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Thread: Why Go To DSLR?

  1. #1
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    Why Go To DSLR?

    I've recently begun to do some serious (but amateur) photography, and am thinknig of "upgrading" to a DSLR. But I'd like to know WHY - will I get more from it.

    I have been using a Nikon Coolpix 8800 for a couple of years. Other than being very slow writing on the cards when shooting large pics, I like the results I'm getting. It has 8 megs, and a 10X zoom. Also decent Macro.
    A large electronic swivel viewfinder, and a fairly large lens.

    I like taking nature, cityscapes & people. Not doing sports or portraits at this time.

    So if I go to a DSLR, what will I get that I don't have with this?

    Thanks
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  2. #2
    can't Re-member lidarman's Avatar
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    Well just having a camera (and knowing how to use it) is 95% of it--the rest is details.

    SLR are about flexibility and that extra 5%

    DSLR's allow you to
    • use various lenses to suit specific shooting requirements.
    • Better Optics in general.
    • use fast lenses with very short depth of fields and lock on that subject.
    • use large sensors with better noise quality and more sophisticated image processing.
    • Faster frame rates with shorter lag times.
    • External controls on almost all features, so changing settings don't require looking at the LCD.
    • External flashes that are matched with camera.
    • More control on shooting parameters such as Curtain sync'ing and white balance.
    Bottom line is no camera can give a photographer creativity and inspiration..it can only give him or her a tool to express it. SLRs just add more flexibility.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Anbesol's Avatar
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    there are TONS of differences - but I'd probably say the biggest one is ISO.

    sure, other cameras offer you 800 or 1600. but my minolta 5D's noise looks better at 3200 then any digicams look at 400 or 800... optics too... of course.

  4. #4
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    SLRs in genreal have features that P&S cameras don't have. Lidarman covered them all pretty well, but the features that I have found most important to my photography, which is mostly vacation pics, are:

    * No shutter lag. Yes, you have to pre-focus, but when you click the button to actually trake the pic, it actually takes the pic, no waiting.

    * Modular construction. Pick the body you like, pick the lens or lenses you like, pick additional accessories like battery grips, hot shoe flashes, remote shutter releases, etc., and build your own personal camera set up to fit your needs.

    * Flexibility. SLRs come with modes from full auto to full manual, and a bunch in between, and generally let you adjust the settings in each mode to a greater degree than most P&S cameras. You don't have to use all that stuff - but it's all there if you need it.

  5. #5
    Panarus biarmicus Moderator (Sports) SmartWombat's Avatar
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    A contrarian's view
    A DSLR will ///
    - cost much more
    - weigh far more
    - take up more space in your bag
    - get dust in it when you change lenses
    - be a pain to clean internally (if you dare)
    - require return to the manufacturer to clean (if you don't dare)
    + work in lower light *
    + have higher ISO settings **
    + take photos when you press the button ***
    + start immediately ****

    * My Minolta A1 P&S focussed in lower light than the Canon 300D
    ** at the same ISO setting, a DSLR shoudl have less noise than a P&S
    *** But my A1 also does that ... IF you pre-focus and use Manual mode
    **** on the 20D certainly, not sure anout the 300 and 350

    You may find you carry a DSLR less often than your P&S
    PAul

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  6. #6
    Learning more with every "click" mjs1973's Avatar
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    Is there something you want to do that your Coolpix wont let you? If you're Coolpix is limiting what you want to do then I would consider stepping up to a DSLR, but until then, I would keep shooting with what you have.
    Mike

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  7. #7
    Senior Member Ronnoco's Avatar
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    Quote Originally Posted by SmartWombat
    A contrarian's view
    A DSLR will ///
    - cost much more
    - weigh far more
    - take up more space in your bag
    - get dust in it when you change lenses
    - be a pain to clean internally (if you dare)
    - require return to the manufacturer to clean (if you don't dare)
    + work in lower light *
    + have higher ISO settings **
    + take photos when you press the button ***
    + start immediately ****

    * My Minolta A1 P&S focussed in lower light than the Canon 300D
    ** at the same ISO setting, a DSLR shoudl have less noise than a P&S
    *** But my A1 also does that ... IF you pre-focus and use Manual mode
    **** on the 20D certainly, not sure anout the 300 and 350

    You may find you carry a DSLR less often than your P&S
    Yes, a DSLR that is much smaller, lighter, without a dust problem, a swivel OLED screen, an anti-shake system of course in the camera body, built-in as well as hot shoe flash, WIFI connection to computer and off camera remote TTL flash and designed ease of use in terms of the location of buttons, dials, etc. Needless to say all of this should be at a reasonable price...certainly below several thousand dollars.

    Ronnoco

  8. #8
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    Hello Coach...I recently went through this dilemma. I used a Kodak DX 4330 for about 3 years. Then I upgraded to the Nikon Coolpix 8400. I loved it, but then I purchased a Pentax *ist DL for the wife. That was it...2 weeks later I bought me one.
    I found that it was actually easier to use than my 8400 and much faster. I have had a few problems with keeping the sensor clean and even had to have my wife's sent to the factory as a piece of debris got somewhere that couldn't be cleaned manually. My picture taking has improved slightly because I find myself using only manual 99% of the time. I still carry my Nikon and my Kodak, but mostly for backup and to let the grandkids use. However, I upgraded mainly for the ability to have more zoom. Unlike your 8800, my 8400 only had 3x zoom...but it does have the 24mm lense which is great and offers me some flexibility combined with my Pentax. It really all comes down to how far you want to take your photography. If you want the flexibility, then upgrade to the DSLR's, if you like the convenience of the p/s's, there are pros out there who only use p/s's. Don't think that upgrading is necessary to improve your photography. It's the nut behind the camera that creates the masterpiece, not the camera.
    Ken
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  9. #9
    sqrt -1 greghalliday's Avatar
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anbesol
    there are TONS of differences - but I'd probably say the biggest one is ISO.

    sure, other cameras offer you 800 or 1600. but my minolta 5D's noise looks better at 3200 then any digicams look at 400 or 800... optics too... of course.
    VERY true. I would buy a DSLR for this reason alone. It makes such a difference in actual usability that any story I could tell regarding this would border on hyperbole. Close to 70% of the images I took on a recent winter trip to Prague would have been unusable had they been taken with my A60 P&S (an otherwise great 2MP camera). ISO 800 on my 20D looks like ISO 100 or 200 on the A60. Even the images taken at ISO 1600 and 3200 are acceptable. I have not used a digital P&S that gives me as nice an image from even ISO 400.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Greg

  10. #10
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    Hmmmm - Pros & Cons.
    I do like the 8800 - have taken some beautiful shots with wonderful detail at 10X zoom. Recently I would have liked to go faster than ISO 400, but ended up with some good night shots anyway - but I am sure they could have been better. And when I shoot in RAW at 8 megs, I can fall asleep waiting for the image to write to the card. But, overall it's pretty good - for now, anyway. I guess I'll readress this issue in a few months, and then again, and again, and again....
    http://liphotoman.smugmug.com/

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  11. #11
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    Or, you could go back to film
    No dust problems....

  12. #12
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    Quote Originally Posted by TTT
    Or, you could go back to film
    No dust problems....
    Dust on scanned film was always a major annoyance for me. In addition to the dust, there were the lab workers who always seemed compelled to eat a basket of fried chicken while they were handling my film.

  13. #13
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    I went from Z1 to a Rebel XT and I use my DSLR as much or more because the image quality, ease of use, and personal satisfaction are higher. With my Canon, I do not have to wonder if I will get the shot. The write time on RAW is quick, even with slow Kodak cards.
    My name is Scott, and I take pictures.

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  14. #14
    can't Re-member lidarman's Avatar
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    Quote Originally Posted by Erik Stiegler
    Dust on scanned film was always a major annoyance for me. In addition to the dust, there were the lab workers who always seemed compelled to eat a basket of fried chicken while they were handling my film.
    Exactly. There is always a dust problem. It's just at what point dust can get in the process.

  15. #15
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    UHOH.
    I thought I had convinced myself to NOT go DSLR at this time. However, yesterday in B&H I checked out some DSLR's, and I was quite surprised at the feel of the D200. It was much more comfortable to use than I thought it would be. It actually seemed much more user friendly than my Coolpix 8800.
    So now thinknig more.
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  16. #16
    Nature/Wildlife Forum Co-Moderator Loupey's Avatar
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    Now you did it. You "looked" at one.

    That's why I don't like to go to camera/computer/sporting goods stores anymore. If I do, it's only to get that one specific thing and run out. Otherwise, I end up with stuff I didn't know I needed, wanted, or even existed
    Please do not edit or repost my images.

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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    AND to make matters even worse - a friend today offered to sell me his Canon 20D with a couple of upgraded lenses for significantly less than the Nikon 200 would cost. He bought it as a "backup" to other SLR's he has, but his others are strictly professional grade, so this has been used only a couple of times.
    I am going to try it out this weekend.
    http://liphotoman.smugmug.com/

    We share the same biology, Regardless of ideology

  18. #18
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    Digital SLR Buyer's Guide

    I wrote this Digital SLR Guide with you in mind - or at least someone with the same questions

    http://www.photographyreview.com/dig...rguidecrx.aspx

    Lidarman did cover the main issues, and Smart Wombat gave a pretty good counterpoint. There is something to be said for superzoom compacts. I think the Konica Minolta A200 is a wonderful camera with nearly all of the flexibility of a digital SLR, and in a much smaller and lighter package. But I don't own one...
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  19. #19
    Senior Member Ronnoco's Avatar
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    Quote Originally Posted by greghalliday
    VERY true. I would buy a DSLR for this reason alone. It makes such a difference in actual usability that any story I could tell regarding this would border on hyperbole. Close to 70% of the images I took on a recent winter trip to Prague would have been unusable had they been taken with my A60 P&S (an otherwise great 2MP camera). ISO 800 on my 20D looks like ISO 100 or 200 on the A60. Even the images taken at ISO 1600 and 3200 are acceptable. I have not used a digital P&S that gives me as nice an image from even ISO 400.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Greg
    Almost all of that difference however is due to 2MP of your P. & S. versus 8 MP of your 20D. A point and shoot with 8 mp. versus your 20D would be a much more worthwhile comparison.

    Ronnoco

  20. #20
    Senior Member Ronnoco's Avatar
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    Quote Originally Posted by coachgns
    UHOH.
    I thought I had convinced myself to NOT go DSLR at this time. However, yesterday in B&H I checked out some DSLR's, and I was quite surprised at the feel of the D200. It was much more comfortable to use than I thought it would be. It actually seemed much more user friendly than my Coolpix 8800.
    So now thinknig more.
    I agree, but I am also interested in waiting to see the Sony Alpha on the projected release of June 9th. I am not particularly impressed with Sony, but a Minolta like camera with Zeiss lenses and 8 to 10 mp would certainly be worth a look.

    Ronnoco

  21. #21
    Senior Member Ronnoco's Avatar
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    Re: Digital SLR Buyer's Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by Photo-John
    I wrote this Digital SLR Guide with you in mind - or at least someone with the same questions

    http://www.photographyreview.com/dig...rguidecrx.aspx

    Lidarman did cover the main issues, and Smart Wombat gave a pretty good counterpoint. There is something to be said for superzoom compacts. I think the Konica Minolta A200 is a wonderful camera with nearly all of the flexibility of a digital SLR, and in a much smaller and lighter package. But I don't own one...
    I do own one, and I agree with John. On some occasions, with its flexibility , I can get the shot that I would have missed with my SLR.

    Ronnoco

  22. #22
    Junior Member rpiereck's Avatar
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    I bought my Rebel Xti because my Powershot A640 was stolen, and since buying my first DSRL I am taking more pictures for the simple fact that I carry the camera around my neck.

    The Powershot spent most of its life in its bag, and when I wanted to bring it out I had to get the small bag from inside my backpack or wife's purse, unzip it, bring out the camera, start it up, wait for it to be ready to shoot and then shoot.

    The Rebel is bigger so it's never inside the backpack or the purse. Even if I have it in it's camera bag, it's large enough to hang on my side instead of inside another bag. When I startup the Rebel it is pretty much ready to shoot, startup time is great on the XTi. So I find that despite the extra bulk and weight I am becoming more productive because the camera is always there, ready to shoot.

    Last night I was taking pictures of my dog in low light without a flash. The Rebel 1600 ISO setting was enough and produced very acceptable levels of noise, one thing that I could have never done on my A640. It only went to 800 ISO and already produced too much noise at 400 ISO.

    I am really enjoying my XTi and I am already saving to buy a better lens than the 18-55mm kit lens that came with it.

  23. #23
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    i think better low light performance is the only real gain..

    compared to something like the panasonic FZ50 or another decent compact it is.. an FZ50 with usable ISO 800 would be hard to beat..

    trog

  24. #24
    project forum co-moderator Frog's Avatar
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    I didn't see any mention of faster focus in the above replys.
    I had an 8700 and yes I got some very nice photos with it but it was slow to focus and slow to write.
    My d80 focuses right now and I thought I didn't even want auto-focus.
    Its sort of like the difference between dial-up and cable.
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  25. #25
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    Re: Why Go To DSLR?

    I am not sure what the advantages are to an intermedate camera is. I have never owned one. But to me the advantages to the DSLR are, more control of the final image. Just shooting in RAW format and haveing that much control alone. Also a DSLR will hold it's value longer and sense you are buying a system when you upgrade most times you keep the lenes and just upgrade the body. I am also not sure that you can use filters on intermedate cameras. Once you make the plunge you won't look back.
    Greg
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