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SLR or SLR-like for a beginner photographer
Hello, I am currently a student in college and I have been browsing cameras for quite some time now. I am enrolled in a photography class and am majoring in a design field. I have always loved photography and have always been interested in upgrading cameras to be able to take better quality photos..

The question that I am most troubled with is getting a DSLR or a SLR-Like camera? I guess I don't know the disadvantages and advantages to each? I am also wondering if there is a difference in performance, product quality, options, and range of use between the two versions?.

I get the feeling that with a SLR-like camera I would be limited in the photos I could take, and with the SLR I would not have the money necessary to buy lenses and such to fully use the SLR..

I have been focusing on Canon cameras; mainly the XT and XTi. Are these not a good base camera for someone in my position?.

I just don't want to spend a ton of money and find out I made the wrong purchase- ending up being disappointed. All suggestions, on anything, would be greatly appreciated!.

Is there anyway that I could gain a bunch of knowledge on photography? book?..

Comments (19)

Why is the Canon XTi less then the SLR-Like Canon PowerShot Pro1?..

Comment #1

I started with the Canon A80 upgraded to the Pro1 recently upgraded again to the XTi which has taken a long time to get used to, but Im getting there ( I think)..

Gemn2000 wrote:I am also wondering if there is a difference in.

Performance, product quality, options, and range of use between thetwo versions?.

Performance between the Pro 1 and XTi the XTi has a quicker start up time is faster to focus and works better in low light..

Product quality no difference my Pro1 has been dropped and landed in a lake and still goes on..

I get the feeling that with a SLR-like camera I would be limited inthe photos I could take,.

Not really, but it does depend on what type of photography your into. Sports, wildlife etc. the DSLR with a long lens would have to be the option. Landscapes, macros and normal day to day stuff then either will do equally well. The DSLR type cameras have a larger depth of field on the lower f numbers than the lenses on a DSLR. The smaller DOF on the DSLR does give the photographer more creativity in creating a shot..

And with the SLR I would not have the money.

Necessary to buy lenses and such to fully use the SLR..

This is the big problem. Good lenses are expensive sometime more so than the body itself. Depending on what type of photography you are going to be doing most of, then get a lens that is going to suit that purpose and fall into the trap of Lens Envy. Ive got a Sigma 17-70mm Macro and I will be using this for a while until I manage to sell some more pictures to be able to afford to buy a longer lens. It suits what I do..

I have been focusing on Canon cameras; mainly the XT and XTi. Arethese not a good base camera for someone in my position?.

Yes, but some will differ with me on that one..

Is there anyway that I could gain a bunch of knowledge onphotography? book?.

You may find some of the articles on this website of use, I did.http://www.luminous-landscape.com/columns/briots_view.shtml.

I cant tell you what to do with your hard earned cash but first ask your self what am I going to do with the camera. Whatever you eventually decide on learn to live with its limitations and also learn to love it because its you thats taking the pictures.A good workman doesnt blame his tools..

Http://www.pbase.com/carrhighlander..

Comment #2

This is a shot taken of me using the Pro1 earlier this year. The comment by John I think says it all. John had two cameras but I managed to hold my own with the Pro1. As mentiond it's how you use it!.

Http://www.pbase.com/ianyork/image/77319270.

Http://www.pbase.com/carrhighlander..

Comment #3

The question that I am most troubled with is getting a DSLR or a SLR-Like camera? I guess I don't know the disadvantages and advantages to each? I am also wondering if there is a difference in performance, product quality, options, and range of use between the two versions?.

P&S w/ DSLR-like control: PRO: portable, more control, cost, size, less to learn, huge DOF / CON: can't change lens, can't you external flash (usually), horrible optical viewfinders, no RAW.

DSLR: RAW, can change lens, optical viewfinder with focus points, larger senser, higher ISOs that can be used (HUGE difference), external flashes, thiner DOF / CON: larger, more to learn, optical viewfinder should be used 24/7 (liveview isn't meant to be on all the time), price,.

I get the feeling that with a SLR-like camera I would be limited in the photos I could take, and with the SLR I would not have the money necessary to buy lenses and such to fully use the SLR..

Yes, with an SLR-like camera, you wouldn't have lens choice, except for maybe teleconverters and wide angle converters..

I have been focusing on Canon cameras; mainly the XT and XTi. Are these not a good base camera for someone in my position?.

They are great cameras for your position! I would pick the XTi over the XT, just for the larger LCD, dust removal, and better look and feel..

I just don't want to spend a ton of money and find out I made the wrong purchase- ending up being disappointed. All suggestions, on anything, would be greatly appreciated!.

You could buy a "kit" to get started with. The out of the box lens with isn't pro quality, but it's cheap and not too bad. Don't be expected to get images that blow your mind - while it has more quality, it really depends on lens and ISO settings you use..

Have you tried test driving some cameras out? I've heard of people who have borrowed cameras o.

Is there anyway that I could gain a bunch of knowledge on photography? book?.

This website: http://www.canon.co.jp/imaging/enjoydslr/index.html , and The Digital Photography Book, and Understanding Exposure..

Comment #4

Gemn2000 wrote:.

The question that I am most troubled with is getting a DSLR or aSLR-Like camera? I guess I don't know the disadvantages andadvantages to each?.

DSLR cons.

- size/weight (especially when you factor in additional lenses and a whole heap of accessories)- cost (especially when you factor in... oh, I already said that .

DSLR pros- everything else.

Really, if you are serious about photography there is no other choice, but the cost is significantly higher..

I have been focusing on Canon cameras; mainly the XT and XTi. Arethese not a good base camera for someone in my position?.

It doesn't matter that you are a beginner - what matters is what you are going to be in six months time. Some people have no aspirations to be anything other than a snapshooter, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that - but it's a major factor in choosing the right camera so it's best to be honest with yourself about it. If you see this purchase as the beginning of of a more serious pastime and/or career, then a good entry-level DSLR is perfect - even if it's a bit of a stretch financially..

FWIW I would strongly recommend the XTi over the XT. I went through exactly the same decision myself (money is tight so I seriously considered the XT) but the XTi has so many advantages it's hard to know where to begin. But you've been reading the reviews so you'll have a list of them I'm sure..

Is there anyway that I could gain a bunch of knowledge onphotography? book?.

Everyone who has bought Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson (http://www.amazon.com/...41?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1191178225&sr=8-1) seems to rave about it. (Haven't read it myself, I did my learning a few years ago now.)..

Comment #5

Hi there.

It sounds like you have a problem deciding how you are going to use your camera ie: not sure how you will be using it and for what?! With a dslr ideally you should know exactly what type of shots you want or have a lot of cash to have all the possible lenses for every scenario..

I bought the panny fz50 as a bridge camera mainly due to it's 35-420 laica lens as well as it's rep....

Check out some pics from my photoblog...ifs it's not what you wanna do then maybe dslr is the way for you. What I can say is the panny has really taught me how to use a camera.

Happy hunting.

Liamhttp://coolpix.shutterchance.com/archive.php..

Comment #6

Well, I will be taking portraits and all different types of photos. I am also planing on taking the camera I buy to Europe and the Baltic states. Will a XTi, or any SLR, be to big to carry around while sight seeing?..

Comment #7

Gemn2000 wrote:.

Will a XTi, or any SLR, be to big to carry around while sightseeing?.

I commented earlier than one of the disadvantages of a DSLR is size, and I stand by that. But the XTi is one of the smaller DSLRs, and when I put mine alongside my old Fuji S602Zoom (a 'prosumer compact' in it's day) there is surprisingly little difference between the two bodies. The big difference is in the lenses - the 35-210 equivalent zoom on the Fuji is barely any bigger than my 50mm prime..

But your question was is it *too* big. Nobody can answer that for you, you need to get hold of some of these cameras and decide for yourself...

Comment #8

Hi,.

I've read your first post several times and I have to say I'm baffled. The problem is that sometimes I think you already have a camera and use it and at other times I don't. So I am wondering how to tackle the answer. In the end I decided to cover my back..

If you have a camera you might be frustrated by it and suspect it's something to do with your experience? You talk about upgrading and so I could, perhaps, assume you've a P&S? Well, there's not much wrong with P&S's and they are handy little things. They can be frustrating at times but what frustrates you about them will answer your question about what to get next. (For example, if you continually need a 300 mm lens with f/2 at best, then a dSLR is on the cards.).

Also they (P&S's) have one huge advantage in that they are always ready to use in seconds, simply because they are simpler and also (important for a tourist camera) because you can carry them around with you all the time. Unlike a dSLR which would need a few lenses and a trolley to carry them: I'm thinking in terms of a standard sort of zoom, a tele zoom, a macro lens and a couple of primes to cover areas where the zooms will be wanting in some way. Then there's the flash guns, the tripod and the spare body, media cards spare batteries, charger for use abroad, file storage and so on. Little wonder that people with dSLR's and only a small kit also have a P&S and a more serious but not so large and heavy camera for travel..

Now you also talk about money, I can remember when I was at college and having to chose between the course demands and eating so I wonder if this is your problem? In which case I'll suggest several lines of action..

The first is obvious, wait until you are in class with others and borrow their cameras and talk about them and so on. Other people's experience is the cheapest. And, if you have a P&S take it along and use it. You'll be best positioned to learn what you can and can't do with it and may not need a new camera. Also, it will be a challenge to outperform the rich kids with two Leicas and no idea how to use them either... You could even suggest a camera exchange for the day to let them show what they can do with it.

I doubt if you'll need much to start with..

Now, if you haven't a camera, I'd suggest something like a P&S with manual controls or else with EV compensation. The latter is cheapest but needs a bit more experience of the camera. The trick with all cameras is to know their limitations and how to work round them. You learn this by looking at the good ones and the dreadful failures and thinking about what the EXIF reveals. The dreadful failures are the most useful learning tool imaginable, provided you have a few friends or a class teacher to discus things with..

Don't even think about a dSLR at this stage or something in between. They all have their problems and limitations. Imagine how you can take a picture with the lens wide open at the tele end of a SLR-like and then check to see what wide open means on a big zoom (usually f/5 or even f/8). Or course you can buy SLR's with f/2 lenses on the tele end or else a prime but just look at the price of them. And dSLR's start heavy and get heavier and heavier as the day progresses. Now imagine you're in Europe and have one round your neck with the lens you need at the bottom of the bag, shopping in a bag and luggage; and you need to get you wallet/passport out and you see the perfect picture.

But a small P&S can be whipped out, clicked and there's no more to it than that. Especially these days, with auto-everything you need and a lot you'll never need (like menu's with "Food" modes; face recognition and so on: you learn face recognition by kissing girls - a useful art to master at college or long before... ).

BTW, I know you asked about the differences in performance of various cameras but they all differ and not one of them is perfect. More important is the fact that no two photographers can agree about what is perfect - which explains why the reviews go into so much detail and confuse people. Most can be mastered - that means beaten into doing what you want but there's no general answer. I've grabbed pictures using my wife's 3 megapixel P&S and had them published and I'm just as pleased with the pictures I took with (what you'd see as primitive) equipment: although it was state of the art in the 60's. And last year's state of the art cameras (big, heavy and expensive or small, fiddly and expensive) have turned out some brilliant pictures as well as some horrors I've kept very quiet about..

You also mentioned portraits, any camera will take them but it's easiest if you can zoom out to 85 or 90 mm (in 35 mm film terms) and then you don't get ears or noses distorted. White balance is also important and those silly little pop-up flashes can be used as a fill-in light. Getting the sitter to relax and behave normally is 90% of portraiture..

Any book on photographer issued in the last sixty years will help gain knowledge. Just ignore the bits about film - although they'll give you a lot of useful background..

The important thing to remember is that photography is mostly about seeing the picture and then getting it into the camera. Most of the time a P&S with some form of over-rides will do the trick. For travel and portraits I'd make that figure 99% of the time. (Have a look at something like the Pentax A20 or the Panasonic F30, btw.).

Hope this is some help..

Regards, David..

Comment #9

Good post. The subject line was superseded in 1971 but the advice is still good ..

Comment #10

I would actually look at the K100D. It is a more of a seriious amatuer camera than entry level and is at a very good price right now. Beware, you may get LBA!.

I only have a dozen lenses but only need a "few" more. ..

Comment #11

If I bought a SLR would I have to buy multiple lenses to capture the versiatility of a lens on a camera like a G9 or another high-end P&S? What about with Zoom and Macro?..

Comment #12

Gemn2000 wrote:.

If I bought a SLR would I have to buy multiple lenses....

No..

... to capture theversatility of a lens on a camera like a G9 or another high-end P&S?.

Yes and no..

The design philosophies are completely different. An SLR has interchangeable lenses so that each lens can be optimised to do it's particular job as well as possible; compacts have to make do with one lens to do everything, and the aim therefore has to be versatility..

But the G9 has a 35-210 equivalent lens. Because of the crop factor on the XTi, you need to divide that by 1.6 to find a lens with a similar field of view at each end of the zoom range, which gives us 22-131. The nearest to that which you can actually buy is the Sigma 18-125 DC - not an especially highly-regarded lens but the point is you can buy one, and they are not expensive. The Sigma 17-70 DC is not as long at the zoom end but is a *much* better lens..

So yes, you can get the versatility of a P&S in a DSLR with one lens. But if you want to make the most of the huge leap in image quality that an SLR brings, one lens is not really the way to go. Of course, you could buy a one-lens solution now and upgrade later..

What about with Zoom and Macro?.

Zoom I've already answered. Macro is more complicated. Compacts with their small sensors have an inbuilt advantage for macro - they have inherently more depth of field. Also they can more easily be held in awkward positions, and the LCD screen can be more convenient than struggling to get your eye to an SLR viewfinder. But for quality a DSLR is still the ultimate choice, with a true macro lens if you can afford it. Also the working distance is *much* greater with an SLR, and that is a big practical advantage..

The prime (single focal length) macro lenses are by far the best quality; the zoom macros are ok - another compromise. Or you can buy extension tubes, or close up lenses that screw on the front like a filter - the usual SLR situation, the answer to everything is yes, but it'll cost more. But you don't have to do everything at once, of course..

The Sigma 17-70 I mentioned above is, for a zoom macro, pretty good. Macro performance is measured not by focusing distance but by magnification, and the 17-70 manages 1:2.3 which is excellent...

Comment #13

But - a big "but" - what's the point of buying a dSLR and just one lens? Surely you buy a dSLR for the exact reason that you can fit whatever lens is needed. And don't forget how difficult it will be to buy a body only (usually dearer and probably cheaper to buy one with the kit lens and throw the kit lens away). And these one lens solutions for dSLR's tend to be either horribly expensive or else, well, why not buy a Panasonic FZ50? Not all dSLR's are superior to cameras with fixed lenses..

And if you ever want macro, that's usually another lens to carry around..

BTW, on holiday a dSLR can be a real pain; especially if you want to go out for a drink in the evening and take a few photographs. And after a few European strength beers it could be impossible... (And a lot of American students in Europe discover that they can drink at a much younger age (like 16 in some countries) and the shock and sudden exposure to real ale can be hard to handle. And will the dSLR still be there when you wake up the next morning and wonder how to get back to your hotel?).

Regards, David..

Comment #14

What about the Sony DSC R1? It's got a similar sized sensor to DSLRs and a sharp 24-120 lens - according to reviewers it would take a lot of money to get the equivalent quality and focal length with a DSLR. I have the 350d (I use telephoto a lot) but if I was wanting the best quality for the best price, and I didn't have a need to use long focal lengths, I would choose the R1...

Comment #15

David Hughes wrote:.

But - a big "but" - what's the point of buying a dSLR and just onelens? Surely you buy a dSLR for the exact reason that you can fitwhatever lens is needed..

That's not a "but" - because I said the same thing in my opening paragraph. Then I went on to concede that many people will in fact want to buy a DSLR with a single lens and you do still get some of the benefits - a 400D with a Sigma 17-70 will blow any compact out of the water for image quality. Plus you get the potential to buy further lenses later, as funds allow and as you build up your knowledge and experience..

I'm not saying a DSLR is for everyone, but the mere fact of wanting a single lens doesn't rule it out. Let's not forget that the all-singing-all-dancing superzoom bridge cameras also can't do everything - they can't do macro at a sensible working distance, they can't do narrow depth of field, they can't do ISO 1600 unless you like the sandpaper effect, they can't achieve the detail needed for big landscapes, they are very difficult to manual focus..

And don't forget how difficult it will be tobuy a body only (usually dearer and probably cheaper to buy one withthe kit lens and throw the kit lens away)..

That hasn't actually been my experience. Yes you get odd discrepancies but overall there is almost always a very good body-only price to be had if you shop around. The one exception, perhaps, is when bodies are sold off cheap as a kit towards the end of their life - in which case they are a bargain so who's complaining!.

And these one lenssolutions for dSLR's tend to be either horribly expensive or else,well, why not buy a Panasonic FZ50?.

Well, for all the reasons we've discussed..

Not all dSLR's are superior tocameras with fixed lenses..

We'd just be going round in circles if I answer that..

And if you ever want macro, that's usually another lens to carry around..

True macro yes. But I would rather have the 17-70's 1:2.3 than a P&S with a working distance of 1 cm any day..

BTW, on holiday a dSLR can be a real pain;.

Now there, on the other hand, I totally agree. Too big and heavy, too much stress worrying about whether it will get lost or stolen, too much of a distraction from the real reason for being there..

But you can't win. I've taken my (D)SLRs on holiday and cursed them for all the above reasons. And I've gone with just a compact and been frustrated and disappointed with the results...

Comment #16

Ideally get a basic DSLR with the basic 18-55 or if possible the 18-55 and the 55-200 kit lenses. These cover the ranges you will need and the kit lenses are quite good..

I would, no surprise, point you towards a Pentax K100D, without actually knocking the other brands - basically all the entry level DSLRs have advantages and disadvantages over each other, The K100D ticks the boxes I lean towards..

Don't think that you cannot produce good results with a non-DSLR. It's simply that a DSLR does offer more potential and better all-round performance. Proper high ISO and low noise are also benefits. That said I still find my Fuji S5200/5600 quite effective and I imagine you might find something like the Fuji S6500 quite good..

However any DSLR with kit lenses will outclass any P&S, assuming you learn to use it properly. It's like saying a Ferrari will outclass any family car - but only if you learn to use it properly..

Look upon a DSLR as an investment that you can add to over time. Adding your own learned knowledge is the best way to enhance your investment..

I would be cautious about the Canon G9. No-one has seen one yet and it could be a lemon for all anyone knows. Wait until you see it reviewed properly. Personally I hope it's all we hope for, but it is not going to be a DSLR beater, just, we hope, a very good P&S..

StephenG.

Pentax K100DFuji S5200Fuji E900PCLinuxOS..

Comment #17

Steve Balcombe wrote:.

David Hughes wrote:.

- - - Snip, Snip, Snip - - -.

I won't argue as, clearly, my experience has been different and my "perfect" outfit is probably nothing like your perfect outfit. In the end I settled on a pair of cameras to do the tricks I want..

BTW, on holiday a dSLR can be a real pain;.

Now there, on the other hand, I totally agree. Too big and heavy, toomuch stress worrying about whether it will get lost or stolen, toomuch of a distraction from the real reason for being there..

But you can't win. I've taken my (D)SLRs on holiday and cursed themfor all the above reasons. And I've gone with just a compact and beenfrustrated and disappointed with the results..

For what it's worth, I now take the Leica Digilux 2 and my wife takes a little Olympus P&S. The Leica spends a lot of it's time in the safe in the hotel room or the one in reception and the key hangs round my neck on a chain. Between the two of us we manage and drunken shots of other drunks were not what the Leica was designed for but the lens (f/2 to f/24 over the entire range means silky smooth ISO 100 can be used and it reminds me of the M2 and two lenses classic travel outfit and you get to chat a lot with the young ladies at reception)..

If only the Panasonic LX2 was redesigned by Leica for their version as not so fiddly and small and with an optical viewfinder (and an aspect ratio on the switch for A4 and A3 paper... )..

Regards, David..

Comment #18

David Hughes wrote:.

I won't argue as, clearly, my experience has been different and my"perfect" outfit is probably nothing like your perfect outfit..

Yep, that's only to be expected...

Comment #19

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