Why DSLRs make sense
Mar 29, 2008, 14:22 GMT
Washington - These days, when you go shopping for a digital camera, you have two broad choices.
Should you buy a pocketable point-and-shoot, or should you spend a bit more on a digital single-lens reflect camera (DSLR)?
Sales figures show that a growing number of people are choosing the latter, and they just might be on to something.
Not only have the prices of DSLRs come down to the point where they're essentially no more expensive than a top-end point-and-shoot camera, but they provide several advantages that smaller digital cameras just can't match.
Here's a rundown.
DSLRs are fast in every way that really matters to picture takers. While compact digital cameras can take up to two seconds to go from off to on, DSLRs are built to respond more like traditional film cameras. Off-to-on time is usually under a second, sometimes substantially so.
The speed advantages don't end there, however. If you're interested, as famed photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson was, in 'capturing the decisive moment,' you need a camera that can capture two or three photographs in rapid succession.
The DSLRs on the market today can generally take anywhere from three to six images per second. With point-and-shoot models, there's often a lag between the time you press the shutter button and when the camera actually snaps the picture.
Other operational features of DSLRs are snappier, too. Reviewing images taken on a DSLR is often near instantaneous. Navigating through menus is quicker, as is auto-focusing.
Any tech gadget you carry around with you is going to get bumped and banged along the way. DSLRs are made to take a bit of bruising. Some models, such as the Canon 40D, are even 'weather sealed,' meaning they're actually designed to operate in inclement weather. Many DSLRs are built upon a metal chassis rather than plastic, which means a firmer feel in your hand and better ability to withstand mishaps on the road.
The flexibility of a compact digital camera is limited from the outset. You'll never get more 'zoom' than the one supplied with the camera's built-in lens, and you'll never be able to squeak more performance or sharpness out of the camera by purchasing a new lens.
DSLRs, by contrast, can adapt to a wide range of shooting styles and goals. The fact that DSLRs allow you to swap out one lens for another is the big draw. Want to shoot wide-angle landscapes? Pop on one of the many lenses available. Want to shoot birds and other wildlife? Consider getting a telephoto lens.
Most DSLRs on the market today - Nikon, Canon, Olympus, even Sony - are offered by companies that sell complete camera 'systems' that include flashes, remote control units, battery packs, and a wide range of lenses.
--- Manual controls
There's nothing wrong with not wanting to think about how to take a picture before you take one. That's what point-and-shoot cameras are all about. DSLRs have an easy mode as well. But when you'd like to get creative, your camera needs to make it easy for you to do so. Compact cameras do not. Generally you'll have to wade through slow menus on a compact camera in order to change aperture or shutter speed settings. These and other settings are available via dials or buttons on DSLRs.
--- Image quality
DSLRs have larger sensors - the light-gathering chips at the heart of digital cameras. The sensors on DSLRs can be about the same size as a 35mm film negative, while compact digital cameras have sensors that are often not much bigger than the tip of your thumb. Generally larger sensors have better light-gathering capabilities, more dynamic range, and better colour than smaller sensors.
All of this is not to say that smaller, point-and-shoot cameras don't have their place. They do. When all you really want is to travel light with a gadget that will allow you to capture fond memories and family moments without a lot of fuss, a small camera may be just right for you. If you want to avoid the temptation of buying additional add-ons, lenses, and other gadgets that DSLR users often tack on to broaden their picture-taking abilities, then go light and stick with a point-and-shoot.
But if quality is what you're after and missing shots because of your camera ranks high on your list of annoyances, then a DSLR is probably your best choice.