[DSLR] Things to consider before getting a DSLR

26 04 2010

DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras are getting more and more popular when we look around even when you are out in the park. I am sure some of you out there are thinking of getting one if you have not already got it. But…. should you?

A lot of people ask me, what DSLR should he / she get. Canon? Nikon? D3000? D300? 550D? 5D Mark II? And my typical reply would be: “Why do you want to get one?” & “Are you ready for one?”. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to divert away from answering the tough questions or indicating the person is not ‘good enough’ to own a DSLR, but I believe a lot of people has some wrong perception when they want to get a DSLR and are ill informed on the pros & cons of it.

For those of you who are thinking of getting a DSLR, make sure you can answer “yes” to the following:

  • Are you willing to carry a huge camera around?
  • Are you willing to carry one extra KG (at least) around?
  • Have you used it for more than a day (cumulative)?
  • Are you prepared to have at least 2 different lenses?

Are you willing to carry a huge camera around? & Are you willing to carry one extra KG (at least) around?

If you are planning to get a DSLR, this is something you MUST be prepared for. Even with the most compact lens in the DSLR arsenal, the lens and the body is more than double that of a compact camera which can give you more ‘zoom’. And the same goes for the weight.

You have to be mentally prepared to carry a DSLR and accessories when you are on holiday. And with all the walking and sweating, extra weight is not welcomed. Not to mention after I got my DSLR, my packing methods when i travel has changed. I used to be very careful and pack extra cloths for my carry-on bag, but after i got my DSLR, there is no more space.

Have you used it for more than a day (cumulative)?

This is asked, mainly because if you have answered yes to the above, it could just be that you THINK you are willing to carry the extra weight and bulk around. For this case, I would say that until you have tried it for yourself, it’s still just the imagination talking and your body might not agree 🙂

Moreover, carrying a large equipment around might cramp your style!

Are you prepared to have at least 2 different lenses?

There is a lot of things which we take for granted, and won’t appreciate it until we don’t have it. This is especially true for compact cameras, because the most simple compact camera will have at least 3x zoom and macro capability. This alone, you will need 2 different lens to get decent results when you are using a DSLR. You will especially feel the hit, if you have a 10x zoom compact camera like my wife. There are a lot of times when my wife takes shots when I just stand there looking at her or busy changing lens to take those shots, and it hurts 😛

Of course, you have have an alternative to use a super zoom lens for the DSLRs like Tamron’s 18-270mm, which gives you ~15x zoom. But you still still need another lens for macro 😛

Moreover, with the quick pace digital camera manufacturers come out with new models, have you considered other alternative high end compact cameras?

  • larger pixel size / array – better low light & noise performance -> Canon’s G11, Panasonic’s LX3,
  • bokeh (blur) effect -> Panasonics’ LX3, Samsung’s TL500
  • flexible manual control -> Nikon P100, Canon’s G11,

And lastly….. have you consider the array of Micro Four Thirds cameras from Panasonic and Olympus? Currently my only quarrels with Micro Four Thirds are slow focusing speed, better batteries and better sensors, but they are closer to DSLR minus the size. That’s my take.

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