SLR Before Swine?

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My birthday is coming up, and I’ve asked Dana if I can buy myself a camera. Mine doesn’t have image stabilization and heaven knows I need it. But, now, after looking at my options, I think I need some advice.

I’m looking into digital SLR cameras. A few of my friends have them, and I’m impressed at the image quality. I like how there’s no wait for the camera to fire up and be ready to take a shot. Image stabilization, of course. I like the speed of the shots.

Here’s the thing, though: I’m an awful photographer. I really have a terrible eye. My wife always raises an eyebrow at my compositions. My hands, as I’ve already alluded to twice before, are unsteady, to say the least. Perhaps the reason I love photography is because I do not take for granted the talent and work that goes into taking beautiful shots.

Is an expensive SLR camera going to be wasted on me? We’re talking about the difference of shelling out $700 vs $300 for a camera. Is this foolish extravagance to want the better gear?

There’s going to be some big changes in my life, and I want to be able to keep a lot more visual memories for posterity. I feel I don’t pick up and use the camera I have now because it’s so frustrating for me never to get the kind of images that really capture my experience. I’m always too late, or the picture’s always blurred, or yadda yadda yadda.

So what do you think? Should I bite the bullet and buy an SLR, or just settle for an upgrade of what I already have?

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4 thoughts on “SLR Before Swine?

  1. nancy

    I’ve heard good things about the nikon D70 and the canon rebel. but neither are cheap. My opinion? point and shoot cameras have worked for generations of babies, and that extra money may come in handy for that bike he/she will want someday.

    a lot of point and shoot cameras come with manual functions that give you basic SLR capability. So for things like catching motion shots that aren’t blurry – finding a p&s with manual capabilities will fill most people’s needs. You can even do things like change the shutter speed, aperture, and f-stop. My personal recommendation is the canon A series. it’s not a very sexy looking camera, but it gets rave reviews from photo buffs for the very reasons i gave above (point and shoot easy with the dynamics of basic SLR features). unless you’ll be doing fancy work – i don’t think you’ll need the professional stuff.

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  2. Halla

    Whether you get a SLR or not, the important thing is to get a really nice set of lens. In general SLR lens tend to be nicer, but there are some non-SLRs that also have high quality lens. For me, the most important difference between expensive lens and less expensive lens is how they correct chromatic aberration: all lens have to focus light onto a single point, but light waves of different wavelengths (colors) bend slightly differently, and so some colors come out more intensely than others, depending on how your lens are constructed. I’m not very happy with our current camera’s color quality (Canon Powershot A70). I used to have a film SLR (Nikon N50) with better colors, but stopped using it because I got tired of using film, and because it’s much more bulky to carry around than a simple digital camera. The tradeoff of a smaller, thinner camera is that its lens are typically not as good at giving you accurate colors, although you may be able to correct this with software nowadays.

    Liz and I will probably buy a nicer camera in the next few months, either a Nikon digital SLR, a Canon digital SLR, or something with fixed lens with equally good quality. The SLR gives you freedom to swap out lens, but in practice, I never did that. Who wants to carry around a 300mm telephoto lens? It’s big, heavy, and unnecessary unless you like birdwatching or you’re a member of the paparazzi.

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  3. Well, tell Dana it’s best to have both, since they complement each other so well. 🙂 For its advantages (speed of operation, low noise at high ISO, and to a lesser extent image quality), using an SLR is simply a different way of working. If you’re not SURE you need one, I would try to borrow or rent one for a week or two and see how you like it. Then you’ll know. I agree with what Nancy said about setting point-and-shoots to manual. If I had one, I’d probably use it in manual mode most of the time. I think that would speed up the response time as well. Casios are also supposedly quite manual-mode friendly.

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  4. I definitely think you should get an SLR! I’ve been struggling with the same question myself. And for now I got a great point and shoot to carry around with me everywhere…but I’m saving up to buy an SLR. Can’t wait!

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