There’s an excellent post at Digital Photography School that tells you how you should take the next step from P&S (otherwise known as “point and shoot”) to DSLR (digital single lens reflux). I made the move in June of 2005 and haven’t regretted it.
Here are their reasons to upgrade to the DSLR — and I will complement them with my thoughts.
- Better Image Quality: Larger image sensors and built-in noise reduction means better shots compared to the point-and-shoot models. I’ll add that the newer models are even better at this.
- For example, photos from the Nikon D80 have less grain than its predecessor, the Nikon D70 (and D70s).
- I have about 8 lenses, from super wide to tele-zoom — and a few prime lenses as well. For definitions, please see my forever changing digital camera glossary.
- When I first started using a DSLR, this was the first thing I noticed. As soon as you press that shutter button, the photo is taken, whereas there is a noticeable delay on P&S cameras. Furthermore, you can take up to 5 shots per second on DSLR cameras. Now that’s fast.
- It’s an adjustment in a digital camera that most models don’t have live previewing in the LCD, but this isn’t a bad thing.
- The Nikon D70 has an ISO range of 200 to 1600, whereas the Nikon D200 has an ISO range of 100 to 3200. The difference is substantial.
- This helps you become a better photographer by learning the manual controls and by seeing its results on your LCD — so you can delete a lousy shot and work with an alternative manual setting on the spot.
- This is why I stay Nikon — my Nikon lenses work on my D70 and D200… and on my husband’s D50. Note: They will not work on other manufacturer camera bodies (some exceptions, though rare, apply at the cost of manual focus only).
- Depth of field is an art, and having this power will give you a lot more options. I suggest that if you are looking to learn more about it, you should buy Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. This book is amazing and will help you through understanding the manual controls with ease.
- A lot of my friends at NikonCafe, therefore, buy the more expensive Nikkor (Nikon brand) lenses over comparable third-party lenses that are one third of the price. That is not to say I recommend it — it is a cost investment — but reselling lenses is generally an easy thing to do. If you’re starting out, practice with the lens kit that comes with your camera body and see what your needs will be from that point onward.
The article goes on further to say that when you’re looking for a DSLR, you should consider the following factors:
- Price: Of the current production of Nikon bodies, the prices range from $999 (D80) to ~$4399 (D2Xs).
If you’re a professional, go for the gold. Otherwise, a Nikon D80 is more than sufficient and packs in a lot of great features. You’ll want to consider that you’ll also be buying lenses, batteries, memory cards (they don’t come with DSLR cameras, sadly), a camera bag (especially if you’re carrying another lens with you), filters, and warranties (and yes, you should opt-in for one of these). Regardless of what you buy, make sure that you are not conned by any digital camera dealers or stores.
- Know what you’ll use it for: If you’re taking photos of a child, you’ll want a portrait lens. If photographing closeups of flowers and insects tickles your fancy, buy a macro lens. If you like landscapes, you’ll want a wide-angle lens. If you are at a sporting event, you’ll likely want a zoom lens. There are some great “dual-purpose” lenses that do both, such as the 18-200mm lenses (and is sufficient for the beginner), but as you learn more about photography, you’ll likely want to broaden your horizons and build on that collection.
- Size: Think about a photographer at a wedding or a sporting event. Little do you know that he’s generally coming into the event with a suitcase (or two, or three) of gear that include the camera bodies (yes, plural) and a bunch of lenses to photograph the event. If you’re going DSLR for the first time, you’ll likely want to start small (the “D80 line”) rather than large (the “D2H/D2X line”). As stated in #1, Price, the larger cameras pack in more features, but first, get acquainted with your camera, especially if you know that the large size and the vertical grip isn’t necessary yet.
- Previous Gear: This is a great thing about DSLR cameras: “recyclability.” If you have an old SLR camera, you can use the filter again (provided your lens is the same filter size — or smaller with a step-up ring). Your lenses may work on the same body (though from what I’ve heard, be careful with Nikon lenses and do your research first). Your camera might take the same memory card too.
- Resolution: While this is often asked, this isn’t so heavily emphasized as most DSLR camera sensors are 6-megapixels or greater. This only is an issue if you’re printing out large-sized prints (and for a 6MP, this is large).
- Future upgrades: Think about the goals of your purchase and how this will factor in for a future investment. You might buy a camera that you’ll quickly outgrow, so give yourself some wiggle room.
- Other features: Think about other important features, including burst mode (shooting multiple images at a single shutter-release press), anti-shake (or image stabilization), LCD size, ISO ratings (think about the noise of that shot — or lack thereof), connectivity (to a printer or a wireless flash), and flash (built-in flashes don’t necessarily do it for you — consider a possible upgrade to a hot-shoe flash).
Of course, the writer goes ahead and recommends his favorite cameras after that — and they’re all Canon. As I’m not a Canon user, I will suggest the following Nikon cameras:
Nikon D80: This new release has beaten out the competition on numerous occasions. The 10.2 megapixel camera has made great strides with a great ergonomically friendly layout and superior handling, excellent image performance (even in low light conditions), and wireless flash capability. The D80 is a solid camera for the beginner or advanced shooter.
Nikon D200 which I own and is a perfect prosumer camera (but heck, it’s good enough for pros too). This 10.2 megapixel camera also handles very well and sports great performance but has improved features, including more buttons, allowing you to quickly activate certain features on the camera without having to access a menu within a menu. The viewfinder is bigger on the D200 and the LCD is even bigger than that. The body is metal (not plastic, like the D80 and its predecessor cameras). It is a solid camera that packs in a great feature set.