your 50mm lens will have an effective focal length of75 mm, reducing its utility considerably. You will find that you will have to replace pretty much all your stock lenses with new "digital-ready" lenses, a pretty significant investment overall. I am surprised that the article did not mention it.

    Why is this? The camera companies say that full-frame sensors are expensive, and that they don't contribute much to image quality anyway. The former might be true, but not something that investment and time won't fix. The latter is completely bogus. They said the same thing about the APS system, but the marketplace quickly figured out that this was not right and rejected the system.

    Here is the real reason: Companies like Canon and Nikon make far more money on their lenses than they do on their cameras. They are always looking for ways to make you buy more lenses. If their old-line lenses could work with the new DSLRs, they have lost a huge profit opportunity! But they cannot change the format of the camera-lens connector without a huge backlash from the customers. So this is a way by which they can force the adoption of an entirely new line of lenses, at the same time maintaining plausible deniability.

    If you regularly use an external flash, you will have to buy a new external flash as well. The flashes that used to work with film cameras are not fully compatible with the DSLRs.

    Magnus
  • by theonetruekeebler (60888) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @07:56AM (#16765947) Homepage Journal
    Unless you're a professional, or even a dedicated amateur, a digital press-here-dummy camera is probably all you'll ever need:
    1. Price: A midrange DPHD costs less than half what the most basic DSLR is going for.
    2. Size: Most DPHDs will fit in your shirt pocket.
    3. Weight: Big, clunky DSLRs are also heavy. Your hands get tired dealing with it, and your neck hurts from carrying it on a strap.
    4. Single unit design: The whole camera is a single entity. No lenses to take on and off, no lens caps to lose, no equipment bags to lug around. The only accessory is a little cable you leave at home next to your laptop -- same as with the DSLR.
    5. Ergonomic simplicity: A DPHD is designed for one-handed operation.
    6. LCD viewfinder: You'll be amazed at how often you want to take a picture, but have no way to get your head in the right position to take a shot. The LCD lets you hold the camera away from you, to the side, wherever, just as long as you can see the display. Some even have flip-out displays so you can take pictures of things behind you.
    7. Ease of use: Okay, DSLRs have pretty efficient automatic modes. But switching to manual mode is like turning off the autopilot on a fighter jet -- you better know what you're doing or everything goes to hell at once.
    8. You can hand it to your kid: The entire instruction set is "look here and push this button."
    9. You can hand it to a stranger: "Can you get a picture of me and my honey in front of the manatee tank? Just look through here and push this button."
    10. Durability: Knock a DSLR and a DPHD off the patio table and see one bounces and which one turns to rubble.
    11. You ain't that good: Probably one camera owner in ten is skilled enough -- or willing to take the time to become skilled enough -- that they can take advantage of the capabilities a DSLR has over a PHD camera. For the rest of us, the real magic of any digital camera is that you can play the odds: Take a dozen snaps at a time, without spending a dime on film, and see which one turns out right.
  • Counter argument (Score:3, Informative)

    by ItsIllak (95786) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @08:41AM (#16766377) Homepage
    I'm personally going the other way. Ideally I'd like a decent DSLR and a super-compact. The latter would live in my bag and the former would be for specific opportunities. In reality, what would happen is that the latter would be in my bag, and the DSLR would be in the cupboard.

    DSLRs have lots of problems, even ignoring the technical ones (dust being the biggest). Pull one out in public and you'll get treated differently (usually negatively). Pull out a good quality compact and everyone will ignore you. The one above, they're just NOT everyday-portable.

    I see his point, but just to rebuff some of them ..


    Creative Control:


    Not seen the Casio Z1000 or Z800, the Canon S70 or S80, the Panasonic LX1, LX2, the Leica Digilux 1 or 2 or many more then? There are quite a few very small cameras that give you lots of camera control.


    Accessories Galore:


    Plenty of cameras either have after-market add ons to give them a standard fitting, or even manufacturer add-ons. However, try getting a manageable underwater case for your new D80 - it'll cost a fortune and act as it's own personal float.


    No Shutter Lag

    Instant Startup


    Sure, but there are plenty of the DSLRs that are pretty crap in this respect too. The latest generation are the first you can reasonably rely on.


    Higher Build Quality


    See above list for pretty well constructed, metal bodied cameras.


    Viewfinder

    I'm not sure you'll get many Electronic View Finders in the smallest compacts, but there are increasing numbers as the size increases. Other than that, you often get reasonable rangefinders. Not SLR, but you get used to it very quickly


    Ergonomics

    Seriously? It's not always better to have a huge luggable camera to hold.


    Price


    Seriously? No really, SERIOUSLY? The price of the compacts is lower than the DSLRs. End of story.

  • by cyberworm (710231) <cyberworm&gmail,com> on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @02:33PM (#16773159) Homepage
    It's been a while since I've shot film, but if I remember correctly, White Balancing was never an issue. I've found that with my D50 I have to realllllllly keep track of how my camera is set in regards to white balancing (even on Auto... I use "Probably" aka Program and Manual unless I hand my camera off to someone so I can be in the photo).
    The "auto" WB mode does ok for most stuff if I'm using a flash or outdoors. When I move inside though, it becomes apparent how poorly the camera recognizes Incandescent light bulbs or flourecent lighting. Granted when I go do post processing of the RAW images, I have the option to correct these, but if you're just an average guy taking family snaps you could really be disappointed that your 600$ super camera is making Aunt Helen look jaundiced, like an Ooompa Loompa, or a Smurf. With film, what you see has usually been what you get. With digital, it's been my experience that if you don't pay attention, you may not always get what you see.

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