Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Camera Hunting - Part II

Continuing on with my camera hunting ...

When I was a teenager I got my first 35mm SLR - a Chinon CS.  It was a great camera to learn all the intricacies of photography.  This was in the days of film.  You took your photos, you hoped you got it right, but you didn't know until you sent the film in to be developed.  It was a lot of money for a teenager to spend and crushing when mistakes were made and photos didn't turn out the way I had envisioned them.

Fast forward to 2003.  Manuel and I meet and fall in love.  He has a 35mm Canon ... I still have my Chinon.  In 2006 we borrow my Mom's Nikon Coolpix to take with us on a European trip.  We fall in love with digital photography.  We get our own - a Canon PowerShot S3 II.  It was incredible to not be tied to film ... to be able to snap and view immediately.  To know that the picture you had just taken wasn't a dud.  Wow!  After Walter was born we got the Canon Powershot A1000 as an additional camera - a pocket camera to have with us when we were out and about.

Still ... I missed the control of the 35mm SLR.  I just didn't want to go back in time and be tied to film.  Also, film was getting more expensive to develop.  Besides, it was just too inconvenient - you had to bring the film in and wait for it to be developed.

This brings me to the present.  I really feel that I need something better than a point & shoot (P&S).  I just can't get the right images for this blog.  I'm constantly struggling with the lighting.  I hate flash.  Of course, there are just too many choices ;)

DSLR Choices

In the DSLR arena I've focused on two models - both Nikons - the D3100 and the D5100.  The D3100 is really a beginner's entry DSLR.  It has a great guide menu that takes you through everything, yet it still allows you to go totally manual when you're ready.  The D5100 is a better camera - more controls, better features ... but it costs about $130 more.  That would almost pay for a prime lens.  The D5100 has a flip out display, art filters that can be applied while taking photos; you can even use the diorama filter while making movies ... so cool!  Yet, the D3100 takes photos just as well.  The ISO is a little lower, but still more than adequate.  Most of the art filters are there in the D3100 - you just have to apply them post-shot (the only one not included is the Selective Colour - a filter which allows you to pick a colour and have it be the only colour shown while everything else is black and white - it produces quite striking images ... still this is very likely available in Photoshop-type software ... it's just not as immediate).  The D5100 has a much larger selection of Scene Modes, including one called Food which, you guessed it, is used when taking photos of food.  For a blogger, a really useful mode.

CSC Choices

Compact System Cameras - CSC's - use a mirrorless system.  They are much smaller and lighter than a DSLR.  The price, unfortunately, is very similar (if not more) than a traditional DSLR.  The advantage?  Size.  They are more subtle when out and about - they are great for taking candidate photos.  The downside is that they generally aren't quite as good with image quality.  The more expensive ones get quite close ... but a comparably priced DSLR will likely blow it out of the water.

Which One?

I can't decide if I should take a gamble on a CSC.  The CSC would definitely be more manageable in a physical sense.  I'm more likely to take it with me and use if for everything from taking photos of Walter to taking photos of recipes that I'm trying out.  With a DLSR I'm more likely to really work at taking great photos - I'm more likely to focus on the technical.  With the CSC I'm more likely to focus on what's happening.

Which would you go for?  Why?  If you have a DSLR or CSC why did you pick it?  Do you like it or do you wish you'd picked something else?

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