The rise of social networking on the internet has lead to the incredible improvement in the quality of photographs (or video) that can be taken on mobile phones and other compact (point and shoot cameras). Mega pixels abound! No matter how good these are there comes a moment that the semi-serious photographer will ask whether they should move from a compact to a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera.
In the DSLR design the image captured on the camera’s large image sensor (or CCD) is also the image that is seen through the view finder. Light travels in through the lens and a mirror is used to reflect that light to the view finder – hence the name Single Lens Reflex.
But of course the complexity of the design brings cost and before buying one, you will naturally need to consider a number of things about how you want to use your camera and the results you want to achieve before taking the plunge into the serious world of DSLR.
Image Quality – the main selling point for most professionals is the sharpness and quality of the image. This is particularly important if you want to either enlarge or to crop down to part of the photo. The combination of mega pixels, a large image sensor (the CCD) and fast shutter speeds in DSLRs usually leads to a less grainy or ‘speckly’ result.
Adaptability – the ability to change lenses opens up a world of possibilities for photographers. While a compact might have a nice 3x Optical Zoom it will be limited in its range. If you want the ability to move say between a close up to a landscape a DSLR can be fitted with lenses ranging from wide angle to super long focal lengths. Remember though the quality of the lens is important and that longer lenses are better used with a tripod for steadiness and factor this into your budget too!
Depth of Field – one of the things that can make a real difference in your photography is control over the depth of fields. Again the range in a compact will be relatively limited and the images can look a little ‘flat’. If you want the versatility to move almost instantly from a photo that that puts everything from foreground to background in focus through to a sharp foreground with a nice blurry background then the controls on DSLR will do this.
An argument (a justification?) to defray the outlay is that some argue that a DSLR will hold its value longer than a point and shoot. There is probably some truth in this but DSLR models like cars and golf clubs do tend to be upgraded at times. However if the lenses you buy for them are compatible with other camera bodies you upgrade to later then your investment in lenses is not a wasted.
If you search online for a digital camera review site you will find hundreds – and thousands of cameras. We hope that the basic points above might be helpful in choosing one.
If you find one and take some nice crisp photos then why not send a print to Edinburgh South West. We would be pleased to include local views in a Reader’s Gallery in future editions of the magazine.