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DSLR for somebody starting out in photography

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Posted on 12 Feb 2012 19:40:10 GMT
X says:
Hi Doc G: This place is going up in the world. We now have at least three "Docs", of which at least one is ashamed to admit it...

Most people who really want to work at their photography should end up with a carefully selected DSLR, so not just the two lens bundle or one of the knee-jerk brands, suitable for what they want to do. Most people also believe that they cannot develop their photography without a DSLR, so they miss the considerations behind the preceding sentence. It's a pity for them, but not for the manufacturers and chain retailers who ship out paperweights by the truck-load.

On the supposition that there are precedents with the small-bodied film SLR and the live view screen on the back of DSLRs, both launched by Olympus and emulated by everyone else, I expect some of the advances of the Olympus OM-D technical package will be applied, probably improved, by everyone else. Olympus's reduction of their DSLR range coinciding with the first OM-D camera, I would say they don't see the full DSLR as a product for enthusiastic amateurs for much longer. The others will follow. Fast focusing outside of a mirrored system seems to be a problem solved, the Olympus add-on electronic viewfinder is such an improvement it may not defeat the case for optical viewfinders, but it weakens it.

We will not be advising beginners to aim for DSLRs for many more years.

Posted on 12 Feb 2012 23:13:04 GMT
G. E. Hearn says:
The Activator:

A good compact is a great tool for carrying around, and in many situations it's all the camera you need. But take it to a Grand Prix or an indoor music gig in poor light and see how far it gets you.
There is a very good reason that there are many professional DSLR's yet there are no professional compacts. They're good for what they are, but they have their limitations. When you need speed and accuracy especially in low light then there is still no practical digital subtistute for the mighty SLR.
Also, lenses hold their value. Any decent glass you buy will always have a high resale value and will outlast many, many digital camera bodies. Money you spend on a compact is money you'll never get back again.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Feb 2012 23:39:09 GMT
Hi Ed,
I've no doubt that given a few years there will be advances in camera technology which may well push optical viewfinder cameras to the point of extinction. In my view it's a pity that photographic capability seems to take second place to the specifications arms race. It will be interesting to see whether we get a backlash against ever more pointless modes, pixels and stratospheric ISOs. Not to mention pointless stereo.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Feb 2012 23:43:51 GMT
Hannah says:
I'd hate to see the optical viewfinder vanish... is one of my favourite features :( I feel like I'm using the camera, and you make your own judgement as to how the final image will look, rather than staring at a screen that shows you what it'll look like before you take it...

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Feb 2012 00:22:50 GMT
How true Hannah,
They have already got rid of pentaprisms in most dSLRs and changed them to mirror based VFs and now they seem to be making them smaller. What's all that about?

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Feb 2012 01:28:35 GMT
Hannah says:
People want things to get smaller... The majority want smaller technology. There is little consideration for those who don't. Is a real shame really... could be a good business opportunity.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Feb 2012 07:46:51 GMT
Hi Hanna,
I'm sure you are right. All manufacturers are doing it. Maybe they think having a dioptre control is all you need, or "let them have laser surgery" - perhaps thery should talk to their optician? On the other hand the EVF in a Sony SLT is quite large. Luckily my A700 has a pentaprism.
If that went kaput I'm not sure what I'd do. SLT, struggle with a small viewfinder or shell out on a pro model?

Posted on 13 Feb 2012 08:56:08 GMT
X says:
Hi Doc G! I'm not saying I want to see optical viewfinders reserved to only top professional DSLRs, just that it appears to make industrial sense. Electronics are so easy to develop and cheap to manufacture.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Feb 2012 11:47:48 GMT
Hi Ed,
Your point is oh so probable. The photographic habits of the masses have always driven the amateur market to some extent. This probably had more affect on film sales in the past but now it is little digital cameras. I wonder if mobile phones will surplant compacts and then manufacturers will have to try to get sales with niche market products - some of which may actually appeal to me?

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Feb 2012 00:47:02 GMT
G. Barton says:
I can't believe you are advising him to start out at that price! What if he doesn't like it?

Posted on 19 Feb 2012 00:53:32 GMT
Hannah says:
What do you mean? He asked about DSLRs for beginners so we are advising him as such. Sure, they are pricey, but it you don't spend out on a DSLR and go for a cheaper point-and-shoot, you can't say you don't enjoy it. I'm glad I got mine - the results motivate me to keep it up. I could never get these results with my compact - especially the night shots or close-ups

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Feb 2012 00:59:35 GMT
G. Barton says:
Problems with in-built lens motors, that's why so many people buy them. He is just starting out, why go and spend loads of dosh on something he may stop doing by this time next year???

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Feb 2012 09:57:38 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Feb 2012 10:00:02 GMT
Hanna is right ! we all choose what o do with our money .. if someone asks for experience advice they can choose what to do with that advice .. I would advise him to buy either a Nikon D5100 or a Canon 550D .. both are super cameras .. but he can chooses to do wherever they want !

Posted on 19 Feb 2012 12:50:40 GMT
X says:
Humility helps when "spending someone else's money". Advice which is neither on topic nor a heads-up for another suitable suggestion is lamentable, as is advice that cannot get out of the knee-jerk Nikon/Canon zone. Other manufacturers know how to run their businesses, (with a temporary predicate for Olympus on that count), and are not making DSLRs which have no market. We can be asked for advice where the Canon/Nikon attitude is plain wrong.

Posted on 19 Feb 2012 18:21:36 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Feb 2012 18:24:02 GMT
Liz says:
The only spending regrets I have are on cameras that I don't enjoy using. Unfortunately, no matter how much research we do before buying, nothing really beats hands on experience to tell us what we'd enjoy or not enjoy.

Hence my fantasy of a camera library or reasonably priced hire facility. By the time I'd tried a camera for a week or two, I'd know whether it was right for me, or not. If the facility had brilliant advisors on hand to listen to our needs and indicate potentially suitable cameras to try, and let us try them for weight/grip/comfort before we hired, so much the better. They could also advise us to try lenses other than the standard kit lenses, so as we end up spending the minimum to meet our needs, with the confidence that what we have bought, is right.

Shame it's just a fantasy!

Posted on 19 Feb 2012 19:53:12 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Feb 2012 19:57:23 GMT
G. E. Hearn says:
Oh, it's not a fantasy - Calumet do a hire service. Although it's all professional kit, as you probably know. I've often thought it would be a good way to try something before spending thousands of pounds.
On the other hand of course, anyone looking to purchase professional-grade equipment will have long since firmly nailed their colours to the mast of a particular manufacturer. Generally either Nikon or Canon (Sorry X! - it's just market forces).

I must agree with Hanna though. The original question was asking for opinions on a good DSLR for a beginner. I presumed, as did many others, that if the OP is asking specifically for DSLR advice then they've done their homework and decided that that's what they need.
Who are we to play "Nanny knows best" and assume they're besotted by a passing fad? I wasn't sure that I needed a DSLR when I bought my first one, but I'm damn glad I did. I have pictures now that would have been impossible to achieve with the sort of compact that I would otherwise have purchased.
But the main thing that the DSLR and kit zooms have done for me is to be my "Training wheels" while I built up my experience for free before graduating to film cameras and prime lenses.
The results there are better, but you need to exercise more care and forethought. Because mistakes in that realm can get expensive.

Posted on 19 Feb 2012 23:14:32 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Feb 2012 23:15:26 GMT
Liz says:
This is true. I'm currently learning in tandem with film and a Panasonic Lumix G10. As you say, it doesn't cost anything to make a mistake on a digital camera! The Lumix has been frustrating to own because lenses are expensive. However, the third party manufacturers are coming on board with the micro 4/3 format and so in future, more lenses will be available at hopefully, lower prices. The only problem is that Panasonic put their image stabilisation in the lens rather than in the camera body, which might make it difficult to make savings on lenses. If I'd known more when I purchased, I probably would have opted for a system that has the image stabilisation in the camera body, making it easier to find suitable third party lenses or old lenses to use with adapters.
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Initial post:  21 Sep 2011
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