Posted by: Jay | April 21, 2008

New Digital Camera

No, I don’t have one yet, but I plan on stimulating the economy by purchasing one.

One of the best purchases I ever made when I bought a camera was the Minolta Maxxum 9xi. It was Minolta’s ‘pro’ camera (Nikon and Canon were still the ones the ‘real’ pros used). It had excellent metering, shutter speeds up to 1/12000 of a second, 4.5fps shooting with an internal motor, and too many other options to list. Despite this being the digital age, these babies still sell for nearly $400 on Ebay and that’s just for the body. Some of the best work I’ve done was with that camera because of it’s versatility. Alas, I had to sell it some years ago and never went back to film because digital is so much better and inexpensive (no development costs unless I want to order prints).

In the digital age, cost has prohibited me from getting an SLR. It’s only over the last 3-4 years that prices have started to come down and even so, they’re still not cheap. You can get an excellent point and shoot digital camera for about $200, but an SLR will still start you out at $500 or more. But what are the advantages?

For starters, SLR’s actually have more accurate color representation. Many P&S digital cameras have extremely vibrant colors (sometimes too vibrant) because that’s what consumers like to see. Snap some shots of a bouquet of flowers, and those colors are going to pop. But sometimes it’s not that good when it comes to portraits as the reds are too bold and it makes even the manliest male look like he’s thrown on some lipstick. SLR’s give you what you’re looking at which is better. If I want to punch the colors up, I can do so in Photoshop later on.

SLR’s have much better flashes that help to eliminate red-eye. Red-eye on a P&S is hit or miss. Some protect against it very well. Others don’t. I’ve yet to see a review of an SLR where there were problems with red-eye on their pop up flash. SLR’s also give you the option of purchasing a separate flash.

SLR’s are much more versatile. Rather than having to rely on an internal zoom (I never use the digital zoom in any camera as they all stink), SLR’s have a variety of lenses. Yes, they cost more money, but I don’t have to buy a whole new camera if I want to do very wide angle shots or super zoom ones. Filters are a great tool and can usually only work with an SLR. Ever see a shot where the background is darker than the foreground? Like this one (I didn’t do it)? Normally with a shot like that you’re going to have a sky that is washed out if you expose for the foreground. A graduated neutral density filter will block some of that light. Granted, some of these changes can be made in Photoshop afterwards, but why not do it when composing the shot? Want to get a shot on a tripod and not press the button? For most digital cameras you have to rely on a self timer, but when time is of the essence (let’s say you want to freeze something you know is going to be running by at some point), you can use a wireless trigger with an SLR.

This is just a personal preference for me, but there is nothing I cannot stand more in digital cameras than the shutter lag. In reality because we’re dealing with cameras with little computers inside of them, we’re talking more about processor lag. You’ve probably experienced it before. You press that shutter button, but instead of getting that shot you line up of somebody with eyes open and mouth closed, you get one with their eyes closed and their mouths open because it took a half a second or longer for the camera to react. Granted, this has gotten better with newer cameras, but SLR’s don’t have the problem at all.

The one I am seriously looking at is the Nikon D40. Nikon has finally taken the plunge and offered up an SLR that is affordable without lacking many of the features an advanced shutterbug like me wants. There are three sites that I rely on when shopping for any digital camera and they are:

Digital Photography Review
Digital Camera Resource
Ken Rockwell

All three offer in depth reviews and I take their recommendations seriously. They all gave favorable reviews to the Nikon D40. The best part? You can get the camera with the lens kit for a little over $400. Granted, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some of the higher priced models, but so what? At that price, it’s worth it.

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Responses

  1. I had a darkroom in every house I lived as a military brat. Photography was my life. Then film and video and computing took over And I hadn’t owned a camera analog or otherwise for awhile. So I got a cheap Olympus digital for snapshots, $140. Well I was really surprised. After converting the images to grey scale, and a little tweaking they make for quite rich b&w pictures. And of course I love the expansion possibilities. I just can’t justify the $500 plus price tags anymore when I pay so little for digital.

  2. some examples here

    http://picasaweb.google.com/xjudson/Abq

  3. Those are nice shots. I like the color Dairy Queen one. It has kind of a desolate ‘Route 66’ kind of feel to it.

    As for the SLR, for me it’s all about versatility but that versatility came with price tags too high for the longest time.

    One thing I didn’t mention also was how much I miss optical viewfinders. Most digital cameras have a digital image that is bounced back off a mirror or you use the LCD screen. I guess I am old school and still really like looking through the viewfinder.

    I feel equipment is too overrated. People spend thousands on camera equipment they’ll never need simply because somebody told them getting a Nikon SLR was better than getting a Nikon P&S. Meanwhile, the only time they bust out the camera is for parties and special events. A waste. For me? It’s been a long time coming for the digital SLR and now the time is right.

  4. my first camera was a hand me down argus c3.

    check it out

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argus_C3

    solid, simple and complete

  5. Mine was the Canon T-60.

    http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/companies/canon/fdresources/SLRs/t60/index.htm

    Fully manual. The best thing I had for that camera was the 50mm lens that had a maximum aperture of 1.4 which really allowed for nice depth of field.

  6. There are dozens of digital SLR cameras on the market today; however, there are few clear or consistent guides to which ones are the best quality and most reliable. Well, Which Digital SLR Camera? has personally tested and evaluated these digital SLR cameras so to give you an easy and simple recommendation of which ones you should choose and which ones you should avoid.


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