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Old Sep 22, 2006, 2:36 AM   #1
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I have been torn judging the practical value of a DSLR and a regular point to shoot.
My question is, " is there much difference in picture quality between a picture taken with the Nikkon D50 Automatic mode verses a point to shoot like the Canon PowerShot Pro S3 IS 6MP Automatic mode?

I am not that educated with cameras but basically want a camera that takes vivid clear pictures with great detail.


thanks!

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Old Sep 22, 2006, 7:59 AM   #2
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The answer is: it depends.

In perfect lighting conditions, taking a standard vacation or family function photo you'd be hard pressed to notice a difference between photos taken from each camera.

What a DSLR provides is the ability to take those same quality photos in more difficult conditions (low light, action, wider angle or further distance, etc.)

Some of the features any DSLR will provide over a digicam:
  • Larger Sensor (not necessarily more megapixels but larger sensor) which means less digital noise. Which also means you can shoot at much higher ISO values and still get very usable shots (higher ISO allows you to take photos in lower light conditions). The ISO 1600 performance of some DSLRs is similar to the ISO 200 performance of many digicams.[/*]
  • Instant-On - nice feature - less than a second start up[/*]
  • Much faster focusing and less shutter lag (that annoying time between when you press the button and when the picture is actually taken)[/*]
  • Better burst rates and buffer handling - this iss a key feature for sports and wildlife photographers - more photos per second and longer bursts of photos than digicams will provide.[/*]
  • Ability to change lenses - to some this is a downside but it allows you to use a lens specifically designed for a certain type of photo. Digicam lenses are jacks-of-all-trades - good at a wide variety of shots but not great at any. Want to shoot extremely wide angle - you can put a 10mm lens on a DSLR. Want to shoot very far away - you can put a 400mm, 500mm or 600mm lens on - and you can add teleconverters multiplying that range by 1.4x or 2x. Want t do maco work - you can use a variety of lenses designed specifically for the task. Want to shoot in low light - you can put a f1.4 lens on (1.4 speaks to the aperture of the lens - how wide open the 'iris' of the lens opens - the wider it opens the more light gets in - which means you get higher shutter speeds in low light than lenses without a wide opening) - the lower the f-stop the wider the aperture - f1.8 has a wider aperture than f4.0[/*]
  • The ability to blur the background - this is primarily a benefit of sensor size - but also aided greatly by the ability to use wide apeture lenses. For portrait, sports and wildlife photographers this is a huge benefit. Think of your newspaper's sports page - look at one of the photos of a game - the player is perfectly clear but the background is all blurred. The sensor size and lenses available to a DSLR give this benefit that digicams can't yet match.[/*]
  • Ability to use external flashes - I can't remember if your digicam has a hot-shoe to attach a flash to. Some prosumer digicams do. This is a huge benefit because the built in flashes in cameras (even the built ins on the DSLRs) are really very weak - being able to use an external flash is a huge bonus.
[/*]


But there are a lot of drawbacks

  • DSLRs are bigger and heavier which makes them prone to being left at home.[/*]
  • you have to buy multliple lenses - it's a benefit and a curse. Photo quality is directly related to the lens used. Cheap all purpose lenses will show more photo defects than better built (and more expensive) lenses - especially when you get into long range (telephoto lenses)[/*]
  • DSLRs (except for 1 or 2) require you to use the viewfinder to compose your photo - you can't use a live LCD screen. There are a couple that have implemented this feature (Olympus I believe has one).[/*]
  • DSLRs reruire more attention when focusing. I mentioned above that DSLRs provide a better ability to blur the background. Well this also means you have to be more careful when focusing your camera than with a digicam. If not, you end up with a perfectly clear tree behind your subject and your subject is blurred. It's not difficult at all - but it's just something you have to pay attention to that wasn't as much of a concern with a digicam.[/*]
  • DSLRs are much more expensive - especially since buying the camera is often the least expensive portion of it - the cost of lenses often ends up easily outpricing the body cost. You don't HAVE to buy more lenses but typically as people get more involved in the hobby they refine their interest and they start requiring better results - especiially when they see the results of folks here in the forums. For instance if you develop a passion for wildlife photography you soon find that there is no such thing as too much reach (i.e. no lens is too long) so you start to want longer and longer lenses with better quality optics.
[/*]
Finally let me say this: A DSLR is NOT a magic box. Many people buy one expecting the camera to do everything - they DONT DSLRs have automatic modes just like your digicam - but you won't achieve the true benefits using the automatic modes. To get really good shots consistantly (with a digicam or DSLR) you have to learn photography - including exposure, depth of field, etc. So, what I'm saying is: if you shoot a photo with your digicam and the highlights are all blown out (sky is white and washed out and your subject is still dark) - you'll likely get the same poor shot using a DSLR. Or, take my area - sports. I've run into people that spend a lot of money on a DSLR wanting to take photos of their son playing HS football - only to realize the photos they take on their new $1000 DSLR are still bad. Why? Because the DSLR is still a tool - and it requires skill to use. The other night at a soccer game I was shooting I spoke with a parent that had a brand new Canon 30D ($1300 camera). His quote was "I don't even know how to use this thing". That's a great camera he's got there - but until he learns how to use it, he's still going to have really bad shots at a night high school soccer game.

Think of it like this: I drive an automatic transmission. About 15 years ago I learned to drive stick but never owned a stick shift car. If you put me in a Porsche 911 with stick shift and put a seasoned race driver in a Honda Civic and we race - who is going to win? Maybe I'll make it to the finish line without wrecking (although I bet I'll stall the car once or twice :G). So, just having the fancy car only does me so much good - if I want to put the work in to learning how to operate this fine machine I can get some stunning results. But if not, then the Porsche may be more trouble than it's worth - the Honda Civic, while not capable of matching the performance of the 911 in the end might be a better fit for me.

And, did I mention the size/weight? Don't underestimate this. A camera is only good if you've got it with you when you need it.
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Old Sep 22, 2006, 9:19 AM   #3
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excellent post...Thnx John.
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Old Sep 22, 2006, 10:20 AM   #4
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thanks! that really helped!
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Old Sep 26, 2006, 2:15 AM   #5
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lostsoul wrote:
Quote:
I have been torn judging the practical value of a DSLR and a regular point to shoot.
My question is, " is there much difference in picture quality between a picture taken with the Nikkon D50 Automatic mode verses a point to shoot like the Canon PowerShot Pro S3 IS 6MP Automatic mode?

I am not that educated with cameras but basically want a camera that takes vivid clear pictures with great detail.


thanks!

There is a huge difference between DSLR and P&S pictures. The reason boils down to the fact that the lens is the camera. A good lens costs more than a good DSLR. Good lenses give the sensor something worth writing down.Poetry isn't about the pencil.

That said, DSLRs are mostly worthless unless you are getting paid to be somewhere.To do a DSLR right you'll neednicepiece of luggage,several lenses, two wireless flashes, a couple of 4GB cards, preferably a mono or tripod, a fairly expensive computer and software suite, minimum of a 250 GB secondary hard drive, a DVD writer for backup, maybe add a laptop, and good insurance.

Agood test to see if you would like a DSLR systemmight be totie amedium size cinder block around your neckat the next outing when you think you mightwant to take pictures.To simulate a good lens on an average body with a usable flashit should weigh about 5 pounds and prevent you from sitting at a table. Bring it with you in small to medium carry-on luggage.


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Old Sep 26, 2006, 2:54 AM   #6
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Or you could just leave a decent zoom fitted and put your camera in your backpack. Doesn't weigh much more than a hardback novel or two.
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Old Sep 26, 2006, 6:45 AM   #7
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SigmaSD9 wrote:
Quote:
lostsoul wrote:
Quote:
I have been torn judging the practical value of a DSLR and a regular point to shoot.
My question is, " is there much difference in picture quality between a picture taken with the Nikkon D50 Automatic mode verses a point to shoot like the Canon PowerShot Pro S3 IS 6MP Automatic mode?

I am not that educated with cameras but basically want a camera that takes vivid clear pictures with great detail.


thanks!

There is a huge difference between DSLR and P&S pictures. The reason boils down to the fact that the lens is the camera. A good lens costs more than a good DSLR. Good lenses give the sensor something worth writing down.Poetry isn't about the pencil.

That said, DSLRs are mostly worthless unless you are getting paid to be somewhere.To do a DSLR right you'll neednicepiece of luggage,several lenses, two wireless flashes, a couple of 4GB cards, preferably a mono or tripod, a fairly expensive computer and software suite, minimum of a 250 GB secondary hard drive, a DVD writer for backup, maybe add a laptop, and good insurance.

Agood test to see if you would like a DSLR systemmight be totie amedium size cinder block around your neckat the next outing when you think you mightwant to take pictures.To simulate a good lens on an average body with a usable flashit should weigh about 5 pounds and prevent you from sitting at a table. Bring it with you in small to medium carry-on luggage.

Are you trying to say that you have to have all that fancy equipment to "do a DSLR right"?

Give anyone all that stuff. It doesn't mean they'll bring out the potential of a dSLR. You need to learn a lot about the equipment and some techniques in whatever area of photography you're interested in.

But most important of all, for a person that doesn't get paid for their photos (like me), you need to have fun. If you aren't having fun, your pictures will not be good (This includes the people that get paid for their photos). And having fun doesn't mean squeezing pennies out of every nook and cranny.

When I was in the realm of P&S, I took mostly candids. I enjoyed my pictures, but I hated the unnatural exposure due to the built in flash. I got the XT and a fast prime and it solved my problem. But during the time, I developed an interest in portrait photography. A lot of the shots done on my dSLR cannot be done on a P&S (especially in regards to DOF).

Yes, the realm of the dSLR is expensive, and I don't get paid for it, and I don't have 4 gb of memory or a powerful computer or a laptop or 250gb hdd or 2 flashes (saving up for another flash, though ), but you what? I don't regret getting a dSLR.
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Old Sep 26, 2006, 1:40 PM   #8
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glad i'm not the only one who thought that post was wayyyyy over the top! sounds like a guy at my work who is just jealous (of me)...any old fool can go out and get a nice dslr for way less that what HE had paid 2-3 years ago. probably paid a couple grand for a canon whatever it is he has. i paid $367 for my pentax *istDL and it takes great photos, especially with the 50mm f1.7 pentax lens i picked up at a local shop for $30!

as far as file storage goes...in the field (i.e. vacation!) i have a usb-host mp3 player which i use to transfer files directly from the SD card through a card reader. a $20 512mb car suffices for me...i'm not really in many situations where 300+ photographs isn't going to be enough anyways. i then store a couple of gigs of images on our PC, and create 2 archival DVD-rs for permanent storage purposes when enough images are stored.

even the cheapest dslr lenses will vastly outperform all but the best p&s cameras, at least thats what i've found.

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Old Sep 26, 2006, 2:13 PM   #9
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As someone who just recently got his first DSLR, allow me to bring up a few points. When I first opened the box and removed my beautiful new camera, my very first thought was, "Holy Cow! This thing weighs a ton!". And my camera is one of the lighter DSLRs available (Pentax K100D). If you are used to point & shoot or even super-zoom digicams like I was, the weight of a DSLR is something to get used to.

Another issue with DSLRs is the whole "dust on the sensor" thing. It can be a hassle, but easy enough to deal with.

Then there is the issue of expense. If you buy a good digicam that fits your needs, you're basically done spending with the exception of a bag, batteries and a memory card. With a DSLR you are NEVER done spending. There will always be bags, lenses, filters, flashes, new bags (because you added more lenses)....and the list goes on and on.

It sounds like I'm trying to talk you out of a DSLR...doesn't it? On the contrary. I LOVE my DSLR and I'm very glad I made the jump. But a big part of why is in my personality. If I thought I would be happy with another super-zoom digicam, I would have gotten one. But I knew that I would always have it in the back of my mind that I really want a DSLR. I'm looking forward to the whole process as a hobby, not just snapping a nice picture. Wether or not a DSLR is right for you is something only you can decide. Just be aware that it is very different. Good luck in your decision.
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Old Sep 26, 2006, 2:54 PM   #10
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SigmaSD9 wrote:
Quote:
lostsoul wrote:
Quote:
I have been torn judging the practical value of a DSLR and a regular point to shoot.
My question is, " is there much difference in picture quality between a picture taken with the Nikkon D50 Automatic mode verses a point to shoot like the Canon PowerShot Pro S3 IS 6MP Automatic mode?

I am not that educated with cameras but basically want a camera that takes vivid clear pictures with great detail.


thanks!

There is a huge difference between DSLR and P&S pictures. The reason boils down to the fact that the lens is the camera. A good lens costs more than a good DSLR. Good lenses give the sensor something worth writing down.Poetry isn't about the pencil.

That said, DSLRs are mostly worthless unless you are getting paid to be somewhere.To do a DSLR right you'll neednicepiece of luggage,several lenses, two wireless flashes, a couple of 4GB cards, preferably a mono or tripod, a fairly expensive computer and software suite, minimum of a 250 GB secondary hard drive, a DVD writer for backup, maybe add a laptop, and good insurance.

Agood test to see if you would like a DSLR systemmight be totie amedium size cinder block around your neckat the next outing when you think you mightwant to take pictures.To simulate a good lens on an average body with a usable flashit should weigh about 5 pounds and prevent you from sitting at a table. Bring it with you in small to medium carry-on luggage.

I'm not sure what your intent is but it obviously isn't in the interests of providing information so that people can make informed decisions. In fact, your comments do little to help the original poster decide.They only serve to intimidate anyone reading this thread that doesn't know better. To top it off,you're not even close in your analogies and comparisons.

DSLRs are not for everyone, but they are very versatile. They are not just for people who get paid to shot pictures. You can do as little or as much as you want with a DSLR.For the most part I carry one, maybe two lenses with me depending on what I'm doing. I rarely need a tripod especially since my camera has image stabilization built in. Another reason I don't need a tripod isunlike the days of film where you were limited to theISO speed of the film,I can adjust also myISO speed higher as neededto allow me to shoot at higher shutter speeds. There are times when I only need to carry one sometimes two lensesI know ahead of time what I'm shooting. For those times that I don't find a DSLR convenient, I carry a point and shoot.

Perhaps you goal is just to stir things up and watch responses flare up to your post, or maybe you actually believe what you are saying. Perhaps you own a DSLR and actually feel only professionals should own them. Inany case, I'll bet you will be hard pressed to find anyoneof even mediocre intelligence agreeing with your post.

Have a nice day, unless you make other plans.
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