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the*discerning*eye Nov 18, 2002 5:33 PM

Purchase a Digital SLR or just a Digital?
I would like to photograph interiors professionally (if I can get my act together) and want to purchase a digital camera. What are the advantages of purchasing an SLR digital vs just a regular digital? Is it the ability to change lenses? Should I go for maximum everything (pixels, optical zoom...etc..etc?)
Any camera recommendations?


padeye Nov 18, 2002 6:03 PM

Unfortunately you're going to find a serious limitation of most digicams and DLSRs, lack of really wide angle lenses. The Dimage 7 is one of the widest without an auxiliary lens at 28mm equivalent. That's not very wide at all. Except for some of the newest DLSRs you'll have to contend with a magnification factor that will make it impossible or expensive to get a very wide angle of view. Some of the newer offerings from Kodak and Canon have no mag factor but you'll need a big wheelbarrow full of money for one.

There are other issues in interior photography you may be overlooking, perspective control with extreme wide angles of view. If your film plane isn't parallel to the walls you are shooting things look distorted. It takes a lens with shifts and swings to correct it optically. My advice if you are serious is a film SLR with a perspective control lens or a 4x5 view camera.

the*discerning*eye Nov 18, 2002 7:46 PM

Thank you for your honest response. I am a 4x5 user and was hoping to move away from it for a number of reasons.
1. Clients don't want to pay for it, and most require digital output anyway.
2. Almost all shooters use it (too much competition)
3. Compared to 4x5, digital seems refreshingly clean

Perhaps I have to wait until the technology improves a bit for digital. :?

padeye Nov 18, 2002 9:57 PM

I think you understand the issues better than most. I shoot a Dimage 7 but have no illusions about its limitations. It has a fair amount of barrel distortion at widest angle. it can be corrected in post production but still. I'd like a DLSR but so far the ones I find acceptable are far too costly.

Your remark about digital seeming more clean than 4x5 is interesting. What digital are you comparing to what film?

Say, looking to dump any 4x5 equipment cheap? :D

the*discerning*eye Nov 18, 2002 10:14 PM

Clean was not a good choice of words. I meant : no cut film holders, no polaroid backs, no dark cloths, no film labs, no film period. Sort of appealing these days....

I'm 4x5 stuff.....I rent it.


gibsonpd3620 Nov 18, 2002 10:30 PM

Digital or DSLR, I wish I could have afforded a DSLR camera. I have enjoyed my C4040 and the instant feedback that the digital world provides. The ability to instantly see your photos should be very appealing for your profession. I would say to try to the digital road with one of good 5mp cameras. If you feel you need more then you can go the DSLR route. High end digital cameras have a good resale value on Ebay and other auction sites.

the*discerning*eye Nov 18, 2002 10:36 PM

That's what I was thinking. The DSLR's are still pricey and I may wait until the price drops a bit. Although, you are could pick up a good 5-6mp camera now and sell it later on Ebay.

What type of printer do you use? I am considering that new Epson 2200. (Can you tell?.....just can't spend it fast enough....) :oops:

gibsonpd3620 Nov 19, 2002 7:49 AM

I use the HP5550. It has the option of 4 color or 6 color printing. I refill my own cartridge to keep my cost down. Steve has rated the 2200 as one the top printers. The 2200 is about $700 and the HP5550 is available at $150. I also have no need to do printing over 8 1/2 X 11. If you have no need for wide carriage printing, then I would look at options other than the 2200.

BillDrew Nov 19, 2002 8:34 AM

How are your pictures being used? If they are for real-estate adverts on the web, pretty much any digicam will work for you. If they are being blown up to 40x50" and being presented to people who will look at them with a high powered loupe, nothing short of a high-end scanning back will work in digital. That gives you a price range between $300 and $30,000US. Sounds like you are at the high end of that range, so you really should be looking at the scanning back cameras more than digital SLRs.

With digital, the lifts and shifts (but not the tilts for focus) of a view camera can be dealt with in software. For the slickest way to do some of that, see one of Philo's tutorials at

One dirty little secret of digital is that you have to do your own "darkroom" work with a photo editor. So I'd suggest either getting several rolls of film cut to CD or buying a cheap digicam and spending some time learning how to use the photo editor and other photo software. When you have mastered that, you will have a much better idea of what you want in digicam, you will be ready to use it, and the prices will have come down.

the*discerning*eye Nov 19, 2002 10:15 AM

Bill, thanks for your response. I think your suggestions are good ones. Indeed I am learning to use Photoshop for the exact reason you mentioned. It seems you can never take a bad picture anymore using that software....amazing.

With the 4x5 (probably more due to my lack of ability than anything else) too many shots were unusable, a shoot took all day (hey, I'm not shooting for a Calvin Klein ad here) and again.....$$ is tight these days for just about everybody.

I hope to wait until the DSLR prices come down...and they will. Any particualr DSLR you like? :wink:

gibsonpd3620 Nov 19, 2002 10:50 AM

Based on some articles on this site, I would wait until Olympus and Kodak release their DSLR cameras before I would look for one.

sjms Nov 20, 2002 8:04 PM

well as far as the Dslr issues of the past such as magnification factor. the clock has run out on that one. the new crop of Dslrs are full frame type slr cameras

now if your going to invest in a digital camera either style that is just remenber that they're not like a good slr. the product value lasts as long as the next generation improves on the previous.

what is your tolerance for price?

how high a resolution do you want? reproduction quality?

do you want to use perspective correction lenses (Swings & Tilts)?

a D7 series type camera as mentioned above is a good camera it has currently the best built in wide angle lens available. it having the lowest values for angular distortion of the digicam lot. it may require some massaging of the image per your taste but offers probabley the most versitile digicam on the market as of the moment

the*discerning*eye Nov 20, 2002 11:49 PM

Is there a DSLR with swings and tilts? Dare I ask the price?

There is some price sensitivity, but I can go up to $2K. I am pursuing a business opportunity out of this. I weigh buying something now, like the Nikon D100 (which I plan to rent for the weekend) or just wait a bit longer to watch the technology improve with lower prices. At some point, however, one has to step into the ring.

You mentioned (as others have) the D7 due to its 28mm wide angle. I have a 28-200 lense already for a non-digital Nikon. Wouldn't this be the same if I put it on the D100?

thanks for your comments and thoughts. :shock:

BillDrew Nov 21, 2002 7:48 AM


Is there a DSLR with swings and tilts? Dare I ask the price?
There are shift lenses for SLRs, but I don't know of any with swings and tilts. Kinda a shame since with digital, you don't really need the shifts and lifts for perspective control, but the swings and tilts would be nice for focus at times. Of course you can get that with a digital back from or for something like $10k plus camera plus lenses plus ....

If you really need resolution, those are the ones to go for - some can shoot 350MPixel images.

sjms Nov 21, 2002 8:56 AM

your right. i incorrectly over stated on the swing and tilt. there was one it is gone now and it wasn't cheap. it is perspective control. the reliance of doing perspective control in PS rather than optically doesnt do it for me. its almost like taking a flat sheet of paper and pushing and pulling on. it it sometimes seems a little aritficial. but then thats just opinion. i really sort dispise the term-we'll fix it in the mix

the d100 has a smaller sensor so you have a magnification factor of 1.5. any lens you put on there woulld have cropped images since the sensor will see the central portion of the lens. your 28-200 will be the equivelent to a roughly a 42-300 better for sports not for interior work. its the same as puting a sheet of film about 2x3 into your 4x5. now a d100 image.

again if your going to the d100 and slap a 24mm on it your going to find a cropped 24 image equivalent at 36mm. you then have to invest in wider angle lenses to compensate. you have to buy a 16mm to get a 24mm. isn't this fun?

the new dcs 14n about $4750 now which by march 03 should be about $4400-4500 for the body will allow full use of your lenses at the designed focal values. shooting with a 20-35mm will be a pleasure again. renting a perspective lens and using it will be more natural. there are other advantages to this camera. 13+MP cmos sensor instead of a ccd. ERI-JPG allows for 2 stop corrections either way in post production. almost like working a print in a darkroom. again this is just opinion.

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