Steve's Digicams Forums

Steve's Digicams Forums (
-   What Camera Should I Buy? (
-   -   Should I buy a DSLR? (

danij Dec 13, 2010 9:37 AM

Should I buy a DSLR?
I've wanted to buy a DSLR camera for a while now. I really don't know anything about how to use them but I was planning on signing up for a class locally and learning because I am dying to get into photography. However, I am starting to have second thoughts and am not sure a DSLR is right for me. I would be buying the Canon Rebel T2i and I recently learned that the lens it comes with can only zoom what would be the equivalent of 3x in a point and shoot. My point and shoot right now has a 12x zoom, and I really can't imagine having a camera that doesn't zoom at least 10x. I looked into other lenses that have more of a zoom and they are fairly expensive. I enjoy taking pictures of nature, so would it be pointless for me to buy a DSLR if I can't even get close enough to get a good picture?

TCav Dec 13, 2010 9:51 AM

Your choice of camera and you choice of lens is determined by what you want to take photos of. If you want to take landscape shots, the lens that comes with the T2i might not be wide enough. If you want to take portraits, it might not be long enough. and if you want to shoot birds in flight, it's definately not long enough.

A dSLR is much more demanding of its lens than a P&S is, so the lenses are bigger and heavier, they're more expensive, and for the most part, they're much more specialized, and the ones that aren't tend not to be very good at anything. The 18-55mm kit lens that comes with the T2i is a very good lens for what it does (casual photography, environmental portraits, etc.), but if you've got something else in mind, you'll probably need another lens, and possibly even a different camera.

In order for us to help you out with that, we need to know what you've got in mind.

mtclimber Dec 13, 2010 10:01 AM


Why not take the proposed photography class and then see where you feelings stand. As an Instructor, I have found that many folks, as they learn more about photography, do indeed modify or somewhat change their goals, and the kind of camera they prefer to shoot with on a variety of subjects.

Sarah Joyce

danij Dec 13, 2010 10:07 AM

Thank you all for your advice. I'm very new to the DSLR world and really have not learned enough about lenses to know which ones I would need. But I basically enjoy taking pictures of everything from landscape to animals and flowers to sporting events, etc. I guess I was just surprised to learn that such a huge lens has such a little zoom. I assumed that even the worst DSLR lens would be able to zoom more than a point and shoot just because of the size. I know I could go with one of those super zoom cameras like the Canon SX30IS but then I think I would be giving up a lot of image quality.

TCav Dec 13, 2010 10:26 AM

The difference between a dSLR and a P&S is the quality of the image and the capabilities of the camera, just as the difference between a P&S and a cell phone camera is.

A major part of the flexibility of dSLRs is the "interchangeable lens" part. Because of the larger image sensor, the lens elements need to larger also. And, as with any product, the more things you want a lens to do, the less able it is to do all of them well. In that respect, P&S cameras are more capable than dSLRs.

danij Dec 13, 2010 10:36 AM

Okay this is starting to make more sense now. So which lens is best for what? What lens would I use to take landscape shots and what lens would I use to take close ups of animals at the zoo? I'm just trying to figure out how many different lenses I would need.

JohnG Dec 13, 2010 10:41 AM

Some good advice and information here. The biggest thing to understand - a DSLR is NOT a magic point-and-shoot. It's a modular system. There is no single lens that lets you do everything. Manufacturers do make "superzoom" lenses like the Tamron 18-270mm lens. But you have to realize when they make those lenses they have to make a lot of compromises in quality. So, you get the convenience of a big zoom but the overall quality suffers. It's also true that as you move up the "chain" of quality in photos each step requires often exponentially more money.
For example in Canon lineup:
You can often get the cheap 75-300mm lens for $180 or so. It's not very sharp and slow to focus.
For a few more $$$ you can get the 55-250 - it's sharper and a bit faster to focus (but not as long at 250mm vs. 300).
You can then step up again to the 70-300 (non-L version) and you get even more sharp and faster focus - now the price is $560 though.
Want even sharper and faster to focus? And sturdy metal construction instead of plastic? The 70-200 f4L (non-IS) sells for aound the same price - but you only get 200mm instead of 300. But you get better design, sharper AND you get extremely fast focus AND a better 'aperture' (f4 vs. 5.6) - which lets you use faster shutter speeds (and blur the background more).

The point is - a SYSTEM gives you plenty of options. But it's not an out-of-the-box solution like a digicam is. AND, depending on what you shoot and how you use the photos you may very well be better off with a superzoom. As an example - if you like to take photos of small birds in trees / birdfeeders - you need a lot of focal length for that. Modern superzooms do a wonderful job - to match the quality from the same distance can get VERY expensive for a DSLR solution.

JohnG Dec 13, 2010 10:43 AM


Originally Posted by danij (Post 1177735)
Okay this is starting to make more sense now. So which lens is best for what? What lens would I use to take landscape shots and what lens would I use to take close ups of animals at the zoo? I'm just trying to figure out how many different lenses I would need.

For landscape shots - use the kit lens that comes with the camera. For animals at the zoo it really depends on the zoo in question and how close you are. The lens most often sold in conjuncture with a Canon DSLR is the 55-250mm. That will do well for a number of zoo shots unless you're far away from the animals.

danij Dec 13, 2010 10:50 AM

Thank you. I guess I've got a lot to think about. I love the idea of having a DSLR but I never realized that it is almost impossible to take shots from very far away without spending a significant amount of money. I know that not all of my pictures will require a zoom but I do like to be able to have the option. Can anyone tell me what the difference in image quality would be between say the Canon Powershot SX30IS or something similar and a regular point and shoot? and also between a super zoom and a DSLR?

mtclimber Dec 13, 2010 12:39 PM


In very good lighting the difference between an entry level DSLR camera and a super zoom camera, like the SX-30 will be there, but it is not overwhelming. It is when the light level within the photo environment falls that the DSLR will pull ahead and have substantially better IQ than the super zoom like the SX-30.

The reason for this is the imager size. The SX-30 uses a 1/2.33" size imager. The imager used in most entry level DSLR cameras is 15X to 20X greater in size. The greater imager size is one of the trump cards of the DSLR type camera.

By the way the size of the imager dictates the size of the lens used. Therefore if you compare even the Kit Lens on a DSLR camera to a super zoom, that lens will be measurably larger.

Generally speaking the performance of the average DSLR camera will exceed a super zoom camera, and as the light level for taking photos decreases, that performance difference will become greater and greater.

Sarah Joyce

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 4:43 PM.