A few times now, members who are new to photography or new to DSLR's,
have asked for advice about which DSLR to purchase or in some cases
just what camera to purchase.
Often they ask 'I have a budget of $x,xxx' or 'should I get model A, B or C'.
Some of the advice given has been less than helpful; and in many cases very confusing.
Please be considerate when offering advice to inexperienced members.
Getting into a film v digital or camera format debate is NOT helpful to new members.
Also: Please respect the budget offered by the poster.
Our New to Photography forum already has good advice for the members
who are new to photography or new to DSLR's which can be summarised as:
- If you are on a low budget a P&S with manual controls is a good start
- If you want a DSLR there are excellent entry level bodies at affordable prices
- Consider the lenses more than the camera body to the point that a good lens
is a good idea even if it means getting a 2nd hand body
Note: The piece of advice to new 'togs that pops up from time to time is 'shoot manual' so you can learn the basics.
We do not recommend this approach primarily due to information overload and that there is no need with modern equipment.
Making the learning process as easy as possible means more people will be able to enjoy Photography!
Other advice that can be misleading and confusing is:
- suggesting film as an option when the member has specifically asked about DSLR.
While we fully support Film shooters; film is no longer mainstream and is less flexible than digital formats.
- suggesting other camera formats (Rangefinders etc. )
Again, DSLR's are the most versatile cameras available for general photography
especially for people who are new and have not decided to specialise.
- Arguing beyond the needs of a new photographer (eg. raw vs JPEG)
[hide][top]Why is a DSLR a good choice for most photographers?
Some reasons why we recommend DSLR's for people who want to get into Photography:
- Most versatile system for multi purpose photography
- Easy to use
- Easy to learn
- The vast majority of AP members use DSLR's as the primary camera, so getting advice and feedback is good
- Low running costs
- Easy image processing and publishing
- DSLR users include this sample of Genre's
- Journalists (I know the local Newscorp paper has a fleet of Nikon D3's)
- Magazine / fashion
- Product / still life
- Flora (plants)
- Underwater (dive)
- Law enforcement / forensics
[hide][top]Why not shoot manual at first?
Only use full manual when you have grasped all the basic concepts piece by piece.
Then use manual when needed.
I used to think going full manual was right, but I'd come from a film background where I had no choice.
From a teaching/learning perspective there is a better way.
Why? Learning Plan Details
The learning plan is designed to help members acquire the fundamentals of photography in a sensibly structured manner, one key element at a time.
This approach avoids information overload.
The learning plan is also very practical in that it asks those participating to post images and get feedback
(constructive critique a.k.a CC) whereby they can quickly improve their skills.
- We start with the camera in full auto (with fixed ISO sensitivity of 400, and JPEG mode) while learning to hold the camera and compose shots
- We then progress to Aperture Priority (with fixed ISO) while learning Depth of Field (DoF)
- We add Shutter Priority to the skils (with fixed ISO) while learning movement control
- Once the above are understood we process to changing ISO (100 thru 1600) using mainly Aperture Priority while learning about sensitivity and noise
- The participant is now ready to use full manual control of the Exposure Triangle (ISO sensitivity, Aperture, Shutter speed)
- We advance to control of white balance using raw mode instead of JPEG
- Finally we add other aspects such as flash, stabilisation (tripod) and other creative options
The above sequence provides a sound base to further explore the joy of photography.
All AusPhotography members can feel free to assist with the NTP process by commenting to NTP posts and providing CC to NTP participants.
[hide][top]Understanding DSLR vs RF
A Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera uses a mirror between the medium (film or digital) to reflect light into
the viewfinder via a penta-prism or other mirrors. This key feature lets the photographer focus and compose
the subject through the lens. When the shutter is released the mirror flips up out of the way of the film or sensor.
Rangefinder cameras mount the lens in front of the film or sensor. The RF viewfinder is mounted to the side.
RF use a different method of focusing as the photographer is not looking through the lens.
The name Rangefinder comes from the fact that they have a built-in rangefinder (dual views)...
this works out the distance to the subject overlaying two images until they appear clear.
So which is better? Note: Both types of camera predate the digital era.
RFs are typically smaller then SLRs as they do not require the space for mirror mechanism.
RFs have less lag due to not needing to move the mirror. However, digital RFs, and there are not many available,
are severely flawed. This in part is due to the fact that the technology hasn't been allowed to mature
compared to DSLRs (less brands, models and volume produced). Also the nature of digital has presented
its own technical issues for RFs.
DSLRs are a better choice for general photography and RFs have a limited niche capability.
Pluses for DSLRs
- Lower cost and more flexible
- Direct focusing control
- Precise framing
- Depth-of-field control
- What you see is what you get (through the lens)
- Almost unlimited lens/filter options, lots of lenses, many lenses, any focal length
- Ability to use tilt/shift, macro and very long lenses
Pluses for RFs
- Quiet and nearly vibration-free
- Very bright, aperture independent viewfinder
- Almost no shutter lag
Negatives for DSLRs
- Slightly larger
- Mirror slap vibration can affect slow shutter speeds
- Slightly more shutter lag
- Less bright viewfinder
Negatives for RFs
- More costly
- Telephoto lenses are typically limited to 135 mm or shorter, not suited to wildlife or sports
- Very awkward macro-photography – usually not possible
- Parallax errors esp. at close-up focusing
- Difficult depth-of-field control
- Focus control is indirect
- Polarisers cannot be used
Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lens cameras, or otherwise know as mirrorless interchangable lens cameras (MILC),
are relatively new format of camera, yet the already command a 40% share of the market in Japan. They offer many of the
advantages of an SLR or rangefinder camera, in a smaller package, and are superior to compact cameras in almost every way.
Generally the size of a large compact, the EVIL camera has no optical viewfinder (that offers a TTL view and/or focus confirmation),
and uses an LCD to disply the image as projected through the lens. Because there is no mirror in an EVIL camera, they can accommodate
an even wider range of lenses than an SLR, including normal lenses used by rangefinders, TLR's, and view cameras (providing the appropriate
lens mount adaptor is available). Because lens manufacturers do not have incorporate the retrofocus design that is required for
SLR lenses, EVIL camera lenses can be made smaller and lighter.
This versatily makes the EVIL camera a great choice as a second camera, without having to double up on lens types.
The small size of the EVIL camera makes them popular for people that want something more discrete and less intimidating
than an SLR. Their low weight and bulk, combined with their small lenses, often pancacke type, make them perfect for street
and travel photography.
The lack of an optical viewfiner has its disadvantages however, making focusing in dynamic situations difficult.
EVIL cameras us a different but slower autofocus system to most DSLR's, which also limits their performance.
Sensor size for EVIL cameras vary, but most common is the Micro 4/3rd sensor, and the APS-C sensor. As yet, a full sized EVIL
camera has not hit the market, however this is enevitable, and when the major companies such as Nikon and Canon start to produce
EVIL cameras, prices should fall, and more lenses should become available. If the current trend continues, EVIL cameras will become
the main format for amateur photographers.