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10 Reasons To Buy a DSLR 657

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 @07:41PM (#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....

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

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

    by sterno ( 16320 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:47PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:50PM (#16760391)
    It's not paranoia, it's a doofishness. It started with various MS-related stories (more or less reasonably) getting tagged that way; now someone thinks it's funny if they all are.

  • by caitsith01 ( 606117 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:53PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:59PM (#16760533)
    it makes much more sense to just drop $500 on a cheapie MiniDV camcorder [and another $600+ on a DSLR..]
    I think what the grand-parent post was implying is that, for $200-300, you can get a reasonable camera that takes reasonable video (all things be relative, here.)
  • Viewfinder (Score:3, Informative)

    by stereoroid ( 234317 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @08:03PM (#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.
  • Problem... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @08:07PM (#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.
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @08:11PM (#16760703) Homepage Journal
    Get a life. You don't need dust removal technology. When's the last time *anyone* has complained about dust on their digital sensor? NEVER.

    Actually, basically everyone with a DSLR without dust removal has complained about this. See, in a normal camera you have hardly any moving parts. An SLR has a huge shutter, a moving mirror, and most importantly, a removable lens. This all adds up to many many opportunities for dust to land on the sensor. You cannot safely clean the sensor if the dust does not blow off with gentle air, and many people have sent their cameras in for cleaning many times. This has definitely been a big deal among the DSLR crowd, which is why every DSLR camera in this generation has dust removal.

    If I'm spending a thousand-plus dollars on a 10MP camera, I don't want to deal with dust issues. Some of the current-generation cameras go so far as to not only provide a vibrating dust removal scheme, but they also have software dust removal built into the camera - you point it at a solid wash of color (like a well-lit white wall) and it will identify dust spots and store them for later reference, automatically removing their influence (to some degree) from the images.

    In other words - and this is becoming my mantra on slashdot lately - You don't know what you're talking about.

  • The real reason (Score:2, Informative)

    by 3.14159265 ( 644043 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @08:17PM (#16760781)
    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 @08:22PM (#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.
  • Re:Go Digital SLR! (Score:5, Informative)

    by dfghjk ( 711126 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @08:28PM (#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.
  • by cskrat ( 921721 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @09:00PM (#16761307)
    I think he's talking about how many 1-hour photo labs will develop 35mm film by chemically developing the negative, digitizing and image of it and then printing from the digital capture using an ink jet process rather than optically projecting the image onto the print paper. Unfortunately, in his case, the equipment used by the "photo lab" is either really crappy, badly adjusted or configured for high speed at snapshot quality rather than low speed at portrait quality.
  • Exposure latitude? (Score:4, Informative)

    by SIGBUS ( 8236 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @09:04PM (#16761369) Homepage
    Perhaps the "rigidity" is that image sensors tend to have a relatively narrow exposure latitude. If you're used to shooting slide film, this isn't a problem, but if you normally shoot negatives, it can trip you up.

    One thing that can help is to shoot in RAW mode. With the Canon DSLRs, RAW will capture 36-bit color rather than 24-bit. The disadvantage is that you then need to postprocess the images to get decent results - but you can bring out details that would be lost in the shadows if you were shooting in JPEG mode.

  • Re:Problem... (Score:2, Informative)

    by dave_f1m ( 602921 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @09:12PM (#16761459)
    The lens the Rebel comes with is complete crap compared to a $70 Prime lens. If you get a Canon, and you don't already have good lenses, get the 50mm F1.8 - it's a steal. Then, you will realise how good a lens can be, and get or at least covet the expensive lenses.
  • Re:Go Digital SLR! (Score:3, Informative)

    by syousef ( 465911 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @09:16PM (#16761507) Journal
    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, and though beginners can take nice shots on auto mode in good conditions, there's a lot more to master.

    One other thing to consider is availability of lenses, servicing and accessories. Nikon make good cameras but I've had awful service experiences from their agents. What's worse good lenses tend to be scarce compared to say Canon. The ergonomics of the Nikon are fantastic though.

    Before you buy always check out the review sites (and their forums) for the latest info. Some of the best.

    http://www.dpreview.com/ [dpreview.com]
    http://www.steves-digicams.com/ [steves-digicams.com]
    http://www.dcresource.com/ [dcresource.com]

    DSLRs are still a pricey investment when you consider total cost of ownership, accessories etc. Be aware the shutters don't last forever (a few tens of thousands of shots before you need a service). Also be aware that if you want to go pro, or take razor sharp pictures you're going to have to invest big money in glass , particularly for longer focal lengths (typically a few thousand dollars though you won't have to buy it all at once - I'm still using crappy consumer lenses for this reason). Bottom line is that there's no other kind of camera that is quite so versatile particularly for action/wildlife.

    DSLR advantages:
    - Very versatile, flexible
    - Image quality fantastic with the right lens and once you learn to use the camera
    - Must have for sports/action

    DSLR disadvantages:
    - Only one I'm aware of with a movie mode. Don't buy a DSLR if you want to do video clips
    - Price (not just purchase price of camera, but accessories, maintenance)
    - Not as light weight as some of the compacts
  • by stox ( 131684 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @09:29PM (#16761697) Homepage
    Some new models are addressing that issue. For example, the Olympus E500 shakes the sensor clean on every power up. Other manufacturer's are using similar technology.
  • Re:Bummer (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cromac ( 610264 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @09:45PM (#16761871)
    Cameras like that and the Panasonic FZ30/50 have many manual features similar to a DSLR but still aren't in the same league as far as photo quality goes. They're still hamstrung by fairly tiny sensor that is prone to noise anytime you have to go above ISO 100.
  • by guisar ( 69737 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:05PM (#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.
  • by fractalus ( 322043 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:08PM (#16762119) Homepage
    1. Dust on a DSLR sensor does happen--I've had it happen to my Canon many times. It's easy if you're in a dusty environment. Remember that in a film camera, the film is the sensor and you get a fresh "sensor" every time you take a photo. With digital, your "film" never moves, so you get the same surface exposed to dust. Over time (and I've taken thousands of photos) dust will accumulate and begin to spoil your images. Not an issue with point & shoot because those cameras are sealed, but I change lenses several times each time I shoot, so I know it's going to be a problem.

    2. Cleaning it doesn't require sending it back to the manufacturer, you can buy brushes and swabs used to clean the sensors yourself. I was nervous as hell the first time I did it; now I'm just merely nervous, but I've done it several times and I'm glad I learned how. I bought mine from Copper Hill Images [copperhillimages.com]. Couldn't be happier; not only is the stuff they sent good, but I made an error in ordering and ordered overlapping bundles, and they caught it and refunded the difference before I'd even brought it up with them.
  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:09PM (#16762129)
    You need to process negative film too, if you want to bring out details, it's just that usually you're trusting the kid at the photo-mart to do it for you. ;)

    12-bit per channel RAW from most SLR sensors actually has a similar dynamic range to most common negative film, and is quite a bit more linear.
  • 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:Agree 100% (Score:4, Informative)

    by swillden ( 191260 ) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @02:05AM (#16763881) Homepage Journal

    For Canon, I would strongly recommend the 50mm f/1.8, it's under 100 bucks and will let you take most indoor shots without a flash.

    Absolutely. Fantastic little lens, great for indoor portaiture, and you can actually get it on-line for about $70, sometimes $60 if you watch a little. It's extremely sharp, has good color, no significant vignetting... really it has no flaws other than its cheap plastic construction, which is also what makes it really light.

    Another great lens I've had experience with is the 28-135 IS - it's got an image stabilizer which isn't quite as useful as I had hoped, but it's a very good range of zoom for typical walkabout photography

    I looked at that, and at the Canon 17-85 f/4-5.6 IS lens, but ended up buying a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 instead. It's sharper than either of the other two (even sharper than the 50mm f/1.8 at 50mm!) and the wide f/2.8 fixed aperture (doesn't narrow as you zoom in) makes it very good indoors and in dim light. Not only that, it's also slightly cheaper than the Canon 28-135 and much cheaper than the 17-85. No IS, but the larger aperture makes up for that.

    The XT kit lens isn't horrible either, it lets you get down to 18mm for 100 bucks

    Yeah, but that's its only positive. It's a pretty good $100 lens. Lots of photographers would say that the best use for the kit lens is holding down papers on a windy day. It beats the crap out of a P&S lens, of course, but that's all it really is, a better P&S lens.

    "Good" (L) Canon lenses start in the neighborhood of 1000 bucks.

    Yeah, I've got my eye on a Canon 100-400mm f/4-5.6L. $1400-$1600. Ouch. Man is it a nice lens, though...

    There are cheaper knock-off lenses, but in general, the higher quality stuff is single vendor.

    That I can't agree with. Tamron and Sigma make some very high quality lenses. They also make some absolute trash. Read some reviews and it's easy to find out which is which. I know a serious pro (1Ds Mk II) who won't buy anything but Sigma for wide angle. And my Tamron is a really sweet lens. At the really high end -- those L series lenses -- Canon's lenses are unmatched by any third party lenses AFAICT, but in the under-$1K market the third parties have some very compelling options.

  • by jamie ( 78724 ) * <jamie@slashdot.org> on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @02:42AM (#16764095) Journal
    As our tags FAQ [slashdot.org] makes clear, abuse of tags will result in that user's tags having lessened or zero impact on our system. By the time you read this, the silly tags should be purged from this story and the silly taggers' ability to affect our system reduced.
  • Re:Agree 100% (Score:2, Informative)

    by Matt_R ( 23461 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @06:09AM (#16765121) Homepage
    Yeah, I've got my eye on a Canon 100-400mm f/4-5.6L. $1400-$1600. Ouch. Man is it a nice lens, though...

    I have the 24-105 f/4 L IS, 70-200 f/4 L and the 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 L IS. They all rock. I am thinking of selling the 70-200, as I hardly use it now I have the 100-400.

  • by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @06:32AM (#16765249)
    The D80/70/50 series only support AF lenses.

    Not true. I've used AI lenses, and modified F lenses from as far back as 1968 on D50s and D70s .

  • by Fred_A ( 10934 ) <fred@fredsh o m e.org> on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @07:37AM (#16765521) Homepage
    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 number of advantages but are also bulky. I know I certainly don't keep my D70 and a couple lenses with me all the time. On the other hand, I always have either my Canon G3 (which is getting a bit flaky as it doesn't always start up) or my Canon S3 IS. Both can have most/all of their settings switched to manual, are small enough to fit in a coat pocket or my backpack and are versatile enough to cover most situations.

    When I know I'm off to see something worthwhile or to hunt for pictures, I'll take the SLR and a compact. On a casual day, the SLR is just too bulky.

    And regarding the "10 reasons", a lot of them just don't apply if you pick the right camera :
    1. Creative control : most high end compacts will let you do quite a lot in this area. Few of them will let you focus manually however which can be a drawback.
    2. Superior sensors : it is true that the sensors are of a better quality in most SLRs. The main thing it has an impact on is noise. Compacts are more susceptible to electronic noise. Some camera CPUs are better at dealing with this, some post processing can help but all in all the sensor size is a major factor.
    3. Less noise : This is the same thing as above really.
    4. Accessories galore : since the purpose of a compact is to be, well, compact, this isn't really a factor. However a number of them support standard external flash connectors which can come in handy.
    5. No shutter lag : Not really a major problem with the CPUs currently found in compacts. Still a problem with some low end models though. In all cases it *will* be slightly slower than an SLR, mostly because of the autofocus. Mostly it's not slow enough to be a problem.
    6. Instant startup : My compacts are ready to shoot by the time I bring them to eye level. So the half second startup time isn't a problem (except the G3 which just doesn't start up at all every now and then but I think that's just old age :( )
    7. Higher build quality : Certainly. For some SLRs.
    8. Viewfinder : There is indeed a trend of having compacts without a viewfinder. I always avoided those. The S3 IS has a digital "kind of reflex" viewfinder which is a bit odd at first when you're used to a SLR but which adds a lot of information (live histogram, plus all the assorted stats). The resolution isn't very high but then you don't really use it to focus. Some people hate those though so try it before getting committed. OTOH being able to use the screen to shoot can be a real boon, especially a swivelling screen like on those two compacts. For wildlife macro shots, it's invaluable.
    9. Ergonomics : Well duh, pick a properly designed camera maybe ? Don't buy one without research, holding it, checking the layout... With a compact I possibly consider it even more important than with a SLR because I know it's going to be in my pocket a lot and I'm going to be able to access features easily. And a *lot* of compacts have a terrible design.
    10. Price : That's where things get tricky. Basically there is no upper limit to what you can spend. As to the lower limit, it mostly depends on whether you're prepared to buy second hand or not. While SLRs have gotten cheaper, decent compacts haven't really. The best money saving trick is to wait for a new model to come out in a series and to buy the one it's replacing (like the Canon G6 now that the G7 is out).

    After that it's up to what you want to do with your camera, what kind of photography you do, where you want to go from there, etc. But don't make the mistake of thinking that the camera has that much to do with what will end up on your flash card. The main factor is you, the camera is a distant second at best.
  • Re:Go Digital SLR! (Score:3, Informative)

    by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @08:13AM (#16765707)
    What's that when it's at home?

    Not entirely sure I'm following your question, but:

    With Nikon's recent DSLRS (certainly the D200, D80), the seemingly unimpressive built-in pop-up strobe (which actually works really well as a fill flash, and is really helpful when you don't feel like mounting a larger strobe) also serves as a "controller" for devices like their SB-600 and SB-800 strobes. You can have 20 of them, if you want, sitting in various places around your space, withe strobes assigned to three different groups, all providing through-the-lens metering for well-measured light, and with the menu on the camera telling the different strobe groups what to do. The communication is handled through some very fast pre-flashes from the built-in strobe, but you can actually tell the built-in strobe not to fire during the actual exposure.

    Even if you use only one companion strobe, you can use this feature to move it off-camera for more natural-looking lighting, and not have to tether it to the camera at all. It's really, really refreshing. But since you can get a second or third strobe for pretty cheap, you'll quickly find yourself adding another one on top of a bookcase, or inside a window, or on a stand with a diffuser... and you've got very professional lighting control with just about none of the fuss. I really can't rave about Nikon's i-TTL system enough. The cameras are getting very, very smart these days.
  • Counter argument (Score:3, Informative)

    by ItsIllak ( 95786 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @09:41AM (#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.


    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


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


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

  • Re:Agree 100% (Score:3, Informative)

    by swillden ( 191260 ) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @10:40AM (#16767379) Homepage Journal

    Mainly because this lens will be much sharper at f/4 than faster comparably-priced lenses at the same stop. To get comparable sharpness out of most other lenses you'd have to stop them down to f/8 or so anyway. In dim light you can often get more detail with a very sharp lens and a high ISO (especially with today's DSLRs which aren't very noisy at even 800) than with a faster but softer lens. For still subjects, the IS gives you another stop or two, which can also help.

  • by loraksus ( 171574 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @03:21PM (#16772921) Homepage
    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 pictures between charges. I can go out for an entire day, shooting continuously and filling up over 3 gigs of SD cards and come home at the end of the night with juice left for the next day. Before, I'd have to change batteries every 200 or so shots.

    The kit batteries hold much more power for their weight and size (nimh aa cells are the heaviest) and you have an overall better experience. Besides, the "expensive" batteries are pretty cheap if you compare the cost of buying them to buying AA nimh cells. Could even be cheaper.

    Most DSLRs use common cards. CF dominated, now SD is slowly making its way in.

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!