I said I was going to do this for some time now. I am starting a new series of posts dealing with photography and everything related to it. First, let me make a few statements and a disclaimer.
I am NOT a professional photographer and don’t pretend to know much of anything (I realize that may discredit everything I said henceforth, but I don’t want to mislead you). However, what I do know, I would like to share with others in hopes that it might fuel good discussion and maybe assist others who want to develop their own photography style. So if you stumble upon this post expecting to hear from someone who graduated with a photography degree in some elite school, I am sorry, but I am not your man. But if you want to talk photography from someone who is learning along with you, then by all means, let’s talk.
This post is dedicated to the topic about my belief that, if you can, you should go D-SLR. Before I got into photography last year, my only cameras were disposable. I had no education or photography experience whatsoever. My first camera was a Canon 20D which I chose after spending about two months educating myself on what I figured would be the best buy and would challenge me in creativity, technique, and personal style. As a dedicated (or so I like to think) student at school, I needed a release and hobby to take my mind off things, so I chose photography to be that outlet. Since the purchase of my camera last year, I have taken about 15,000 images which have included around 15 weddings and numerous other occasions. Needless to say, I am really enjoying my new hobby.
So what is a D-SLR anyway?
Well, SLR stands for “single lens reflex” which means there is a mirror behind the lens which reflects light coming into the camera. As the shutter button is pressed, the mirror lifts up out of the way to allow light to be read by the camera sensor. Traditionally, the light is read on film, but in the digital world, the light is read on a CCD or CMOS sensor. One of the features of some D-SLR’s is “mirror lock-up” which locks the mirror and removes and possible shake which comes when clicking the shutter button (you have to press the shutter button twice to capture the image).
In a very short and simple fashion, let me share four reasons why I believe you should go for a D-SLR camera if you are in the photography world:
Two things I want to point out here. First, if you buy a point-and-shoot camera that is a real budget saver, you might get everything you want. BUT, if you love taking great photos and want to be challenged to do more, you will quickly be disappointed and wish you had purchased a SLR camera. Therefore, it may end up being more expensive going the cheaper route first and attempting to upgrade later. Going D-SLR first gives you ample opportunity to expand and grow in your photography skills. Imagine getting a PC that only offers USB 1.1, Pentium 2 processor, 4 GB memory, and only a floppy drive. Sure, it will do some functions and save a lot of money, but you are limited because of its capabilities and will end up spending a bunch of money later buying more hard drive, memory, external CD/DVD roms, etc. Get the point?
Now, the good thing is that D-SLR’s have become really affordable in recent years (especially compared to the past). For instance, one can enter in the D-SLR world by purchasing a body for under $500. This is truly remarkable, especially that the newer, high end point-and-shoot cameras are already exceeding that price. Bottom line: more people are being able to consider D-SLR’s because of the affordable and reasonable prices available today. If you are already wanting a nice digital camera and willing to spend a couple hundred dollars, why not save a little more, do yourself a favor, and get a camera with many more functions and capabilities that a regular point-and-shoot camera can offer? That’s my second point.
Having a D-SLR allows you to do many more functions than a normal camera. For instance, you are able to manually control the settings including your ISO speed, aperture, and shutter speed. You can prefer shutter priority (Tv) or aperture priority (Av) settings or go totally manual (which I shoot only). Furthermore, there are many other, more advanced functions on the camera settings such as select focus, white balance bracketing, card formatting, long exposure noise reduction, mirror lock up, shutter curtain synchronization, and ISO expansion just to name a few. In addition, you can customize your camera buttons as well (for instance, I have one button to focus and another for exposure). As you can see, these functions and options are simply not available on your normal camera, and the fraction increase of cost will open the door for you to explore all these and more.
This is probably the greatest benefit for owning a D-SLR camera. Anyone who knows me knows that I cannot draw. I do not have an artistic bone in my body. However, having a D-SLR camera, my creative juices are allowed to flow as I envision what I want to shoot. For instance, the BULB option allows you to do a myriad of things. BULB is the shutter speed manually operated after the 30 second exposure reading. This allows you to shoot long (really long) exposures which open you to the world of night photography. If you want to play with light, you can grab a flashlight and paint graffiti on a wall or tree for fun. On the other end of shutter creativity, you can speed up the shutter to capture things in mid-air, such as a spilled glass or the splash of a waterfall. Were I to mention all the creative options available in the D-SLR world, you would think I am Gene Bridges working on my next dissertation!
Finally, D-SLR’s offers incredible versatility. For example, the best and most versatile feature of D-SLR’s is the option of interchangeable lenses. Over a long period of time, you can have a multiple lens set-up which includes telephoto, wide-angle, prime, macro, and even fish-eye lenses. Also, some lenses shoot faster than others which give you the advantage of shooting in low light without compromising clarity and getting too much noise (shooting at high ISO speeds). In addition, great depth-of-field can be achieved (when working with aperture), and if one is using zoom, multiple options are available (such as spinning or zooming while exposing). Other versatile features include the many accessories that allow for even greater fun, such as external flash, vertical battery grip, lens filters, wired remotes, and offshoe cords for external flash. Finally, with the purchase of some D-SLR cameras, digital editing software is included in the package which can assist you in post-production.
As you can see, I believe there are many reasons why going D-SLR is worth your consideration. If you take photos but don’t consider photography as a hobby or interest, it may be best that you NOT go the D-SLR route. But if you do love photography, have a desire to push your creative juices, and willing to make the investment, then what are you waiting for? In my next post, I will give two examples (Canon and Nikon) how one can have a complete D-SLR set-up for under $1400. I know that sounds rather expensive, but this idea would be laughed at in years past. For those of you hoping to hope into the D-SLR world, maybe this might be a little help.