DSLR Dilemma

Should I buy a DSLR?

Written by Gail Bjork

I may buy my first digital single lens reflex camera. There is more to consider than I imagined!

I may buy my first digital single lens reflex camera.* There is so much more to consider than I ever imagined and doing the necessary research certainly isn’t child’s play!

DSLR kidI went all digital several years ago, when I traded in my last single lens reflex camera. I’ve adamantly stated during this time that I don’t want a DSLR because of the high cost, bulk and weight.

Admittedly, it was easy to be so sure of myself during a time when each new advanced compact digital camera improved over its predecessor. But this trend has changed during the last year or two.

Don’t get me wrong, compact digital cameras are very good. They have significantly improved since I bought my first one in 2000. I always expect to have at least two compact digital cameras — a carry-at-all-times ultra compact like my Canon SD890IS and one like my Panasonic FZ18, a lightweight, full-featured camera that has a magnificent super zoom range.

During the past few years, manufacturers started adding features such as face detection, smile detection and auto-everything modes instead of improving those that are important to me as a photographer. Worse, they stuff mega amounts of megapixels onto small sensors. As a result, image quality degrades when using high ISO numbers. Oh, and many otherwise fine compact cameras don’t have viewfinders.

DSLR features I want

Good high ISO performance is at the top of my list as to why I’m looking at DSLRs. Some features such as predictive autofocus are much more effective on DSLRs than compact digital cameras that claim to have them.

Few would argue that, in addition to outstanding high ISO performance, DSLRs have better image quality, better dynamic range, faster and more accurate autofocus and the like. All DSLRs have hot shoes for external flashes, which provide superior flash performance compared to built-in flashes. There is also a wide variety of interchangeable lenses and accessories for DSLRs.

Other top priority features include:

  • Lightweight with comfortable ergonomics
  • Very good dynamic range
  • Predictive auto focus

I have a lot of homework to do!  I’m off to class….

*Update: I eventually did buy an entry level DLSR, the Canon XSi/450D, and have no regrets. You can read about my experiences elsewhere in this blog.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.

1 Comment

  • Yeah, last month I bought my first DSLR, a Canon 400D, and I’m pretty pleased so far.  IMO the body of the 400D (and you have a 450D which is basically the same body-wise) isn’t too bulky; there are definetly heavier DSLRs out there. 🙂  I’m happy with the size.