I don't actually own one, but I have done exhaustive research leading me to not even buy one! I prefer the look of my Fuji pictures too much to "settle". I'd wait to October to see what they are coming out with..
1) Bring your own memory card so you can take lots of pictures in the store..
2) Think about the menus and how easy you can access common settings. Recall what you like about your current camera and how you would do the same on an SLR. Unless you despise your current P&S you'll probably want something that operates similar and some of the reasons why people dislike the one you want is because it doesn't operate how they are used to..
3) What qualities do you like about the pictures you take? Browse around flickr or some forums and get a feel for what a Canon looks like, Nikon, Olympus, etc...
I especially like the tip about bringing a memory card and trying a camera right in the store..
Thanks for all the tips and hints.LucyU ZI owner!Olympus C30-20Zhttp://www.pbase.com/lucyFCAS Member #98, Oly Division'Photography is the art of seeing what others do not.'.
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I agree - but I went to one local store that wouldn't allow it. Needless to say I wouldn't consider buying from them..
I especially like the tip about bringing a memory card and trying acamera right in the store...
I purchased my first dSLR in July, the Canon XT. I didn't make a snap decision, I first decided if an SLR is really what I wanted..
I think the most important thing is what the OP said: learn what SLR photography is. Before purchasing it, I scoured this site and every tutorial I could find before even handling my first SLR. I learned about aperture, shutter, ISO, etc. What I learned initially was camera agnostic. Also, I read up on post processing. Before ordering my camera, I had "book knowledge" of how to shoot with an SLR.
I've never used any of the auto modes, I used P mode initially to get a feel for the shutter/aperture combos, now I shoot in Av mostly and also Manual. The reason this is so important is b/c it's a fairly decent time commitment to get any good. This may not be what you are looking for. After doing all the reading, I realized this was something I wanted to invest time and money doing..
Then I went onto the models. And I tend to believe that for the most part, you can't go wrong with any of the big name SLR makers. All are goign to be pretty good. They will each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Knowing how you want to use it will help you somewhat. I chose Canon b/c I've had Canon P&S that I've been happy with.
My main driving force to thinking about SLR was when I took my Canon P&S to my daughter's ballet recital. The pics were lackluster (some was my fault b/c I had done no research into photography and didn't know anythign about aperture even.) But equally frustrating was the fact that I would miss the "money shot" b/c of the shutter lag. I got frustrated and figured I'd have to live with it and talked to someone who told me SLRs would help this problem..
And finally, do your equipment research. I initially thought the camera body would be my biggest purchase (dollars wise). I had no earthly idea that this would probably be on the cheap end! Then you realize how much stuff you need or would like: external flash, more lenses, filters, etc. It all adds up..
And finally - realizing that getting an SLR will not make you a better photographer. I was half expecting that I would be producing pics like ones I see on here from the seasoned folks. Even after all the reading I still thought I'd be better than I was. In all honesty, my first month or two had a rate where 50% of images were throw aways, unsalvagable junk. 30% were okay but weren't sharp or had focused on wrong object, 18% were properly focused, but maybe exposure off a little or just not interested, then the 2% were actually pretty good. I found that SLRs are flexible but that flexibility comes at a price - gives a lot of ways to screw up! Now, I'm much better.
Now I'm focusing on the "artistic" part..
Anyway, that's my two cents. This is a fantastic hobby. I love the possibilities. I love how it motivates you to get out and do something - anything. Anywhere can be interesting. Plus my 5 year old is fascinated with pictures and cameras so it gives us something to do and the best model to work with.Just trying to learn.
Blog: http://novicephotog.blogspot.com/Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9778447@N07/..
Well said WildBill, and replies I'm making my first plunge into DSLRs shortly, have been researching for a good 6 months or more! (Finally made up my mind now, just waiting for final finance approval from the minister for war and finance...)..
I think another important note is to stress that buying a DSLR WILL NOT instantly make your photos better! I'm fully aware of this, and as others have said, I know the theory of a good photograph, Aperture, EV, White balance, ISO... I've got all the book learning, but I've no doubt my photos will still only be mediocre at best!.
In the course of my research, I've seen many posts, and heard firsthand experience from people who've bought a DSLR expecting it to magically make them take better photos... It's a learning curve folks, you've gotta be prepared to learn a little! I'm looking forward to having some fun learning about using my new baby to it's full potential, and learning how to take better photos technically AND artisticly with it...