To DSLR, Or Not To DSLR?

In the last few weeks, i’ve been really keen on getting my own digital SLR camera. SLR stands for Single Lense Reflex… basically these are the cameras that allow you change lenses on the body of the camera, depending on the type of photography you want to do.

These are the kinds of cameras that all the professionals use. See, there are many types of  end user cameras available. The most popular being the ultra compacts… which are your general finepix, powershot, etc type cameras.

So why a DSLR? well… im a little fed up with the little 6 megapixel ultra compact i have. The shots just arent that great, no matter what you do. Its quite common these days for people to replace these digital cameras, nearly as fast as cellphones. Sure, the technical specs sound awesome, and you’d think that 6MP would be good enough for anything, but dont let the numbers fool you, because it just isnt. And before you know it, you’re out there, looking for something to replace it, perhaps a 10MP ultra compact would be better?

I originally had a little 2MP fujifilm camera, which frankly couldnt do much when ambient lighting became scarce…. so on a trip to South Africa, i came across a Kodak 6MP. Thinking that this was the most amazing camera i’ve ever seen, decided this camera was the answer. Initially, the pics that were taken looked AWESOME!! what i didnt realise, was that these pictures were all taken during the day, so naturally, they looked great. However, again, as the daylight faded away, these pictures got worse and worse, even with the flash running on “super high”.

Then i tried taking some pictures to post up on this blog, and just got completely frustrated with the results. I needed a new camera, again.

This time however i didnt want to take a chance again on buying something that wouldnt last…. so i started doing some research on what the perfect camera is. And then i came across the magic words ‘SLR’.  That just changed everything, and the more i googled about these cameras, the clearer the answer became. Original SLR’s are what the professional photographers used back in the day.. for the kind of magazines like national geographic. These SLR cameras used film. Nowdays theres the DSLR, which is the digital version.. that use memory cards for storage.

I was thinking, okay maybe i could save up a couple of hundred bucks extra, then buy a decent camera…. until i saw the price of these DSLR’s. Lets just say that you could be shelling out over a US$1500 for a decent one without any lenses bundled in. However, the lenses can be bought and upgraded seperately, for specialist photography, or just generally to get a ‘better picture’.

It was quite a shock to see how expensive these things are, the prices just seemed insane. But i somehow managed to narrow my options down to 2 specific cameras. The Nikon D3000 and the Canon 1000D. These beauties are considered entry level DSLR’s, and have most of the functions of the more expensive models in the range, however are slightly handicapped. Im no pro, so even a basic DSLR would do wonders for me. In Zimbabwe, these cameras are readily available (surprise surprise). The 1000D is being sold for a cool US$1200, and comes with a standard 18-55mm lense. The D3000 is slightly cheaper at $946, and also comes with an 18-55mm lense.

FYI, a 18-55mm lense is your basic lense used for nearly everything, from portraits to landscapes. They kind of resemble the fixed lenses that you get on ultra compacts. They’re an ‘all in one solution’. However, their limitations are quite obvious as time passes. Believe me when i say that there are enough SLR/DSLR lenses out there, to make you dizzy and pass out. Its unbelievable how much range there is, so you really have to know what it is that you want, otherwise you’ll end up being severely dazzled. So, research on lenses is critical when considering an SLR type camera.

Luckily, i have friends who know about these type of cameras, so i was given a basic explanation of what to look out for when considering a DSLR camera.

The great news is that today i managed to get my own DSLR. Its a second hand one, so I didnt end up paying a ridiculous price. The camera i have is the Canon 350D, which is a couple of years old now, however is rated as a midrange camera in the Canon line-up. Previously it had belonged to a person who was really keen on photography, so it came with all the bells and whistles. I was surprised to find that it had the 18-55mm lense, as well as a telescopic 70-300mm lense! The 70-300 lense lets you zoom into distant things, as though you were taking the pic from a couple of inches away. Amazing stuff! So i am very grateful for that.

I only had to sit and shoot arb things for a few minutes, to instantly know that this is the camera i’ve been waiting for. I still cant believe just what a difference in quality this camera has over its ultra compact counterpart. UNBELIEVABLE!!! You immediately realise that this camera is built to take pictures perfectly. And if you’re really good and creative with photography, you can tweak the camera in all sorts of technical ways, to get the exact shot that you want…in the exact style that you want it in.

The moral of the story is that smaller compact digital cameras just dont produce the goods. Dont let the MegaPixel numbers fool you either. Technically, yes, they can accomodate alot of pixels, but its what it puts into those pixels that count.

I’ve finally found the perfect camera, which will allow me to develop the photographic artist in me.

To DSLR, or not to DSLR?? Definitely DSLR!!!

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