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Do I need a DSLR?
I currently have a six-year old compact camera and want to replace it...but do I need a DSLR?.

It is mostly to take pictures of the kids growing up... and my biggest frustration is the time lag between pressing the shutter and the picture being taken... I seem to miss all the right moments..

From time to time I borrow a Canon DSLR. I hold my finger on the shutter and rattle off 10 pictures... and many of them are great! But can I get this level of responsiveness in a more up-to-date compact camera?.

I also have an old (1995) Nikon N70 with three lenses... 24-50 and 80-200 (+one more) AF-D and a SB(?) 200 flash. Is it worth getting a body that is compatible with them, or has technology moved on?.

And finally, is Live View a good thing? My instinct says I would like it, given the convenience in a compact camera... but does it make a difference on an SLR?..

Comments (12)

Yes, you need a dSLR. Newer compacts are better but not as good as a dSLR..

Lenses have not changed in the way cameras have and mid-90s lenses are still current in many cases. A camera compatible with the lenses you have will save you buying them again, which may or may not be an issue: check the replacement prices and decide..

Live view is useful in some specialised situations (like taking photographs holding the camera out the window of a moving car) but not otherwise...

Comment #1

Provided that you would take a camera that hangs around your neck on a strap with you often enough, then for the purposes described a DSLR could be right for you. Consider the Sony Alpha 350 which has a flip out LCD with live view (those that don't flip miss the whole point.).

On the other hand I don't find my Fuji 9600 (it is like a DSLR to use but with just the one fixed zoom lens) is particularly slow. With this shot I judged where the ball was going to be, pre-focused there and pressed the shutter when I though it was right: see:-.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

My 2003 Canon s400 is way too slow... but it can produce some amusing results:.

See:-.

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But the DSLR seldom fails as it offers fast shutter and usable high ISO.

See:-.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

John.Please visit me at:http://www.pbase.com/johnfr/backtothebridgehttp://www.pbase.com/johnfr/digital_dartmoor..

Comment #2

Thanks..

Given the lenses are Nikon, I believe that it is only the D80 (and up) which is compatible.... considerable more expensive that D40/ D60... or indeed Canon 450d. The D80 probably has a lot of stuff on it that I will never learn how to use..

My gut reaction is the 450d... up to date and with Live View which sounds nice... feels like a can't-go-wrong option...

Comment #3

Very useful..

The portability element is an important one... (shame on me, but...) Some of my "best" (i.e. I like the pictures, rather than technically brilliant) shots are taken with the camera on my phone (Sony 750i... has basic autofocus) precisely because it lives in my pocket, and is thus always with me at the right time..

What sort of "fps" rate can you get on a compact now (at full quality).... I saw that the new Nikon offered 6-8 but at much lower image quality...

Comment #4

Some of my most interesting shots have also been taken on a small P&S - that's why I'm not getting rid of the little s400 any day soon!.

Frame rates? Max 3 for 7 shots on the new Fuji s100FS (big camera though), just under two on the newest Sony (w300), the others 1.5 ish. But that really isn't the way to go: my old Minolta D7i would run at 7.5fps at 2MP and there's only one or two shots that I'd call "keepers" from running it at that speed..

DSLRs with usable 800/1600 ISO open up so many possibilities. The entry level ones from Olympus or Nikon are quite small if you don't add a massive lens..

Thousands wouldn't need a DSLR if Canon made a G10 with 28 to something fast zoom and brought back the articulating LCD. But I think they know that perfectly well and want you to buy their S5is and, preferably, DSLRs plus expensive lenses!.

John.Please visit me at:http://www.pbase.com/johnfr/backtothebridgehttp://www.pbase.com/johnfr/digital_dartmoor..

Comment #5

The 80-200 f/2.8 costs about US$900 new - more than the cameras you are talking about. If you are ever going to want that or a similar lens it makes dollar sense to keep the one you have and get a camera you can use it on. On the other hand if you don't want it you could sell it and pay for most of a camera...

Comment #6

Abonwick wrote:.

I currently have a six-year old compact camera and want to replaceit...but do I need a DSLR?.

No you don't "need one" but you will certainly be happier with the images it takes over the compacts..

It is mostly to take pictures of the kids growing up... and mybiggest frustration is the time lag between pressing the shutter andthe picture being taken... I seem to miss all the right moments..

And even the best compact is not going to give you the shutter response times of a DSLR. I used to shoot my kids soccer games with a 3 frame per second DSLR. I am now using one that shoots at 8 FPS. I get more keepers with the faster frame rate..

From time to time I borrow a Canon DSLR. I hold my finger on theshutter and rattle off 10 pictures... and many of them are great!But can I get this level of responsiveness in a more up-to-datecompact camera?.

No.

I also have an old (1995) Nikon N70 with three lenses... 24-50 and80-200 (+one more) AF-D and a SB(?) 200 flash. Is it worth getting abody that is compatible with them, or has technology moved on?.

A D40 would put you into manual focus with these lenses. A D80 technically would be overkill, but if you leave it on Auto and only play with what you want it would still do the job very well, but omits some of the newer features (live view, image processing, etc.).

And finally, is Live View a good thing? My instinct says I wouldlike it, given the convenience in a compact camera... but does itmake a difference on an SLR?.

It doesn't make a "difference" unless it is something you intend to use. I find it occasional convenient, but not a deal breaker for me..

I shoot Nikon and Pentax. If I were to go out and get a camera based on the requirements you listed and add in you are used to the compacts portability I would give the Olympus E-420 a serious look. With the 25mm pancake lens it isn't much larger than the Canon Power Shots..

If I was willing to go up in size I would be looking at the Pentax K200, Oly E-510 and Sony 350 which will provide image stabilization built in vs. having to buy stabilized lenses for Canon or Nikon..

But the original question about needing one... If you want better image quality in more adverse conditions with low shutter lag and higher frame rates... then yes you need one...

Comment #7

My brother-in-law likes taking photos, mostly of birds, with a Canon S5 IS. He has absolutely no interest the process and always shoots automatic. He has minimal interest in low-light shots and doesn't mind missing a few. He loves the zoom and not having to carry or change lenses. He prints up to 11x14 and is happy with the results..

Buying a DSLR is not necessarily a step up..

Lastly, the best camera in the world takes louses pictures in your closet. My sister wanted a camera to take pictures of her grandchildren and she wanted one she could drop in her purse.Patrick T. KellyOaxaca, Mexico..

Comment #8

There maybe different liking and opion. However, if you want instant capture then at least for the time being a DSLR is still the best chose..

When you need a camera for a specific purpose, pocketabilty is definitely not the factor. Point and shoot are for no specific mission but to be in easy reach when you need it. I take a P&S with me for that particular reason. When I want to do something special, I take my DSLR and specific lens along for that purpose..

So, to asnwer your question (I think I am quite qualified as I love kids, have my own kids and take pictures of them all the time), I would tell you my own experience. I have been a photographer for decades, so I do start using a Dslr very early. There Are P&S in the family and they serve their purpose, but I have to remember that with a P&S the moment you decide to take a picture; take out the P&S, turn it on and then press the shutter takes quite some time. If you are used to a film camera, you would be very frustrated. So having a P&S with you all the time, do not mean you can capture the image you want all the time! That is true especially for kids who refuse to stop and pose for you. You take out the P&S , turn it on and press the shutter, by the time the shutter do open (yes, pressing the shutter button do not mean the shutter will open at once)and take the picture, that kid is probably gone out of your sight..

After several outtings, I finally decided to use a P&S as a sort of always there camera for general purpose. When I have kids around and I like to capture their image, I always have my DSLR on hand. I can turn it on take it to my eye and capture in a second. Any bad shoots or shoots timed wrong is my problem. Never able to operate this way with a P&S. In fact, I would rather say that to take good picture with a P&S require more technique then a DSLR (Good picture not jsut a picture)because the tool is more restrictive..

For pure technical advise, I think there are already plenty, so I would not go into that. For me, if I am in your shoes, I would get a D80 and just set it P (which is full auto) and start to enjoy the kids. Learn to use it more if you are interested otherwise just blast away in auto, who cares. For someone coming from a compact film camera, the modern P&S would be more difficult to get use to...

Comment #9

Sound like there is fair amount of consensus on the value of a DSLR... none of my lenses are particularly valuable/ expensive... the best option feels like going straight into an entry-level kit, rather than shelling out a lot for a compatible (D80 or up) body...

Comment #10

This is very useful... I think, actually, one of the main problems is that when my (slow) P&S comes out the kids DO stop and pose... and thus we miss the spontaneity of "capturing the moment." The DSLR (if to hand) can certainly address that issue..

Of course, the ideal situation would be to have both... but financies dictate decisions..

Re specific cameras... you are right that this is well discussed elsewhere. I will ponder that in my own time and try out in the shops,..

Comment #11

Rent one and decide for yourself; that's what I did, and found that I did not need one; too big and heavy for my uses...

Comment #12

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