Do I want a DSLR?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by frascati, Feb 11, 2010.

  1. frascati

    frascati TPF Noob!

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    May I just throw out a few objectives and ask for advice?
    Forgive me for the bulk of this post. It may seem that I've arrived here without doing any research. But actually I've tried recently to get up to speed.

    I did a fair amount of travel photograpy years ago (the film age) in the military and in college. A little bit of experimentation with common filmstocks and filters and basic darkroom tech. Then a decade lapsed where I never touched a camera.

    Come 2002 I bought a 1.5mpxl pentax compact to post images on the web and for very basic business use.. images of equipment, electronics, real estate. Just auto mode, very basic use. I've all but forgotten my fundamentals. Last year I got a Samsung SL420 10mpxl compact. Nicer images. Seems well built.

    I very recently got the 'bug' again to have a little more fun with this. But I don't want to reengage in the hobby too fully. I have a tendancy to go overboard and don't have the time or money right now. But digital photograpy has made a mince of what an 'old school' hobbyist like myself used to understand.

    I don't wish to get highly technical with my gear, but I place a very high premium on attaining extrememly high image resolution when needed. I have a good enough understanding of my usage needs to feel confident that a DSLR with a prime 50mm 1.4 lens would likely do for 99.9 percent of my shots. I actually never use the zoom function on my compact; that's just my personal style/preference of shooting. If it is the case therefore that one 'prime' lens would basically never leave my camera, am I wasting money on a DLSR? I guess I like the idea of having that bigger, faster, lens in front of me for more control in various light.

    A Nikon D40 'off the shelf' with a prime 50mm 1.4 lens would probably be just the thing, except....
    One thing that encourages me to get the DSLR is the ability to use filters, polarizing, colored filters for B&W, etc. But is that even relevant anymore to basic hobby usage? Can all/most of that be corrected post-edit with software nowadays?
    I read a few places that the D40 does not support autofocus with prime lenses. What? Did I read that correctly? Seems a shame that I'd have to go up in price to gain this support.

    Ok, now that you know a little about me, any recommendations? Perhaps even a less expensive brand DSLR than the Canons or Nikons since I'm not anticipating owning more lenses in the future? Any fixed lens basic, but high quality, digital cameras out there with very nice big and fast lenses?

    Oh, and one more question. What the heck is it with the state of this art that tethering capability is not common to even the lowest life form of digital camera? When I upgraded to the Samsung after almost ten years of amazing industry development since the Pentax, I (seriously) just assumed that I would be able to tripod mount the camera and 'hot-sync' it to my laptop via USB to adjust settings, snap images, and edit on the fly directly from my keyboard. I was astonished to find that this capabillity is only available in the higher level DSLRs. This would be a walk in the park for any camera manufacturer to include in it's programs and software. For god's sake, cellphone aps do everything but serve popcorn nowadays, and I can't link my digital camera functions to my laptop? Is this something that I can expect to be able to do, even with 3rd party software, with any of the 'entry' level cameras that I'm shopping for?

    Thanks so much!
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2010
  2. SLRs have mirrors that would need to lock in the up position to allow tethered shooting. Some of the new high-end cameras allow it. Think about how hard this is for a high-end sensor...

    Look at the new Micro 4/3 cameras, a new standard that is truly digital, not trying to build around the antediluvian design of the mirror box.

    For your style of shooting (though NOT your budget) I suggest you have hot fantasies about Leica's new X-1. Made for shooters like you!
     
  3. frascati

    frascati TPF Noob!

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    You are a cruel man to direct an old man's gaze at such a supermodel as that! But boy, if I were a rich man. Yes, that appears to be precisely the type of camera I could grow to love.

    Is there a similarly suited, well praised, camera that is more affordable? The Lumix line looks like it might appeal to that basic, fixed lens, high performance ethic without excessive bell and whistlery. Or am I making too much of their familiy ties?

    As highly regarded as they are, why do I keep finding hits against the Lumix line generally for comparative (in their price range) image quality?
     
  4. Lumix uses Leica glass, and the lowest Leicas used Panasonic hardware and firmware. They're quite good, you would not go wrong with a Panasonic.
     
  5. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    When Autofocus became the norm, back in the late 80s, Nikon kept their lens mount and started putting AF motors into their new bodies that would control their new AF lenses. This was acceptable because older, MF lenses could still be used.
    Canon, on the other hand, ditched their entire FD lens mount and people had to buy new lenses for their new cameras. These new lenses has AF motors built into them and the bodies didn't.

    Fast forward to only a couple years ago...and entry level (the highest selling models) DSLR cameras are getting so small, that for Nikon to compete, they had to remove the AF motor. By this time, they do have some lenses with their own motors...but it does leave the sticky situation where some lenses won't AF with cameras like the D40 or D60. However, there is the benefit that you can still mount practically any Nikon lens made in the last 40 or 50 years.
     
  6. Diamond Dave

    Diamond Dave TPF Noob!

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    Careful, I got crucified once for suggesting that current DSLR design was archaic! I think that was on another forum, though. :mrgreen:

    I agree, the best bargains to be had are with the 4/3 and micro 4/3 bodies, and also Sony. If you aren't a lens hound and don't need Canon L or Nikkor stamped on your lens, these "second-tier" (yeah, right) bodies offer a lot of bang for the buck.

    And yes, we still use filters and whatnot, because photoshop is for losers! :lmao:
     
  7. koryGander

    koryGander TPF Noob!

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    Thank you all for your insights. It's obvious that I need one.

    KG
     
  8. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Yes. I'm pretty sure every dSLR can shoot tethered, even the entry level ones. I know my 350D can, and it's a few years old now.

    I would bet that you could even get it to work on P&S cameras with the right software.

    I know Canon dSLRs come with all the necessary software - not sure if the same is true for Nikon.
     
  9. frascati

    frascati TPF Noob!

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    Is it possible to find a Pentax K-X with a prime lens at 'kit' price? It looks as if every camera with lens sold has the same 18-55mm AL lens included.
     
  10. djacobox372

    djacobox372 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    keep in mind that most dslrs are a 2/3rds "crop" compared to 35mm film, so a 50mm lens is a bit on the long side if its your only one a 35mm lens is better for all purpose use.

    also, have u considered film? pro level slrs like the nikon f100 can be had for about 200 and u can use all the modern pro lenses on them.
     
  11. frascati

    frascati TPF Noob!

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    Yes. The deals on some of the film camera equipment are very tempting. But I am far far more temperamentally inclined toward digital. Frankly it has tempted me back into the the hobby. The material, chemical, timing, cost per image, etc constraints certainly must compel some toward greatness, but never me. It's a question of personality. I'm much more comfortable in some state of 'creative ferment' (creating a mess) and then picking amidst the wreckage for jewels. With film stocks, that method and thinking leaves a depressing and costly amount of waste. I never did get control of it. If I'd ever gone pro, with an open expense acct, it might have been different. But with my digital "point and shoots" I can abuse the little SD card to almost no end of experiment, pick the winners, and wipe the slate. There is certainly a good argument to be made that this promotes laziness, but I can sincerely say that it's offered freedom and encouragement. Otherwise I never would have considered finer photography again.

    I remember how disgusted my computer programmer brother was when Apple came along in the 80's with a GUI that suddenly empowered every tom dick harry and alice to get behind the keyboard and drive their computers right out of the showroom. My brother insisted that is was for the worse since the basic programming skillset that he'd worked so hard to master became largely unnecessary for the average user. It would promote a dumbing down. He had a valid point. But he missed the bigger one. The GUI shifted the creative process into a much higher gear for the actual majority of users. The argument will always linger, and can't be entirely dismissed, that computer users might all benefit by some fundamental knowledge of programming and architecture. I don't know. My brother is still programming. I don't think there is a shortage of his type (thank god). Has anything really been lost among the generation that will soon emerge that never owned a film camera? Maybe. I don't know.

    Sorry. I'm not trying to argue anything. This stuff just kind of fascinates me. In fact I do believe it would be a terrible loss if film photography, or analog music recording for that matter, were ever to wink out of existence.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2010
  12. iolair

    iolair No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Given what you've described (D-SLR functionality, but only wanting a single, fixed, prime lens), maybe you should consider the Sigma DP-1 or DP-2 camera? I don't have any personal experience with either, but that's the way they're marketed.
     

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