"Entry level SLR". What?

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  • 11-15-2008, 09:42 AM
    Oblivion
    "Entry level SLR". What?
    I've been curious while looking at camera reviews and such, what people mean when they say "entry level SLR" (such as a Canon Rebel XS). Realistically, you should be able to take the same quality pictures, right? People are always saying that the real issue is the quality of lens you're shooting with. From what I can tell, the nicer cameras have some cool features and stuff, but not the kind of things that change picture quality when doing everything manually. An example would be more AF points, those don't really matter if you're focusing manually. Higher megapixel, that doesn't really matter as long as I'm not blowing it up significantly. Higher ISO and Shutter speed, I can get around those. I know some cameras have better color reception and stuff, but I've seen pictures that professionals have taken with "entry level SLR's" that are amazing. What do you guys think?

    -Oblivion
  • 11-15-2008, 11:32 AM
    Sushigaijin
    Re: "Entry level SLR". What?
    this is a tough question to answer, because a lot of times the lines aren't clearly drawn. In general a pro dSLR will offer the things that pros need to get the picture. Since that photo is putting bread on their table, they may need a high frame rate, indestructible build, high ISO performance and weather sealing to keep the rain out.

    On the other hand, at low ISO the current dSLRs are very similar in output - you probably couldn't tell the difference between them if you tried.

    Probably 90% of photography is the person behind the viewfinder.
  • 11-15-2008, 11:48 AM
    Franglais
    D60
    I'm currently using the D60 (entry level camera) for personal things around the city, trips to exhibitions, museums, parties. I have seen no difference in the pictures this camera produces and those done by my D200, using the same (high quality) lenses.

    The difference is in the usage. If I want to change from a walk-about-Paris setup to a do-a-self-portrait-by-studio-flash setup then it takes 5 minutes on the D60 to fiddle about with the menus, multipurpose buttons and dials whereas with the D200/D300 it takes 5 seconds and it's easier to understand with each function being controlled by a standard button or wheel.

    You need to understand what features you really need. When I'm wandering about Paris I don't need 51 focus points and 8 frames/second. I need 1 central focus point (accurate), small size, light weight and quiet shutter release. The D60 fits the bill for Paris.
  • 11-15-2008, 11:55 AM
    Didache
    Re: "Entry level SLR". What?
    The term "entry level" is strictly an informal category. It basically means a camera designed for a first time DSLR buyer. The competition at the lower price point is very severe and all the manufacturers are under a lot of pressure to produce a camera which is cheaper than the opposition, or at least around the same price. Hence cameras made for this market will have a mass-produced standard lens which is adequate, but not great. It will have a cheaper body construction, the feature set will be basic, and the technology will not be cutting edge. This is how the manufacters keep the price down.

    It must be said that one of the reasons this price point is so competitive is because users generally stick with the DSLR brand they start with - so Nikon, Pentax, Canon, etc know very well that if they get you to buy their entry level model, you will likely upgrade to the same company, buy better lenses from them, and so on.

    In addition, some manufacturers (Nikon is a good example) will actually produce the camera to be deliberately simple for a first time user to use: the menu system will be fairly easy to navigate and the whole thing will be designed around pre-set modes, etc.

    An "enthusiast" or "pro" camera, on the other hand, will have a superior body construction (weather sealing, steel chassis, etc), more cutting edge technology, and a superior feature set designed around the needs of more experienced photographers.

    This does not mean they will necessarily take better pictures (although they may) - but it does mean that they will take more of a battering, and will have features likely to be of use to people who want more than a "point and shoot" approach.

    In the end, you pretty well get what you pay for.

    Cheers
    Mike
  • 11-15-2008, 12:05 PM
    Franglais
    Re: "Entry level SLR". What?
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Didache
    In addition, some manufacturers (Nikon is a good example) will actually produce the camera to be deliberately simple for a first time user to use: the menu system will be fairly easy to navigate and the whole thing will be designed around pre-set modes, etc.

    An "enthusiast" or "pro" camera, on the other hand, will have a superior body construction (weather sealing, steel chassis, etc), more cutting edge technology, and a superior feature set designed around the needs of more experienced photographers.

    Got any examples?

    I'm not sure that Nikon left out many features in the D60 compared with the D200/D300. Sometimes you have to search the menus a bit to find where a particular feature is buried but so far I've found all I need.

    Example: normally I would use the D200 in the studio but I needed to do some self-portraits and I don't have an infra-red remote control for the D200 wheras the little button thing I bought for the D70 works with the D60. I could set the D60 up just like the D200, even the built-in flash on manual 1/16 power to trigger the stobes. Impressive.
  • 11-15-2008, 02:05 PM
    Oblivion
    Re: "Entry level SLR". What?
    Okay, thanks guys. From what I can tell, Sushigaijin hit it on the head in his comment: "A pro dSLR will offer the things that pros need to get the picture". Thus, most of the benifits of professional cameras don't directly relate to the image.

    For myself, I don't mind time consuming and technical camera adjustments as long as I can get a good picture.

    -Oblivion
  • 11-16-2008, 02:31 PM
    Franglais
    Addendum
    Following our conversation about whether "entry-level" DSLR's have less features because they are simplified - I just discovered an EXTRA feature on the D60 that isn't on the pro SLR's.

    I noticed that the D60 was getting the occasional shot focussed on the background when I did a focus-and-hold on an off-center subject. I just found out why. The camera has an extra AF-A focussing mode where it switches from AF-S mode to AF-C (continuous) mode if it thinks the subject is in movement. And it's the default.

    I've switched over to AF-S mode, just like on the D200/D300. Must read the manual some more.
  • 11-16-2008, 04:51 PM
    Loupey
    Re: "Entry level SLR". What?
    I could be wrong, but I don't believe that the manufacturer's themselves use the term "entry level SLR". I think we all agree that virtually all dSLRs are full of features and capabilities.

    So that term when used, I think, simply refers to "lowest price entry point".

    And lowest price entry point cameras do not necessarily equate to lowest image quality capturing cameras.
  • 12-04-2008, 02:02 AM
    Anbesol
    Re: "Entry level SLR". What?
    Though a lot of people are rather dismissive about the advantage of higher end DSLR's, I am rather enthusiastic about it. In all manufacturers, higher end DSLR's use better sensors, with better noise and color performance, and all have faster AF and a significantly more rugged body. The rugged body not only makes it more durable, but its also more pleasant to use and carry, the difference in the feel of menu navigation and metering.

    White balance, drive modes, ISO, AF switch, af-c/s/a modes are all much easier to adjust in pro bodies, and makes for much more productive field shooting. I started with an 'entry level' DSLR and switched to a pro-body DSLR (Minolta 5D-Sony A700). Though I was always pleased with the image quality of the 5D and it never let me down, the function benefit of the A700 was very welcome! I considered it very carefully myself, I looked at the A300, A350, and A700, I decided to allocate a bit more of the budget for the A700, and in hindsight and 10,000 pictures later, I know I made the right choice.

    If its a matter of constrained budget, and the choice is good lens or good camera body, then the lens holds priority. But, that extra chunk you spend for the pro body is well worth it.

    Its not the magic trick that makes your pictures better, but its the superior tool in <b>getting</b> the images you want.