Would you recommend a dSLR to a beginner?
Hey there. I'm starting to get fed up with my current 3 meg camera, as it takes terrible nightshots and has inaccurate colors at times. So I'm looking for a new camera. However, after reading many reviews, it seems like ONLY dSLR can take perfect pictures. Other cameras always seem to have other glaring problems noise, fringing, etc. And I also read somewhere that dSLR's are the only digital camera worth buying.

Yet I don't know how to use a histogram, white balance control, lens swapping, and would basically just be buying a dSLR for the quality pictures, not for the controls. I also love zoom, something dSLR's don't seem to have. So in the past week, I've been torn between the Minolta Z3 w/ 12x zoom and the Canon EOS 20D. Pretty weird, huh? So, do you recommend dSLR's to a beginner like me? Do you still need to know how to work the controls on a dSLR to achieve good pictures?..

Comments (7)

Kevin Digital slr cameras are NOT a guarantee of perfect pictures anymore than lower consumer grade cameras are all going to take poor images.

You dont say waht model you are carrying. We use Canon A70, A80's and a Nikon 5700 in our media group for general stuff and they work fine. The camera is a tool. You need to understand it's operation to get decent results. You cant just ignore the controls and simply put it on auto and get good images consistently. Well OK you may hit a lucky streak but variations in light and shade can fool the imaging sensors and the great shot, is in fact rubbish.

I got back from 8 days bacpacking with my d1x and the light was all over the map, which left me bracketing exposures and using manual controls a lot of the time. I had more than a few images with noise and fringing etc. (I dont know where you read dlsr's dont have zoom. I normally carry five lenses 3 of which are zoom.) Night shooting is one area where a dslr's have a bit of a problem since you can't mount it on a pod and leave the lens open for long exposure like a film slr. Noise builds on the sensor and all you get is a very grainy image.

I would suggest that you look into a consumer grade "prosumer" model.

And get the feel of it before going into a higher end model. As well, you say your pictures have color problems. This "may" be simple white balance adjustment. I have taken many pics with wrong white balance setting. Post processing on a pc can fix this. And as someone else on this site noted a while back, underexposure is preferable (I think the writer described it as a killer app).

As for suggesting a specific model Im sure there are others who can give you all kinds of ideas. This site has writeups. In any case whatever you get, the camera won't do the work. Try out a few on rent if you can and get comfortable with how the camera feels in your hands as well as the functions and features. tim.

Comment #1

Thanks for taking the time to write that, Tim! The information you posted was really helpful. For example, I didn't know that dSLR's use additional lenses sold separately [that's why I always wondered why "zoom" is left blank in the specs]. Checking prices, it looks like an additional $5000 for a decent set, which pushes the camera way beyond my budget. I think what I was looking for was a dSLR point-and-shoot, which I guess would be a prosumer camera. I think I'll start doing more research in that area. I was really envious of those pics Dave took with his dSLR, they look so beautiful and clean but I also enjoy post-processing in Paintshop so I guess the picture doesn't have to be perfect.

I got interested in dSLR's when Dave wrote: "The EOS-1D sees better than you do" That's the kinda nighttime performance I like. Otherwise, it's difficult to postprocess bad night shots. I'm starting to play around with white balance now, though I think my camera really does have some inaccurate color. A few reviewers mentioned that it makes green look like astroturf, which looks to be true. Anyway, thanks again for the info, Tim!..

Comment #2

Theorectically, dSLR should have a better picture quality. One of the many reasons is that the sensor size of a dSLR is usually larger.

Partly becasue the physical size of the body is larger than the Point and shoot digital or compact digital cameras. The larger the sensor size, the larger dynamic range it has. That means the camera can be more accurately capture what it's in front of it. You should also comparing other features, CCD technology, Lense quality, product support and price before you decide what to go for...

Personally, I love the 20D's numbers.....

Comment #3

Kevin if you read this check out a prog called imager stacker for night work. It is cheap and the idea is to take several short exposures 5 or six of 8 seconds or so and the prg sums average the results and the result is good. Check the site or my own website where some of my night images are done with time exposure while others are done with IS and it's hard to tell the difference. tim..

Comment #4

Yes, DSLR's is the way to go if you want good night images because their larger sensors has less noise than the consumer digicams and also less noise than the popular prosumer 8Mb cams... A typical DSLR has low noise up to 800 ISO, a typical consumer digicam is almost unusable at higher ISO than 200... Higher ISO means a faster shutter speed for night shots (but you can take exposures up to 30sec at low ISO if you want too). Canon EOS 300D, Nikon D70 and Pentax just announced *ist DS is the current choices for beginners. Pentax has many interresting picture modes, also an automatic picture mode (more clever than standard program mode than in the others). It may be just your thing...

You don't need to use a histogram if you don't want too. It's usable to get a feeling for the contrast in the image. Swapping lenses is not a problem. DSLR's has zoom, it depends on the lens. Sigma 18-125 gives a long range (about 6x - 7x zoom if you compare with a digicam) and it's available for most DSLR brands.

More suitable for landscape than traditional consumer digicams). The little complicated thingie with DSLR's is that best result is obtained with the RAW file format, this format needs to be converted in a computer with special software. With this software you can adjust things like exposure, white balance and colour saturation, to make a perfect photo if the cam didn't maked it right. But you have option to use JPG if you want too, the images can't be postprocessed with the same high quality as RAW files, but they're much easier to handle for a novice. And if you are not in the mood for postprocessing, then they might be the format to choose.

The camera has an auto-bracketing feature (it automatically takes three shots with different exposure settings and then you can review them to see which one you like the most). If you want to learn more, you can do it but you don't have to. It's quite a good start IMHO...

Comment #5

Thanks for the additional info, everyone! I'm going to look into my camera to see if there's an exposure setting available, but a compact point-and-shoot camera like mine probably doesn't support this. Still, I'm guess exposures would require a tripod, but I prefer taking instant snapshots while holding the camera. I'll look at sensor size from now on, too, but probably nothing further than prosumer. I think I've given up on DSL for now; I just don't really like the idea of lugging all those lenses with me and changing them depending on the shot. Just something that can fit in a jacket pocket or my backpack. But yeah, those DSL zoom lenses are pretty sweet I especially like Canon's nearly 50x super telezoom lens.

Excellent work!..

Comment #6

Please send me a password so I may be a member of the Imaging Resource forum. Thank You..

Comment #7

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