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Old May 20, 2009, 10:55 AM   #22
JohnG
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Join Date: Aug 2004
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Again - I will re-iterate, it is dangerous to make blanket statements. GOOD photography is about using the right tool for the job. As I mentioned earlier there are absolutely areas where the gap is still very wide.
1. Here's an ISO 6400 image from a DSLR. Show me a digicam that can produce this image at 6400 (the lesson being as digicams have improved high ISO, DSLRs have continued to improve it):


2. Shallow DOF. Like it or not, digicams are making no progress here - in fact they've gone a bit backwards. There used to be digicams with 2.0 aperture, not anymore. It's tough to find ones with 2.8. Sensor size and the related physical focal length size will always prevent digicams from getting shallow DOF. You can't have 'compact' lenses with narrow apertures and get shallow DOF. To get shallow DOF with superzooms and the like you need either a good amount of distance (so you can use more focal length) or a small subject. Whant shallow-dof with a human indoors? FORGET IT.


3. Focus tracking. While there have been some strides in this regard, there is still a VAST chasm between the focus tracking of a digicam and the focus tracking of a DSLR with quality focus tracking (Canon's, Nikon's D90 and above, Sony A700). Focusing on a non-moving subject is easy - it's the moving subjects that are difficult. See below or show me a digicam that can take that basketball photo above in the light conditions that shot was taken in.


4. Image quality. Yes, if you compare a DSLR with kit lens to a digicam for typical snapshots you'll notice no difference. But Tulio, have you ever used professional optics? For portrait, sports, wedding type work (even as a hobbyist) there is a VAST difference. And, talk to someone like Mark1616 or Peripatetic who have used a full frame sensor with pro optics. Is there a big difference between those results and digicams? YES.

5. Expandable. This goes to the 'right tool for the job' - you will ALWAYS get better results when you use a tool designed with a limited scope in mind vs. a 'jack of all trades'. This is true in DSLR world. The superzoom lenses are very convenient but the quality doesnt come close to what separate lenses can produce. Not close. The psuedo-macro capability (often 4:1) of general purpose lenses can't match what you get from a true 1:1 macro. The 18-200mm superzooms can't match what, say, a Canon 70-200 4.0IS or Sony 70-200 2.8 can produce. If all you've ever used is consumer grade glass then yes you won't see the quality I'm talking about.

BUT, and it's a big BUT all this comes at a cost - size, weight, price, inconvenience. Some people don't need the extra quality. If you're never going to shoot wildlife or sports you don't need to buy a camera that has great focus tracking. If you don't care about shallow DOF photography you don't need a camera/llens capable of it. If you don't need to shoot in situations where ISO 6400 is beneficial you don't need a camera capable of it.

What I will agree with is the line between top end digicam and bottom end DSLR with kit lens is getting blurred. BUT, with that bottom level DSLR you can build on it. You can buy a better lens. With a digicam you can't. I'm on my third dslr in the last 6 years. I have lenses that have lived through all 3. Every time you replace a digicam your entire investment goes down the drain. BUT this is a big reason why I question anyone that buys a DSLR for family/vacation use and doesn't want an external flash and only ever wants to use one lens. For those types of shooters, it doesn't make much sense. So, I'm not suggesting everyone buy a DSLR. It isn't always the right tool for the job. In many cases it's the wrong tool. But, a DSLR with the RIGHT lens/flash for the job is capable of results in certain situations digicams still can't approach touching. But I think there are a lot of people who bought DSLRs that would be better off with digicams. It's still just a tool and you need the right parts and the right knowledge to get that extra benefit from it.
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