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Old Dec 29, 2009, 11:12 AM   #1
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Default Should I upgrade to a DSLR (and if so, which one)?

Hello all,

I've been reading various threads here with great interest, as I've found myself on this site seeking answers to my own, often similar, questions.

I currently own a Fuji P&S camera, the FinePix S700. I've had it for about a year and a half and all things considered, I've enjoyed the camera. However, as I've become more and more interested in improving the quality of the photos I produce and learning more about photography in general I've become increasingly aware of some of the things I DON'T like about this camera that I feel are holding me back. I am therefore considering purchasing a better camera and (potentially) upgrading to my first DSLR but unsure of how to proceed.

My main complaints about my current camera include:
- Lag time from when the shutter button is pressed to when the actual photo is taken
- Lag time in between photos
- Low light/indoor/non-flash images are usually poor quality unless a tripod is used
- Flash (very harsh, especially on faces)
- Manual features, while a nice option, are somewhat awkward to access via the menus, buttons, setup, etc.
- Would prefer a better zoom

I typically use my camera for events with family/friends (indoor and out), travel, etc. Nothing overly specific, just general purpose use.

As I mentioned, I'm interested in learning more about photography in general (I'm in the midst of a Project 365 as we speak), hence my potential interest in a DSLR. However, the more research I've done on entering the DLSR world, the more confused I become about which camera to invest in to suit my needs. Ideally I'd like a camera that I'll be happy using for at least several years, but I'm also working with a budget of approximately $750 (USD, I live in Massachusetts) or so right now.

Essentially I'm looking to find out if I should:

#1 Stick with my current camera and purchase add-ons, etc. to address my complaints
#2 Purchase a higher quality P&S camera (if so, which one)
#3 Upgrade to my first DSLR (again, if so, which one)

Any info from your wealth of knowledge would be greatly appreciated - thanks!
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Old Dec 29, 2009, 1:08 PM   #2
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Jill-

Welcome to the Forum- We're pleased that you dropped by today.

Your desire to learn more about photography in general, to sharpen your skills, and to consider better equipment is very understandable. To begin, let's consider the three options that you listed.

#1 Stick with your current camera and purchase add ons, etc-You currently are shooting with the Fuji S S-700, also known as the Fuji 5700 in other parts of the world. It was Fuji's most basic camera when it was introduced several years ago. It does not have IS or Image Stabilization, it also had a lens that only began at F 3.5, and just the most basic controls. So I would suggest your replace your current camera to really take advantage of the many camera improvements that have been made in today's digital cameras.

#2 Purchase a new higher quality P&S camera - That is a possible solution, but it also might be imposing upon yourself an intermediate step that still does not get you the image quality that you desire, and represents a substantial financial investment, that you might not be able to recoup. possible cameras: because your Fuji S-700 already has 10X optical zoom, I would think that a possible choice would be a category called a super zoom or bridge camera. The term "bridge camera" denotes that the camera is an intermediate step between P&S cameras and an entry level DSLR camera. If physical camera size is not a factor, possible choices would be the Canon SX-20 or the Panasonic FZ-35.

#3 Upgrade to your first DSLR camera
- This solution could have two very positive advantages. (1) it will give you the enhanced image quality that you are seeking. (2) As long as there are no qualms about physical camera size, an entry level DSLR camera is only $100 to $150 more than an intermediate P&S camera choice. Possible entry level DSLR choices? Just about any of the entry level DSLR cameras are capable of producing excellent image quality. Every major camera manufacturer has models. Image Stabilization is another factor to consider in your DSLR choice. Pentax, Olympus and Sony have the Image Stabilization mechanism installed in the DSLR camera body. That way any lens mounted on those cameras gain the advantage of IS. Canon and Nikon in contrast, install the IS mechanism in their lenses. The result is that if you want IS you have to purchase the IS in each and every lens you need for your camera. That represents an added cost to you as the consumer.

If low light level photography is a priority, the Pentax Kx model is a good camera to consider. It has received excellent reviews. Other entry level DSLR cameras such as the Nikon D-3000 model, the Canon XS and XSi models, and the Sony A-230 models have also received review praise.

When considering a DSLR camera it is very important to understand that you are essentially "buying into" a system. So it is a rather important choice. Why, you might ask? Because the usual scenario is that after using your entry level DSLR camera for multiple years, it is natural to stay with the same camera brade and just upgrade the DSLR camera body and to move forward with the DSLR lenses that you already own. So, if you want to opt for a different camera brand, you face not only the cost of a new DSLR body, but new lenses as well, because DSLR lenses are not interchangeable among DSLR camera brands.

Hopefully, this will get the needed discussion underway. We are always open to any questions. Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Dec 29, 2009, 1:48 PM   #3
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Thanks for all the info Sarah. I'm encouraged (and excited) to hear that in your opinion it seems that moving in the DSLR direction may make the most sense. That's really what I've been leaning towards, its just a bit intimidating as there's so much to consider.

So now for my new concerns/questions

Upon initial research into DSLRs I've been most attracted to either Canon or Nikon. It just seems that they're the most popular, get the best reviews, most reliable, etc. etc. However, having the IS in the camera body vs. in the lens is making me think otherwise.

Also, if I'm going to invest several hundred dollars in a camera I'm concerned about getting the most basic, entry level model. Would it seem to make sense to pay a bit more to get a not quite as basic model? Or would it be better to get a more basic body and invest some additional money into lenses, etc.?
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Old Dec 29, 2009, 1:54 PM   #4
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If you are planning to learn more about photography, the dslr would be the best route over other system, but it is not the only solution. Bridge cameras are pretty good also. So it will be a big improvement over what you have now. But the dslr give you the most option for change and growth over the year.

As an example, I invested in an Eos-1 back in the days of flim, 1995. It serve me well till this year when I finally switch over to dslr. All my lenses transfer over to my new canon t1i. So I had to make no any major lens investment to get the same abilities.

Check out this link about dslr techniques in their youtube workshop. See if these are things you would be interested in. www.dslrtips.com

With the question about which dslr system, all the brand make a good system in the price range you are looking at. The pervious mention pentax k-x is the newest entry to the dslr market, and has some very nice feature. And is price at 720 with a 18-55 and 55-300mm lens. Also the canon XSI, Olympus E620, Sony a330, and d5000 are all in your price range with multi kit lenses.

If you do think dslr is where you want to go, I would go to the camera shops and check out each of these model, so you get a good idea of how it feels in your hand, and if you like the ergos of the controls.

Last edited by shoturtle; Dec 29, 2009 at 7:18 PM. Reason: bad proof reading left out a key word
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Old Dec 29, 2009, 4:43 PM   #5
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Jill-

You raise some good issues. Buying upwards a bit does have some advantages. Both Olympus with their two lens kit, and Pentax, with their two lens kits offer what is essentially a discounted lens package at a very attractive price, while providing a DSLR camera with a larger feature set.

Pentax Kx two lens kit:
This kit includes both the Pentax 18-55mm kit lens, as well as the Pentax 50-200mm lens. Because the multiplier for the Pentax APS-C equipped DSLR bodies have a 1.5X multiplier, these two lens will cover in 35mm term a focal length range of 28 to 300mm. That is the normal focal lengths used by most hobbyist photographers. This kit is priced at $649.00 at www.buydig.com.

The Olympus E-620 two lens kit - This kit contains the Olympus 14-42mm kit lens, and the Olympus 40-150mm lens. because the multiplier for the Olympus 4/3 imager is 2.0X, that provides the very same 28mm to 300mm focal lengths in 35mm terms. This kit is priced at $638.00 at www.amazon.com.

So in the case of these two lens kits you are paying a bit more dollar-wise, but also getting an upgraded (from the average entry level DSLR cameras) DSLR body and the two lenses at a discounted price to quickly get you into operation.

There are still some Olympus E-520 two lens kits available, with the E-520 camera body instead of the current E-620 camera body and the same two Olympus lenses for $485.00 at www.amazon.com.

In the Canon brand, there is a $200.00 instant cash rebate available if the Canon XS, XSi, or T-1 cameras are ordered together on the same tranaction along with the Canon 55-250mm lens. So there are some deals out there. The Canon XSi would be an upgrade to the basic XS model DSLR camera body.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Dec 29, 2009, 5:06 PM   #6
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On the issue of IS in the body vs in the lens, it comes down to personal preference. It is a handy feature but it is not a must have if you have a steady hand. Personally I doubt there is a clear cut advantage one over the other.

With IS in the body, no matter what lens you put on, you have that ability. If it is in the lens, you get a bit better is performance. So it is really a personal decision. I have lenses that are not IS form my older canon Eos-1. And they work great for the application I use them for in my T1i. IS is need more when you are use longer zooms. Where a hand shake is really pronounce. It is like holding a long stick if you wiggle the part close to the hand, the far end moves even more. And you would want it turn off if you are using a flash or on a tripod. As IS will induce shake on a stable camera.

The reason that canon and nikon comes up most when researching dslr, is because canon it the largest maker, and nikon second in the world, and makes good cameras. They are the big boys. But olympus, pentax and sony make good cameras also.

Last edited by shoturtle; Dec 29, 2009 at 7:20 PM. Reason: typo
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Old Dec 29, 2009, 6:19 PM   #7
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A couple of things - getting a basic camera with better lenses is almost always the best idea - the exceptions being those who need specific special features only found on more expensive cameras. It doesn't sound like you have any of them, so any of the entry level dSLRs will work - buy one of the basic cameras and buy better lenses. A mediocre lens will always give you a mediocre picture, while a sharper/brighter/better contrast lens can (but may not always) give you an outstanding picture, even on a basic camera.

Image stabilization will be important to some but not important to others. It's not important to those who can use a relatively fast shutter speed - one appropriate to the focal length of the lens (as was pointed out above, a longer lens is more susceptible to camera shake). It's also not important to someone who uses a tripod most of the time.

On the other hand, image stabilization can come in really handy if you are taking pictures in lower light, regardless of focal length. IS came in really handy when I was shooting in a slot canyon, even though I was using a very wide lens (10 mm) - I don't think either Canon or Nikon have a stabilized fish-eye lens. I've also been happy to have it when shooting in museums or other places indoors. Since one of your complaints with your current camera is blurry pictures without flash, getting stabilization should be high on your list of priorities.

All of the entry dSLR cameras seem to be equally reliable. I happen to shoot Pentax and my first dSLR camera, bought at least 4 years ago, was still working perfectly when it was stolen from the person who bought it from me a couple of months ago. And I'm still using the camera it replaced (a K100), so I don't think that "reliable" really enters into the mix.

Regardless of what camera you get, if you use flash much you should plan on buying an external flash right away. DSLR cameras in-camera flashes aren't all that great - not sure they are hugely better than those on a p&s. On the other hand, add a flash to a hot-shoe and you can get some really excellent shots. That would address your dislike of your current flash.

As far as your desire for "a better zoom" - do you want something longer or wider than what's on your camera? There are all kinds of lenses that do all kinds of different things, that it's important for you to figure out what you want that your camera doesn't provide.

The good news for you is that any of the dSLR cameras are capable of providing excellent pictures.
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