Buying a Camera

Below this article is the original I wrote back in 2008.  A lot has changed since then. Camera technology has leaped in terms of Image processors, and sensors.  After using a Canon dSLR for almost 3 years, I realized, it’s not the camera that makes good images, rather the person holding the camera. I’ve purchased a Bridge Super Zoom camera, that I love.  And I’ve since also bought a Micro-Fourthirds Olympus.

I picked the Olympus E-PL5 because of it’s size, and capabilities. It’s great with high ISO’s, small in size, and actually creates images that I find useful right out of the camera. Naturally this is all subjective, and there are photographers that believe you need to spend time, and energy on the post processing, if you really care about photography, I would disagree on that, because I am not a Wedding photographer, or a photographer working for a magazine.  In other words I don’t make a living off those photo’s, since I do this as a hobby, and enjoy it. I used to spend a lot of time on post processing when taking photos in RAW with the Canon, and tried it with the Panasonic as well. I enjoyed it, and learned a lot, but takes time.

Currently, I have the Bridge camera, and the Olympus E-PL5, and trying to sell my Canon dSLR because it’s heavy, and I’m too lazy to lug it around. Here you can see a History of my camera’s


 

Camera’s are a hard choice to make, but there are many things that can help make a choice. I will list those points and explain a little, there are from my point of view, you are welcome to disagree. But at the same time make it constructive.

  • Point & shoot vs. dSLR vs. bridge
  • Megapixel mania
  • Sensor sizes
  • Quality
  • Size vs. portability

Point & Shoot vs. dSLR vs. bridge

Ok back when I got my first digital camera it was a Kodak DC 280 with a 2 Mega pixel sensor. It was a pretty good buy back then, since I didn’t even have a film camera. So I started taking pictures, and realized how much fun it is. I can take as many pictures as I want and just keep the ones that are good, and man I made some crappy pictures. So in a sense that was my entry into digital Photography. What came after it was what they call bridge camera. It was a Fujifilm Finepix 3800 3.2 Megapixel, and 6x zoom. It was also a great camera, but I reached a time when I realized it’s limitations. Low light focus was not it’s strength, but it has a great macro feature.

So after a while I tried a dSLR the Canon EOD D30, yes D30 it’s a discontinued model, and it was a 3.2 Mega Pixel dSLR, when new it’s price was in the thousands of dollars. Anyhow, that was my first time to actually use and feel a dSLR, I preferred the pictures that came out of my then cheap Fujifilm but it’s a matter of taste. The Canons images were just too soft and dark compared to the fuji. So then I decided to upgrade as well, after all it was a logical evolution.

After lengthy research, I picked the usual suspects for an entry-level dSLR at the time:

The first advice I followed was to go to a shop and physically hold the cameras. The way I eliminated the Canon since even for my small hands the grip was uncomfortable. The Nikon was a running out model, but was still expensive, the Pentax was expensive as well. The best price/performance ratio was the Olympus, since I got it for less than I would have any of the above mentioned with a dual lens kit. Needless to mention that I was not locked in to any of the manufacturers at the time, since I had no lenses from the film world.

Megapixel mania

Now this in my opinion is just a marketing jargon. The decision lied depends on what you decide to use the pictures for. If you make money from the images you take, and want to make poster size prints then it matters. If you are a casual user, and maybe sometimes print on an A4 size on occasion, for that a 3.2 Megapixel can do the trick. Now day’s you will not find less than a 6 Megapixel, which are perfect for the casual user. Those who are professional photographers care about every pixel and they should because they have more flexibility to crop, a bigger image. In conclusion I would say that an amature photographer does not need anything more than a 6 Megapixel.

Sensor Sizes

This is an interesting topic as well, in my humble opinion this is irrelevant to the average amature photographer. As with Megapixel count, to the professionals it makes a difference. And I don’t think this should really be a consideration when buying a camera.

Quality

What really amuses me sometimes is that point and shoot owners are so happy that they have a 10 megapixel camera, and think they can do so much better pictures than someone with a dSLR with a 6 Megapixel sensor. I think they are mistaken. What really matters is who is behind the equipment, and how well they can use it. It’s like giving a Ferrari F1 car to a regular driver and telling him you have the faster car, now go in there and win the race. It won’t happen, (unless of course he is alone on the course). This actually ties in to the sensor size, and how much you can cram into the chip, the smaller sensors with more receptors mean more noise and less quality. Those are my 10 cents.

Size vs. portability

Now in this the Point and Shoots are in great advantage. For short trips, and just casually taking pictures they are much easier to just turn on, take a snap and go on. While with a dSLR being in the bag, 2 or more lenses in it adds weight, taking it out of the bag, or even hanging it on your neck can be exhausting for a whole day. So in terms of portability there is no argument for the dSLR’s. Though Olympus claims they made the perfect dSLR with the E-420 and the pancake lens.

This is my little guide for choosing a dSLR, it is not complete, and by no means will everyone agree with me.

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