Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > What Camera Should I Buy?

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old May 7, 2009, 3:47 AM   #1
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 6
Default First DSLR - Is live view a *must* for beginner?

Hi,
First post from a potential beginner who is getting a little bemused by the options available.

Background - Having been given a Zenit-E as a teenager many moons ago, I was put off manual photography for the next 25 years by my disastrous results. In the interim I became a computer geek and have been using photoshop et al for over 10 years so am comfortable with tinkering. Its occurred to me lately though that camera tech has reached the point (ie its approaching idiot-proof) that I'd be better combining my editing efforts with decent up front production.

So I've been scouring reviews for an entry level DSLR at the affordable end of the scale (Affordable meaning - if it turns out not to be idiot proof, I wont lose too much by sticking it on ebay).

And I have a shortlist of new and second hand potentials in the 10mp bracket -

Pentax K2000 (or K-M, depending where you live?)
Olympus E410/420
Sony A100/200

The Olympuses seemed attractive to me as they appear to have about 20 presets that show you the camera settings used on the display, ideal as a learning tool. However, they have no image stabilisation. The Sony's seem to have nearly everything - except live view, and given my frustrations with the Zenit, live view seems like a very big benefit in the learning curve too. Kind of points towards the Pentax which has stabilisation and live view. But is it too small? (I have fairly large hands)

Any comments on these meanderings would be most useful. Are manufacturers overcooking the importance of stabilisation? (I will definitely be using a zoom) Am I overegging the necessity of live view? Have I missed an obvious alternative?

I know I need to go to shops to get a feel for them all, but live in a very remote area so wont be able to for a while yet, would like to get the technical side of selection nailed first.

Sorry for being longwinded, look forward to some feedback.
Richard
Shetland
Primavera is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old May 7, 2009, 8:08 AM   #2
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,529
Default

IMO live view is NOT necessary. A DSLR is a heavier piece of equipment than a digicam. Composing hand-held shots by using the LCD is very poor technique. Live view has it's benefits (imo macro, product and some portrait work) but I wouldn't consider it a particularly necessary thing. My current dslr, which I've owned for 2 years, has the feature and I've never even tried it out once in 2 years.
JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 7, 2009, 8:30 AM   #3
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Primavera View Post
I know I need to go to shops to get a feel for them all...
That's your best bet (try them out in a store). Live view is not what it's cracked up to be with most dSLR models. Most of them have to flip the mirror out of the way in order to provide a live view image, then flip it back down again to focus using the camera's dedicated TTL focus sensors when you want to take a photo, which is a cumbersome and rather "clunky" process.

Some can use a Contrast Detection Autofocus System via the camera's main AF sensor (like a point and shoot camera model would do). But, it tends to be slow with most dSLR models.

IOW, it's more trouble than it's worth in most cases, especially if you take into consideration the difficulty of holding a dSLR out in front of you to use it as JohnG pointed out. Using the optical viewfinder is your best bet with a dSLR, at least with most current models.

The Sony A300 and A350 models are the exceptions and have a relatively fast Live View System, since these models use a separate live view sensor in the viewfinder housing that can see the same image normally projected to the optical viewfinder. That design lets the camera use it's dedicated 9 point AF sensor assembly, while providing Live View at the same time, without the performance issues associated with Live View using most other dSLR models. But, these Sony models have a smaller viewfinder compared to the A200 (in order to make room for the Live View sensor assembly). I'd want the larger viewfinder you get in the A200 if I were choosing between them.

Personally, I wouldn't use Live View on most dSLR models, and wouldn't let that part influence my decision. But, try them out in a store so you'll better understand the limitations of Live View in a dSLR (they won't work as well as members have become accustomed to in a point and shoot camera model that doesn't have a mirror with a TTL view).

As for stablization, it can come in handy when you don't have a tripod with you in less than optimum lighting. For example, early morning photos or late afternoon photos of landscapes where you may want to keep iso speeds set lower to keep image quality higher; or indoor photos of stationary subjects when you can't use a flash. Just keep in mind that it does not help for motion blur from subject movement, only with blur from camera shake.
JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 7, 2009, 8:41 AM   #4
Super Moderator
 
peripatetic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 3,599
Default

I have only just recently upgraded to a 5DMkII from a 5D. I must say I never expected to find Live View at all useful, but boy have I changed my mind!

I now think it's fantastic and would never recommend that anyone now buy one without it. Of course it has to be matched to a high-resolution LCD in order to be useful.

However it does NOT make the camera any more idiot-proof. If you don't want to learn to be a photographer then I strongly recommend that you avoid a DSLR altogether.

There is a very good chance that when you move from a P&S camera to a DSLR your pictures will get noticeably worse before they get better. Most people incorrectly blame this on the camera or lens. Be warned - a DSLR may not be the camera for you!

I recommend you check out something like the Panasonic LX3 or Canon G10 instead.
peripatetic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 7, 2009, 8:55 AM   #5
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 6
Default

Thanks for replies - A quick question (I have others too but am between meetings) Am I misunderstanding what Live View actually does?

I had figured in my head that as I alter the camera settings, I'll be able to look at the viewer and see the effect the setting changes have, eg watch it change focus etc. Is this the case? I was assuming it was and that it would be a good way to learn the effects of settings quickly. If I'm wrong and its purely an electronic view finder then it wouldnt be the learning aid I was hoping for.
Primavera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 7, 2009, 9:16 AM   #6
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

A live view system lets you use the camera's LCD for framing an image.

With most dSLR models that have live view, it works by flipping the mirror out of the way so that the camera's main imaging sensor can see the TTL (through the lens) image. When the mirror is flipped out of the way, that cuts off the optical path to your viewfinder and the camera's AF sensor assembly.

Then, the camera displays the images captured by the camera's main sensor on the LCD. How well the image you see will represent what the actual exposure will look like varies by camera. But, with most, it's probably not a good idea to assume your image will match what you see. Keep in mind that the camera will have limitations as to it's refresh rate (as it's grabbing frames from the imaging sensor using an electronic shutter at x times per second versus using your actual camera settings for things like shutter speed).

Light levels will influence how well it works. For example, many cameras will amplify the image more for the Live View display as light gets lower (which can increas noise/grain and lead to less accurate colors) and/or slow the refresh rate down to keep the display visible (which can cause delay and smear in the live view display), making it more difficult to give you something that is going to be close to the final image. Some cameras are going to be better than others at giving you a close approximation of what you're are shooting by keeping some settings in mind (with better results in better lighting). Again, I'd try them out in a store.
JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 7, 2009, 5:19 PM   #7
Super Moderator
 
peripatetic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 3,599
Default

Another camera that you might like to look at (and do try it in a shop) is the Panasonic G1.
peripatetic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 7, 2009, 10:33 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
mtngal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Frazier Park, CA
Posts: 16,056
Default

I have a dSLR with live view and find its use is limited. I tried to use it for an outside macro shot recently with the camera close to the ground, but couldn't see the LCD well enough to even frame, much less check focus (AF can work against you when shooting macro). Sunlight makes LCD's hard to see. It works well indoors, but most of what I take are outdoors.

I'd definitely handle the cameras personally before buying. Some people will discover issues that would bother them but not someone else (is it too light, too heavy, small, large, awkward, etc.). All three cameras are capable of taking good pictures.

Buying a dSLR is definitely a commitment - to get the best out of it you'll need to learn some photography principles so it takes both work and practice. But it can also be lots of fun. If you are interested and willing to learn then I don't think it makes sense to NOT get a dSLR to learn on. It's a different animal and I found myself getting into a couple of bad habits that I had to unlearn when I switched from a p&s to a dSLR.

As far as pre-sets go, they are nice to have and will help you get good shots before you learn how to get them on your own, keeping you from getting too frustrated when things don't go right. Are they absolutely necessary? No - you can get by very nicely without a huge number of them (my first "real" camera didn't have any presets, was aperture priority only and I loved it, getting along with it quite well once I got a vague idea of how aperture and shutter speed work).

I'd go with which camera feels most comfortable to you (and do spend some time looking through the viewfinders - you'll be spending lots of time looking through one).
mtngal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 8, 2009, 7:03 AM   #9
Senior Member
 
mole's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 8,522
Default

Richard -

Just my 2 cents - I have used a Canon Powershot (S3 and S5) for several years, and enjoyed the swivel screen LCD to allow me to see & frame pictures from many odd angles. Recently got a dSLR (Pentax K-200 aka K-m) which does not have live view. It was a bit of a learning curve to change to the dSLR, but it has given me much more flexibility and some great photos! I much prefer seeing the photo through the viewfinder, and do not miss having live view. Remember that you can always look at your picture in the LCD after you have taken it, and, if it doesn't look right, take another shot!
mole is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 8, 2009, 11:42 AM   #10
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 6
Default

Thanks for all the tips folks, its good to get some input.

I went to my only local camera shop today to see what they had - a total of 4 cameras in the price range I'm considering. Sony a200 & a350, Nikon D60 and Olympus E-420. The lady in the shop didnt seem too keen on the a200, suggesting they were prone to minor glitches. I liked the a350 better than the others, although its a little pricier it had a nice feel to it.

As to the idiot-proofing, poor choice of words on my part, I really want to learn how use a manual camera - I guess what I meant is I'm after a camera that is fairly intuitive, an example of unintuitive was the Olympus, which had the auto/manual on the menu rather than as a physical switch.

Have ended up with a Nokia phone after resisting them for many years purely because I had to acknowledge they understand intuitive menu styling and button placement better than any other manufacturer, and want to get a camera that fits that mould too.
Primavera is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 1:15 AM.