“Hey that’s a damn good photo, which camera?”
“Why do you carry that camera bag when you can have this gazillion megapixel pocket camera?”
“Should I buy this SLR thingy?”
“What SLR should I buy?”
“Why won’t your SLR zoom? Where is the Zoom/movie button?”
“What!!!!! your big camera can’t make movies? Why did you buy it then?”
Ever heard any of the above? Those are some of the questions I came across. If you read them carefully, you will realize that all of them are asked by someone who knows camera as a box with a click button. Some of these questions really cracked me up, some upset me. So I decided to write down my thoughts. Before we continue, a declaration is on the way.
Camera does not make great photo, photographer and light does.
A point and shoot is what my mother use.
Lens, viewfinder, aperture, ISO, Noise, shutter, exposure. All of them are important.
SLRs don’t zoom, lenses do.
No, SLR don’t make movies. Just like your car can not “make” coffee.
Phew. With that out of way, we can continue with more sensible discussion. First let us say that point and shoot cameras are not bad. In fact with the technological advances they have only become better. If you need easy to use, compact and lightweight camera, do not even think about DSLR. DSLRs are heavy, bulky and have a steep learning curve. You will not be able to slip DSLR in your shirt pocket and not notice it. If you want a good P&S go to the camera shop, try various P&S. Try different manufacturers, click test pictures without flash, see the pictures on a laptop at 100% size, then decide which is the camera for you.
When you are in market for buying a DSLR there are various factors which comes before you even start looking at a camera store. You would need to know the answers of following questions:
1. What kind of photography I want to do?
Travel, architecture, sports, fashion, wildlife, candid, walkabout… There are more than enough types to choose from. This is the most confusing question of them all as it is more of an artistic question rather than a technical one. You will be the best person to answer it as well. Just ensure that you are honest while deciding your shooting style. Shooting your son’s football game once a year does not mean that you want to do mainly sports with your camera.
2. What is my budget?
At least initially you will need to know what kind of budget you have allocated for photography. After you have started with the exciting world of DSLR, you will be broke anyways. As soon as you start understanding “sharp”, “IS/VR/OS”, “wide open”, “more reach” etc, your bank balance would be in serious danger.
3. How deeply you want to be involved in photography?
Though with time, photography has become cheaper than what it used to be, it still costs money, time and effort. If you go ahead and buy a top of the line DSLR for bragging right and use it only a few times in a year in full auto mode, you might as well donate that money to a good charity. A camera sitting on a shelf for months does not make you a better photographer. You have to give it some time and be ready to take efforts in learning various techniques.
4. Megapixels don’t not matter.
If you search the net, you will notice that people keep saying megapixels won;t matter. I can not agree more with that saying. You might want to consider that bigger sensor will result in better pictures. A compact camera with tiny sensor may have 10 Megapixel crammed on it, but a 6 Megapixel SLR with bigger sensor will almost always do better. Have a look at this article in DPreview.com.
5. Canon/Nikon/Pentax/Sony is better than Canon/Nikon/Pentax/Sony
Honestly, no. They are all fine. Still the DSLR market is dominated by Canon/Nikon as they have a huge lens lineup. When choosing what brand to go along with, consider what kind of lenses you will be investing into. Do a price comparison of lens prices on various sites. See the samples of various camera bodies/lenses. Go to the camera store, hold the camera, operate it, feel it and then may be you will have an idea on what camera feel “right”.
I will write the next installment of this article, in which we will explore various startup gears one can indulge into without causing a serious damage to his bank balance.