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Old Oct 3, 2005, 5:25 AM   #1
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I am having a really hard time choosing between a high end prosumer and an amateur SLR (350D or D70). There is a motoring event coming up in 3 weeks and I am wanting to take the best photos possible, something I believe my current camera (Kodak CX7530) won't allow me to do.

My problem is that I don't know if 3 weeks will be enough for me to learn how to use a SLR properly. Some of the things I have been reading about SLRs such as the dust and sharpness problems are also starting to put me off. And if choosing a SLR wasn't already hard enough - there are so many lenses!:-?

One thing I don't want to happen is me purchasing a high end prosumer and then deciding that I really wanted a SLR instead.

So what do you believe would be the best for me?

Thanks for the help
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Old Oct 3, 2005, 7:49 AM   #2
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I don't think you'd be disappointed with the quality of pictures you'd get, but three weeks or less to learn how to best use it would probably depend on how much available time you have to practice.
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Old Oct 3, 2005, 8:39 AM   #3
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I'm probably a slower learner than most, but I couldn't learn to use a new P&S in three weeks. The camera that you have is not a bad P&S, although it lacks big zoom. Is that what you're looking for with a new camera?

It takes a long time to decide on a new camera once you decide which KIND of camera you are looking for. Given that you are still trying to decide between an SLR and a P&S, I would suggest that you think about possibly using your current camera for the upcoming race and take your time deciding what you are interested in for the long haul. At the very least, if you bring a brand new camera with you, also bring your old one. Take pix with both, so you're assured that you won't end up with a bunch of photos that are worse than you used to get.

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Old Oct 3, 2005, 11:28 AM   #4
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Given that I've gone through the progression and have the same kind of subject interest I thought I'd share my experience too. I too had the need to upgrade from a more basic P&S(Canon Powershot A20) to one with more zoom capability.2 years ago I went for the Minolta DiMAGE Z1, one of the earlier model of the Prosumer big zoom grade. I was very happy with my Z1 during that time and I do not regret buying it. Recently due to my University co-op placement and the income it brings I decided to buy a DSLR. The cost is definitely steep as in SLR you need to get the right lens as well as the body to suit your purpose. I think in total so far I've spent about 1800 CAD for a Minolta 5D+Kit Lens, a used 70-210mm Zoom(which with crop factor matches my Z1), a 1GB CF card, an extra Batt, and a SLR bag. The shooting experience in SLR is quite amazing, with most Prosumer opting for Electronic View Finder the pic you are looking at are not necessarily that clear IMO, Optical view finder is sharp and lag-free. The shutter lag that one experienced in most P&S camera is non-existant(though I've heard film SLR is still faster). And due to the higher quality optics the pic I think are more vibrant. Although I am sure the new generation of the Prosumer are probably way more capable than my Z1, I think with SLR you get more out of your money(and money to put in later) and the camera upgrades with the user's ability.

Small comparison...

Z1: http://www.fsae.utoronto.ca/2002/lar...4shoot-008.jpg

Resized 5D:

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Old Oct 4, 2005, 8:42 AM   #5
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Thanks for the help so far!

I have done much research about different cameras and had a long think about what I really want today - a SLR. :G

At the moment I am leaning towards the D70s with the standard 18-70mm lens and an additional telephoto lens. I will go to a camera store in the next few days and see what camera feels most comfortable and easy to use - probably the most important factors.

If you still have any recommendations, please add them.

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Old Oct 4, 2005, 8:52 AM   #6
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There are pros and cons to either solution. Here are a few:

LCD Framing: unlike a consumer (or "prosumer") camera, the LCD can't be used for framing on a DSLR. But, you have a true Through the lens (TTL) view through a good optical viewfinder that is usuallysuperior.

Lens Cost: To get the same focal range you can find in a consumer level (non-DSLR) camera, you often have to spend much more money, especially to get lenses that are as "fast" (widest apertures available at wide angle and longer focal lengh settings). To get all the features (macro performance, zoom range, etc.), you must often purchase more than one lens, too.

Camera Size/Weight: Because of the larger sensors used in most Digital SLR cameras, the lenses also have to be larger and heavier for the same focal ranges/light gathering ability.

Sensor Cleaning: When you swap lenses, you risk dust getting in the camera.

On the other hand, I've seen dust problems reported with non-DSLR models, too(the lens mechanisms are often not tight enough to prevent dust from being "sucked in,and when that happens,the camera often requires a trip back to themanufacturer, versus cleaningaDSLR yourself).

Features: youdon't get the "bells, whistles and buzzers" found on a consumer model in a DSLR (i.e., panaroma modes, movie modes, etc.).

A Few Advantages to a Digital SLR:

A true "Through the Lens Optical Viewfinder"

Better Dynamic Range -- again, this is mostly due to the much larger sensor being used. That's my opinion looking at images anyway (especially when you look at some of the newer higher megapixel non-DSLR models). But,I haven't seen accurate measurements of this yet.

Ability to Shoot at Higher ISO speeds with lower noise. DSLR's have much larger sensors, with better signal to noise ratios as CCD sensitivity is amplifed for higher ISO speeds. Often, a DSLR is the only tool that will work well for indoor sports, and other conditions requiring the ability to shoot at higher ISO speeds.Some of these models allow usable prints at up to ISO 1600 or even more (allowing shutter speeds up to 16 times as fast oreven more, compared toISO 100 for the same aperture and lighting).

Fast Focus Speeds -- Most Digital SLR's use a Phase Detection Focus System which is extremely fast. Most Consumer Grade Cameras use a Contrast Detection Focus System, which is reliant on seeing enough contrast in the live feed being sent by the sensor.

Ability to Control Depth of Field - The smaller sensors used in a Consumer Grade Camera limit your ability to control Depth of Field (blur backgrounds by using wider apertures). This is because Depth of Field is based on the Actual (versus 35mm) equivalent focal length of the lens (and a much shorter focal length lens can be used on a consumer model, to get the same equivalent focal length in a DSLR) because of it's tiny sensor).

Of course, some users may not care about blurring backgrounds for effect, and may like the greater DOF (more of a photo in focus) a non-DSLR camera would have at a given 35mm equivalent focal length/aperture/focus distance, too. So, depending on your perspective, this could be looked at as an advantage, or a disadvantage to a DSLR.

Lenses become an investment - With a Digital SLR, when you upgrade your camera body later, you can take your lenses with you within the same manufacturer. With a consumer grade camera, the lenses are permanently attached.

Speed of Writes - The processors used in most Digital SLR's are muchfaster than the processors used in consumer grade cameras. The buffer size (amount of very fast internal memory acting as cache) isusually much larger, too. As a result the camera's overall operation is usually much faster.

A few other comments:

It's been my experience that the larger and heavier the camera, the more likely you'll leave it at home.

Both types of cameras can be great for many users. Some users have both (a compact consumer model good for most shooting situations, that is much easier to carry); as well as a Digital SLR (with multiple lenses) for other applications requiring the benefits of a DSLR.

There are pros and cons to both approaches, and no one solution is going to be perfect for every user in all conditions.

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