Finally stepping up to a DSLR....tips, advice needed

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by ScubaSteve, Sep 10, 2008.

  1. ScubaSteve

    ScubaSteve TPF Noob!

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    Hi all, first time posting here.

    A little background about me - Photography has always been a major source of interest for me and while I've been taking loads of pictures for a long time, I just recently started to really get into it. My first camera when I was a kid was a cheap Minolta P&S film camera (which I shot with until it literally fell apart on me), my next one after that was a very early model Sony Cybershot, and I just recently acquired an Olympus SP-560 UZ (another P&S, albeit bridge camera), which I purchased back in April of this year. I've never owned an SLR camera, but have been craving a digital one for quite awhile now.

    After spending an entire summer of being very disappointed with my new SP-560, I spent several weeks reviewing DSLR cameras and lenses and decided to retire from the point and shoots. So, I sold it and ended up purchasing a [FONT=arial,helvetica][FONT=arial,helvetica]Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT, along with a [/FONT][/FONT]Canon EF 28-90mm F/4-5.6 III lens, both of which will arrive at my house later this week. (I'll worry about the telephoto and the 50mm prime lenses I want later on).

    Anyway, I was just hoping that someone here could provide some pointers and tips about the new stuff that an SLR noob like me will experience when making this transition; I'm assuming there is a ton of new pleasures and pains that are awaiting me. I probably should have posted this before buying anything, I suppose, but the deal is sealed. I know many of you have been here and done that, but I don't personally know anyone who has been a point-n-pray person for so long before making the leap into the SLR world, so I decided to throw this out there for your thoughts.

    Any advice appreciated. Thanks in advance. :)

    -Steve
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2008
  2. prodigy2k7

    prodigy2k7 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Okay, I have the XTi, so let me think of some new tips and things to say...I almost *always* use the center AF point (1 point of the 9 available), its not always wise to use it on audo (it chooses the points for you) because sometimes it will miss your intended subject and focus on the background for instance..., also I hear the center AF point is the more precise point, as compared to lets say the one to the far right or far left....

    Also, When changing lenses or taking the lens off to store it, point the hole on the body down, so dust cannot fall into the opening and get onto your mirror and end up on your sensor....

    And when you remove your lens, replace it with a new lens ASAP or the body cover ASAP!!! You really dont want dust in there...

    I highly recommend a battery grip, for me I am 19, have fairly big hands (long fingers) and I love the grip, it makes the camera slightly bigger, doubles battery life (holds 2 batteries instead of one in the camera body) It also helps with holding it steady..

    Umm what else, get a camera bag! I highly recommend to eventually get a suit case camera case, for travel in the car, or for short time storage, so if something falls on it or you stop on it, you dont break your camera. Lots of people use camera bags, but if you step or something falls onto it...You *could* damage it...

    Try to not remove lenses as much as possible to reduce the risk of getting dust on mirror/sensor...

    I dont remember what its called, but get a puffer, its a rubber spherical shape, or football shaped air filled puffer thing, to blow off dust when you get dust on the sensor...

    Get a UV filter or glass filter...to cover your lens to protect it from scratches...

    You *may* want a lens hood, look into it for your lens....

    Get a couple batteries...

    When it comes to memory cards, bigger isnt always better, they have some 32GB cards, but if it breaks, you can lose a LOT of pictures... Try to get more smaller cards like 4GB or maybe even 8GB, I normally stick with 4GB cards...

    My neck strap is horribly uncompfortable... Look into getting a new one or buying/putting something on it to be softer... Mine makes my neck red and hurts from rubbing on it...

    Thats all I could think about right now..
     
  3. prodigy2k7

    prodigy2k7 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    On another note, I came from P&S Canon PowerShot S2 IS, I will never go back :)
    My DSLR is awesome :)
     
  4. Mike30D

    Mike30D TPF Noob!

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    Remember that you actually have to look through the viewfinder and not at the lcd when shooting.:lol:

    With all the recovery software available today, I wouldn't worry about losing photos on the big cards. I shoot weddings and I use 8GB cards.

    Have fun with your new purchase!
     
  5. sburatorul

    sburatorul TPF Noob!

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    i think it is called a shoulder strap and i found out it is by far more comfortable to carry the camera on the shoulder. it still is in close reach and it doesn't make your neck red.
     
  6. kundalini

    kundalini Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    There is an easy and inexpensive cure for the. The TPF Strap.

    Here's a thread about it. There is a link (#3) where you can order and a link of one in use (#9). :biggrin:

    It really is a nice strap.
     
  7. ChrisOquist

    ChrisOquist TPF Noob!

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    There's always a place for point-and-shoots.. Like, oh, I don't know.. shooting a National Geographic two-page spread:

    Film is Dead, Long Live Film

    Full disclosure: I shoot on an XT :lol:

    Chris
     
  8. prodigy2k7

    prodigy2k7 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Its a lot less likely to get smacked around by your hip or fall off your shoulder if its on your neck. Expensive equipment, i don't normally like to bang my stuff around :p
     
  9. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    From Olympus:
    • 18x optical zoom (equivalent to 27-486mm on a 35mm camera) 1:2.8-4.5 – for extreme close ups to stunning scenes plus 5.6x digital zoom
    • Avoids blur thanks to Dual Image Stabilisation
    • Don’t miss the moment with high-speed sequence shooting (15fps) and pre-capture mode (In reduced pixel mode 1.2 MP)
    • Face Detection Technology for perfectly focused and exposed faces plus correct exposure of other image areas
    • Great for shots of flowers & detail as close as 1cm with Super Macro mode
    • P/A/S/M exposure modes for creative freedom
    • 24 scene modes (e.g. Smile Shot, Underwater Wide and Macro) for best results in different situations
    • 8.0 Megapixels to make poster-size prints
    • See and share images on the 6.4cm/2.5” LCD (230,000 pixel resolution)
    • Shadow Adjustment Technology to brighten shadowy areas in a composition
    • Better low light shooting thanks to BrightCapture Technology
    • Liven up memories with movie recording with sound
    • TruePic III image processor for faster image handling and higher image quality
    • Underwater shooting up to water pressure equivalent of 40m possible in combination with optional underwater case PT-037
    • 25 languages on board
    • Dioptric correction
    • Internal memory and xD-Picture Card slot
    • Supplied with Olympus Master software 2.03 including Muvee Pack trial version plus four AA batteries
    • TCON-017 teleconversion lens and CLA-10 adapter ring optionally available for maximum focal length of 826mm (or 4626mm when combined with digital zoom)


    From DPReview (http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/olympussp560uz/):
    • 18X optical zoom, giving a 27mm-486mm equiv. range
    • Dual IS, combining sensor shift technology with high ISO settings
    • 8.0 million pixel sensor
    • ISO 6400 at 3.1MP
    • ISO 3200 at full resolution
    • RAW mode
    • Face detection
    • Face detection-combined In-camera red-eye reduction
    • Rapid continuous shooting (up to 15fps at 2MP)
    • 25 scene modes
    • Smile mode (waits for subject to smile)
    • Expression Edit
    • Shadow Adjust
    • Control of off-board flashguns, with latest firmware


    I think in order to offer any actually intelligent advice a reason for your dissatisfaction with the Olympus SP-560 UZ should be discussed and explained. I know for sure if you're not satisfied with that you SURE are NOT going to be satisfied with an XTi or a D40 - no doubt about that in my mind at least.

    The only thing wrong with the Olympus that I can think of is
    • The noise at higher ISO ratings,
    • The slight lack of DOF,
    • Missing manual zoom ring,
    • Missing manual focus ring.

    What's up?
     
  10. ScubaSteve

    ScubaSteve TPF Noob!

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    Looking back at my post, I think my opinion about the SP-560 is accurate (at least for me, personally...I'm sure there are many others out there who are quite satisfied with it). For the price, it definitely makes a decent overall camera for the casual user, but that did not prevent me from finding what seemed to be rather silly design oversights, along with some glaring performance shortcomings. There were many positive aspects of the camera that I thought were superb (image stabilization worked perfectly, body is ergonomic and buttons were located intuitively, impressive zoom), but the negatives are equally noticeable and were frustrating enough to make a frequent shooter like myself the decision to sell it and get a better one.

    I averaged about 800-1,000 shots a month since April and here are some of the reasons for my disappointment in the Olympus SP-560 UZ:

    1. Holy friggin' noise, Batman. I don't even know why they introduced 6400 ISO on that camera model because it literally useless. I understand that this is a shortfall of all compact cameras due to the image sensor size, but gimme a break; Canon's own compacts blow them out of the water when it comes to high ISOs. I generally didn't use anything above 400 because anything above that makes the photo appear that it was produced on 40-grit sandpaper. I've seen cleaner images shot at 1600 on the Rebel than ones shot at 200 on the SP.

    2. SLOOOOW. Slower than molasses in January on a cold, Wisconsin morning. For starters, the startup time is three seconds, and that's not including the time you need to allow the extremely sluggish auto focus to lock on to something before it lets you release the shutter - the XT is ready to go in a whopping 0.2 seconds after hitting the power. Also, the memory write/read speed is laughable. If you plan on shooting in RAW mode, you may as well bring War and Peace with so you can sit down and read a chapter or two while the camera leisurely writes the image to the card. I'm still not sure what kind of memory I'm getting for the XT, but surely it is faster than the SP.


    3. Manual focus is a joke. As you mentioned above, there is no MF ring. Instead you have to switch focus modes in a sub-menu, then once you're back in capture mode you have to press and hold a button to find the correct range (it shows you a miniscule inset of a zoomed-in region while you are doing this in order to 'assist' you in finding the proper range) and then you have to press and hold another button to lock it in, then you are finally able to take a picture. If you need to make an adjustment, you have to exit capture mode so you can change the focus again. WTF. Trying to find the correct focus when it's dark outside is nearly impossible - not because the buttons are hard to see, but because there is really no way of telling if your subject is/was truly in focus without seeing the photo on a computer screen when you get home.


    4. Noise reduction system - this is actually a hard one for me to knock because it actually works pretty well - when I need it. But the camera employs a dark frame subtraction method, which cuts the time you are able to take pictures in half. So, if I'm shooting in bulb mode (which I do quite often when I shoot lightning), NR is on by default and you can't turn it off. Which means, if I'm waiting for a strike and I don't get one in the 20-30 seconds I normally give myself to keep the shutter open, I have to release the trigger and wait another agonizing 20-30 seconds for the camera to take the dark frame and process before I'm able to open up the shutter for another exposure. This is unbelievably frustrating for a lightning photographer because I can't tell you how many times I'd be standing there impatiently waiting for the camera to do it's work and then see the sky explode with lightning directly in front of me, after which I promptly smash my head through the nearest wall for missing the shot (if you think capturing lightning is easy try it yourself some time).The XT's noise reduction system doesn't employ a dark frame subtraction method, therefore I will not have this brain anerysm-inducing problem.

    5. Optics - the chromatic aberration is just horrible at long focal lengths. I took a long range photo of downtown Milwaukee from the lakefront and the city looks like it was attacked by a large purple marker. I don't see how I'm going to be encounter the same problem with any decent Canon lens.

    (Edit: I can't believe I forgot about this one):
    6. Movie mode - I have no idea what Olympus was thinking with this one, but if you wish to use the zoom while shooting video, you have to disable the microphone. Who thought this would be a good idea??


    I could go on and on about other, less significant things that irritated me about this camera (like how burst mode is a joke too), but those are the main ones. Perhaps you still may have your doubts about whether I will be happier with my new Canon XT, but I certainly don't.

    -Steve




     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2008
  11. mrodgers

    mrodgers No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Did you just compare a P&S camera with a dSLR in that above post? Of course the points you make about the XT vs. the Olympus are going to be that, you are comparing very different pieces of equipment.

    I don't have a dSLR as I can't afford one. I do have a camera of similar style of the Olympus you specify. I can say all this stuff about my camera as well. But I'm not going to compare a $200 P&S camera to a dSLR.

    Noise, of course my camera, much like you claim with yours, is horrible with noise at high ISO. ISO 800 is high for a P&S. ISO 1600 I would not consider high for a dSLR. I would expect good results from a dSLR at ISO 1600 as much as I would expect very poor results at ISO 800 on my camera. Even ISO 400 has a good bit of noise, but it is tolerable.

    Speed? Sluggish auto focus? Well, even the small dSLR lenses are freakin larger than my entire camera, and my camera is not a compact P&S. So, they fit zoom motors and zoom motors inside the lens of my camera of which is about 1/4th or smaller the size of a dSLR camera. Not only that, but I'm talking the 18-55 mm kit lens of an XTi as the example where I have the 35 mm equiv. of 38-380 mm in that 1/4th of the size (I've calculated it out to be equiv. to 200 mm of a dSLR on the long end, so I am guessing I am equiv. to about 20-200 mm on a dSLR lens.)

    Manual focus, again, it's a tiny camera with a tiny lens and body compared to a dSLR. Everything you've stated that you say are "glaring performance oversights" are nothing more than limitations in what the piece of equipment is, and that is small. If we had available a small P&S camera that perform like a dSLR then we would have large P&S cameras that cost what dSLR cameras cost why would you go that route over an actual dSLR?

    I take what I have, a small camera with many limitations due to what it is, and use it to the best of my ability, use it to the best of my knowledge of photography, use it to the best of my knowledge of my camera, and work around the limitations to the best of my ability.

    Just having a dSLR over a limited P&S doesn't do anything miraculously. I just found this out today having the chance to briefly play with a Rebel XTi with the 18-55 mm kit lens in Av, Tv, and manual modes. My photos were absolutely horrible and completely unusable being noisy, way overexposed and extremely blurry, my coworkers photos shot in full auto were perfectly fine (but not stunning or fantastic), and neither of those photos with the XTi would begin to compare compare to what I could have done with my own P&S camera with the knowledge I have over my own camera.

    A camera is just a camera and I learned that lesson today. It's in how you use the camera that matters. My P&S camera produces far far nicer photos with me behind the lens than my coworker's Rebel XTi produces with him behind the lens. It's all about the way I use my P&S compared to the way he uses his XTi. Of course, I have no doubt that after having a chance to really play with stuff and learn how his camera shoots, I would produce better photos than with my P&S, but again, that is due to the person using what he has to use rather than just the equipment being used.
     
  12. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, I've heard that lens was poor at over about 200mm and downright ridiculous at over 300mm. They used that same lens in another system but allowed it to zoom out to 500mm hahaha. There were so many bad reviews and complaints that they limited it to 486 LOL. Same lens - they just moved the stop. :D They should have limited it to 300 as I hear it. :p


    Anyway, all those troubles are addressed by just about any dSLR with a decent lens. The long exposure NR lag is the same in general - most (I think) dSLRs do the same thing. So... what kind of tips were you looking for?
     

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