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Old Aug 12, 2011, 3:25 PM   #1
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Default SLR VS DSLR Was it Easier Back Then

I just purchased a Nikon D7000 and have been reading through the manual as well as many places on line about all the menus, settings, buttons, and more.

As I was reading through I started thinking back to my Canon F1 slr that I had for about 20 years. The only thing automatic on that camera was the self timer, once you set it. I loved that camera and was sad to see it go.

Since my camera did not do anything automatically I had to learn all about DOF, Focus, Film, Sunlight, Chemistry and so much more. I understand it is the photographer that makes or breaks the pictures but cameras have to somehow play a part.

So my question to myself was, with all the knobs, buttons and menus available today are we better off? Do all these things help us or hinder us?

Maybe no one thinks about this or even cares but I thought I would throw it out here and see if anyone has thought about this before. Surely there must be many people on this board that came from SLRs.

Any way have a great day.
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Old Aug 12, 2011, 3:37 PM   #2
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I think I'm much better off than during my film days.

I remember my boyfriend giving me a SLR for a gift (still am not sure why as I had been a p&s person up to then) and thinking how complicated it was. But as you did, I got a book and read about aperture, shutter speeds and such things. I remember being very intimidated by it all, but it soon became second nature and I didn't have to think about it that much.

Fast-forward to my first dSLR. I had a whole bunch of new things to learn and I remember being somewhat intimidated by it all. But I read the owners manual, asked questions on-line, read what others had to say about it all. Now most of it is second nature and I don't have to think about things all that much.

So its a wash as far as I'm concerned adjusting to my first SLR or adjusting to my first dSLR. I'm definitely better off - not having to pay for film and film processing has allowed me to experiment far more (there's always the delete key), instant feedback on the LCD tells me whether I'm on the right track or not, and having the exif information in the file is wonderful since I don't have to either guess what settings I used or keep a detailed logbook (tried that and I'm jsut hopeless at it). And some of the extra features on a dSLR camera like the D7000 are wonderful - things I could only dream about in my film days.
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Old Aug 12, 2011, 4:23 PM   #3
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I think we were better photographers for having to do it all ourselves. I thought it was the height of luxury when I got a Minolta SLR with a built in exposure meter. WOW! Quick as a wink, I could set the exposure to changing light conditions, while still looking through the viewfinder. I skipped all the later developments, such as motor drives, auto focus, and auto exposure, being quite happy with a camera I had spent over 30 years with.
Then came digital, and I played with many of the functions, and found I liked manipulating the pictures on a computer as well. My biggest complaint with digital is that it becomes too easy to let the camera do everything, and leaves one doing nothing more than holding it and pressing a button. I mostly resist the temptation, though, and keep mine set to entirely manual about 99% of the time. The only thing I miss out on is changing film and developing.

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Old Aug 12, 2011, 5:03 PM   #4
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I miss my view finder the most. And my DOF preview second Then we could talk lenses.

The expense is whats killing me.

I went strait from a manual focus manual everything system to a dSLR.
My 30 and 50 y/o SLR's still work dSLR's need replaced every few years. Getting a new camera meant upgrading software.
My old lenses can still be used but with a crop factor (which makes my favorite lens an ultr-wide paper weight) and I need to upgrade to a more expensive camera to use the meter with them. (I still carry an incident meter)

Back in the day DOF preview was a basic feature. if you wanted a motor drive you bought is separately months maybe years after you bought the camera. Now if you want a DOF preview you also have to pay for a high burst rate and other features you may or may not want/need.

I love digital. It's great to be able to edit my photos minutes after I take them. And to have the control rather than relying on a lab. But my Nikon FM is still my favorite camera.
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Old Aug 12, 2011, 5:06 PM   #5
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G'day Dig

Yes mate - today's kit has so many options "chucked in for free" that it makes our film SLRs look somewhat dinosaur-like...
My first digital was a Fuji S5000 with 14x zoom [40-560mm equiv] + all the SLR-like features & controls

It absolutely out-shone all my film SLRs that [back in 2004] after using it for 3 months, I donated all my old film SLRs to the local college for students' use ... 2x camera bodies + 5 lenses from 24mm to 1000mm + all sorts of attachments. In other words, this new Fuji could do it all, and in one camera body, and I was using all of the P-A-S-M features + motor-drive [burst] WB + etc etc etc that I never had before

It most certainly was a 'wow-that's great' sort of reaction ... got used to it today though

The greatest disappointment I have today is with the industry's rush to squash more pixels into the sensor causing untold 'image-damage' from noise
My original Fuji showed no noise whatever - I still today critically look at those images for noise & I cannot see it ... but by Panny FZ35 at 12mpx is chock-full of noise and is almost unusable over ISO-200

Regards, Phil
Has Lumix mirrorless & superzoom cameras and loves their amazing capabilities
Spends 8-9 months each year travelling Australia
Recent images at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ozzie_traveller/sets/
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Old Aug 12, 2011, 6:12 PM   #6
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Things are much better now! Over the years I progressed from a Minolta SRT101, Minolta X570, Nikon Coolpix 5700, Nikon D70s finally to a Nikon D300 and each step was an improvment.

Matrix metering allows for better exposures than before.

White balance control means getting the colours right for the lighting.

Autofocus is much faster and more accurate than I ever was expecially now as I get older.

Burst mode has allowed me to capture action shots of Stellar sealions squabbling over a buoy, knights jousting on horseback, my grandson at gymnastics class.

TTL flash metering gets the exposure on the first try. No more guessing the distance then calculating the exposure. The flash control system gives me studio results on a budget.

The instant feedback of the LCD is priceless. It's oops I goofed so shoot again right away instead of waiting for the film to be processed.

I've finally broken the 25 cent a frame mindset and am not inhibited to try new angles or points of view. I no longer have to wait to finish a 24 or 36 exposure roll to see my photos.

The lenses I use now are much better than the lenses I used in the film days.

Post processing is now odorless and more environmentally sensitive compared to when I had a B&W darkroom. It no longer hides you from family and friends and can be put on hold for meals and breaks instead of monopolizing the bathroom. The WYSIWYG feedback of the editor allows you to nail the image adjustments then make as many identical copies as you need.
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Old Aug 13, 2011, 12:20 AM   #7
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It was easier back in the SLR days when I was much younger and can see better through my Mamiya Sekor SLR view finder. I taught myself to manual focus very fast. I was selective and careful in shooting since film was expensive for a poor young guy. I didn't experiment very much.

DSLR may provide instant feedback but there is so many more variables and options to set. They make this old head spin.
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Old Aug 13, 2011, 1:32 AM   #8
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For me, it's a toss-up...

I still miss my SLRs (like Bob, I had a Minolta SRT-101 and Minolta X-570) as it has only been about five years since their demise.

To me, using an SLR and film to take a photo is a very sensual experience. There's something about turning the ring at the back of the lens to select the aperture, turning the focus ring, and turning the shutter speed ring that was all so sensory! Not to mention using the mirror lock-up (which my T3 does not have) and the old cable release... Then there's waiting for the negatives to be developed and its inherent anticipation... Film SLRs are quite romantic, indeed.

The things that I really like about the dSLRs are quite similar to what mtngal said: instant feedback allows for more experimentation; cost savings with not having to buy film or pay for getting negatives processed; and having EXIF data available therefore not having to keep a log book (I did keep very good notes, when I was first learning, until it became second nature). It's also nice to not have to worry about the quality of my scanner, because I'm putting the images directly into my computer. Another thing I really like is continuous shooting mode (with a cable release) for long exposures; it's nice not worrying about reciprocity!

I'm also in the same boat as tjsnaps... Back in my film days, photography was an expensive hobby, but it wasn't an out-of-reach hobby; now it is, and I find it rather disheartening. I still have the passion, but not the means for the outlet!

Well, all-in-all, I'd say that digital outweighs film... But, I still can't help but wax nostalgic about my film SLRs.
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Old Aug 15, 2011, 11:05 AM   #9
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Digital is great fun with wonderful IQ but I still miss my SLR and twin lens cameras. The old cameras made you think more about what you were doing up front, not what you could fix in PP.
Comments always welcome.
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Old Aug 15, 2011, 1:40 PM   #10
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For me, it's 2 different subjects:

Film helped enforce the LEARNING process of photography more. So I think people brought up in film became more knowledgeable photographers than today's digital crowd.

But, no way was film "easier". By and large, the DSLR is the much better tool. In the hands of a competent photographer, I believe that tool allows the photographer to create much better photographs, much easier than in film days. I really don't miss the time working with chemicals finding out I blew a shot and having to rely on whether or not I jotted down settings in my notebook to figure out what settings I used. Nope. Sorry, don't miss it at all. Yes, the tool was less complex when everything was manual. But if you look at film SLRs with metering and AF and motor drive, today's DSLRs don't have to be more complicated. If you ignore the bells and whistles, the only real thing more complex now than with film is the concept of white balance. Just my 2 cents, but I enjoy the digital age much more now. In fact, I just completed a 50 page photo book from my vacation last week. Man, that sure beats huge old photo albums with pictures slipping out over the years. I'll take a 3/4 inch photo book any day over 4 inches of album and fading pictures - 1/2 of which were out of focus or exposure incorrect because you just didn't have time to get it right. Definitely a much better end product.
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