Do I really need a DSLR?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by ZPWeeks, Jan 7, 2007.

  1. ZPWeeks

    ZPWeeks TPF Noob!

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    Hi, all- this looks like an impressive forum. :thumbup:

    I would classify my photography as on the "smalltime hobbyist" level of involvement- I love taking or viewing beautiful photos, and if I had another couple of lives to live, I would probably spend one getting more involved with photography. But I don't, so I probably won't become a photo guru anytime soon.

    I've gone through a few mid-line point-and-shoot customer models, and right now I'm moderately happy with my Kodak EasyShare LS753. It gets great color and lets me make basic adjustments (exposure levels, white balance, ISO). But if I put it in any awkward lighting, the whole thing turns out like crap. I go to a lot of concerts, and usually I might take away two shots from the show that don't completely suck.

    There are two things I'm looking for: more manual control, and just higher overall picture quality. I'm considering springing the $500-600 for a Nikon D40 or a Canon Digital Rebel XT or XTi, but since I don't plan on becoming a serious photo hobbyist, I'm wondering if it would really be necessary. Would a high-end point-and-shoot camera be sufficient for what I want?

    I have a couple of friends who are photography students, and they're all telling me to go with DSLR. I think they may be biased, though, since they do spend a lot of their time taking photos. What do all of you think?
     
  2. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I myself am STRONGLY biased towards SLR cameras ... but p&s have really improved. And if I do not want to print really large, and do not want ultra wide angle, a good high end p&s will serve you well.

    as for the concerts, there of course you have poor light, which is not a strong point of p&s ... but why not try investing in noise reduction software instead of a DSLR?

    DSLRs are long term money drains, only buy one if you really need it ... that means if your creativity is limited by the p&s or if you need large prints.
     
  3. simonkit

    simonkit TPF Noob!

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    Hi,

    It's a difficult question for anyone but you to answer but in an effort to help there are a few "knowns" about the often talked about DSLR vs P&S/Prosumer debate

    First - you need to decide what you'll be doing with the camera - landscapes, low-light, sports, portraits ete etc. This will help in your decision

    As for the Pros & cons of DSLR/Prosumers here are a few of them to consider - I'm sure others will add to the list

    ******
    Low light photography - DSLR really the best option, only P&S that comes close is a Fuji f30 (& its familiy !!) although still not up to DSLR standards
    ******
    Fast action / sports photography - again a DSLR is the best option
    ******
    Landscape photography - this is where things are a little closer, a DSLR is ceratinly not essential & several P&S/Prosumers produce excellent landscape photographs
    ******
    Portraits - again this seems to be favoured by a DSLR although P&S/Prosumer produce very good results too

    Don't forget too a P&S can go anywhere in your pocket, a DSLR cannot. A DSLR can change lenses for more range, wider viewing angles, a P&S cannot. A DSLR has a greater learning curve than a P&S and to get the full benefit from the camera really needs a little knowledge.

    These are just a few of the things I've picked up along the way, I'm no expert myself & others may refute some of this info. As the saying goes "always do your own research" before spending your hard earned cash !!
     
  4. cosmonaut

    cosmonaut No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It really depends on what YOU want. The prices of DSLRs have dropped lately. You can get the Nikon D50 for less than 600.00 easy. The Olympus E500 runs right around 600 and comes with two very nice lenses. I bought one and am really happy. DSLR's are more complicated than a P&S and there is a learning curve to using one. You will need to know about exposure, DOF, white balance ect, ect before you can explore what they will do. But you will also get professional results and amaze your friends. DSLR's will also hold there value more than a P&S.
    Cosmo
     
  5. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Probably none of us need a dSLR, except when it's a job requirement. But a DSLR can give you much greater flexibility and control. Used properly and with the right lens, flash etc, it can do a better job than a compact model, and it can take some shots in some conditions that would simply be impossible with a compact. But do you need it? Only if you (not your friends or anyone else) find your current equipment really lacking or constraining you, and see genuine benefits to owning a dSLR that would justify the expenditure.

    I didn't need a DSLR, but I wanted one, bought one and consider it a good investment. But it gets a lot of use. You said that you "don't plan on becoming a serious photo hobbyist". In which case it sounds like you'd be spending a lot of money on something that wouldn't be used all that often. Bear in mind that you will need to spend more than that $500-600, not only on software and storage but most importantly on lenses. Low-light photography of the kind you describe is going to be best served with a fast prime lens, which will set you back another $100 or so. If you stick with the kit lens you probably won't see a huge improvement over your current compact in terms of what you can do handheld in low light.

    If you're comfortable spending the money then sure, a digital SLR is a very nice thing to have. But I'm not talking about $500-600; I'd budget for a bare minimum of $750. That's just to start with. Bear in mind that the point of an interchangeable-lens SLR is that you're buying into a system, for which you will probably buy other lenses, flashes or other accessories that will cost yet more money. These however will hold their value better than the camera itself, and a lot better than a compact digital. An SLR is only the beginning of an investment in a system. If you don't think you'd be spending the extra money to explore the possibilities of such a system, or if it sounds like a lot of money to spend on something that won't be used all that much (and it is a lot of money) then it probably isn't worth it.

    Having said all that, low-light concert photography... will a compact model be sufficient? Almost certainly not. Not without flash, tripod or high ISO. Good performance at high ISO levels is pretty much impossible with current compact models with their small sensors. My usual suggestion here, and it may not be popular, is that if a digital SLR is too expensive, consider a film SLR instead. A good film SLR and fast lens can be had for much less than your current compact model cost, and the results possible with a fast lens and high-ISO film will put a digital compact to shame.
     
  6. Aetos

    Aetos TPF Noob!

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    Why not look into something like the higher-end of the Panasonic Lumix series? (I'm thinking DMC FZ5 and up.) They've got 12X zoom, manual control, hot-shoes... But they can also be used in much the same way as a point and shoot. There are cons: a fixed lens, more weight and bulk than a p&s; but the pros are pretty good.
     
  7. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    You would love the low light ability of a Canon DSLR. It's significantly better than any current point-n-shoot. I don't know much about the camera you are using, but it wouldn't surprise me if a Canon XT or XTi does better at ISO 1600 than your PNS does at ISO 400. I think my Canon 20D does the same or better at ISO 1600 than professional 35mm film at ISO 400.
     

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