It’s time for a new digital camera, and point and shoot is so 1998.
I’ve been considering moving into the world of digital SLR for some time now. Though consumer level cameras have improved quite a bit since I was last in the market for one, and though my last camera (Canon A40) was really quite good at the time for what it was, my mounting frustration at its limited manual settings means it’s not used much anymore. I became a little too proficient at taking mediocre photos.
The idea of an ultra-compact, feature-filled consumer camera was appealing when Mike Davidson wrote about his Casio a few months back. Lugging a full-size camera around when there are such tiny alternatives feels a little archaic. And with the high end consumer models hitting the 7 and 8 megapixel range, the resolution is almost the same anyway.
So why an SLR, despite that? There are a few potential reasons offhand, although I’m still doing my research on this one.
- Image quality. We’ll start with the obvious point that an SLR’s core strength is the ability to ‘see through’ the camera. An LCD viewfinder is nice, but I’ll happily trade it for accuracy. Though it’s possible to achieve depth of field in some form or another with a consumer camera, I’ve found the results are generally disappointing at best. (Your milage may vary.) A higher ISO rating means better shots in low light. And the ability to shoot in RAW mode is something that strikes me as important, though I have yet to actually do so.
- Lenses. Telephoto, Wide-angle, Macro, etc. And with a few other locals to pool ‘em with for more choice, all the better.
- Speed. 3 to 5 FPS shooting? Holy moly. I currently get 5 SPF, if I’m lucky.
It seems to come down to a choice of quality over quantity. Yep, you’ll probably take a lot more photos with a consumer level camera because you’ll have it with you more often. But they probably won’t look as nice as the ones you’ve shot with an SLR. Luckily, it’s not an either-or choice for me as I already have a point and shoot camera, so the case for going with quality is looking awfully compelling.
Presuming I go this route, I’d be curious to hear about the experience of other SLR owners out there. I have a particular manufacturer and a few models in mind, but I won’t mention those just yet in favour of hearing about actual first-hand experience.
I’m also curious about photo management when dealing with such large files. iPhoto, I’m quite certain, just won’t cut it. What kind of software should I be looking into for organizing and cataloguing? Presumably I’ll also be looking into a large chunk of Flash or SD memory, but then there’s the issue of longer term storage. DVD vs. a dedicated external hard drive seems likely to be the main choice, and I’d imagine a decent catalogue application could handle either. But that’s just a guess.