Is a DSLR suitable for someone like me?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by abc123, Dec 30, 2009.

  1. abc123 macrumors 6502

    Apr 26, 2004
    I need to purchase a new digital camera soon and I've been pondering a DSLR for some time. I know the old argument is that if you are not sure if you need something then you probably don't need it but I want some clarification. I've not used a DSLR before and don't have one available to try out before I buy so need some advice.

    Basically I am a hobbyist, I enjoy taking photos particularly of nature and urban environments. I have a crappy old canon p&s which is fine for party snaps, throwing in my bag to go out and I don't need to be too precious about it since it was given away free as part of a promotion a few years ago. It is very limiting when I want to take 'nice pictures' though so I've been borrowing my parent's panasonic lumix DMC-TZ3 when I've gone on holidays or out and want some better shots. You can see some of them on my flickr page -link here. Since I don't live particularly close to my parents they are not too thrilled about me always having their camera so I need to get a better one of my own.

    I know I am not the best photographer and probably never will be. I do enjoy it and have been playing around with the settings on the P&S cameras I have been using. Do you think I have plenty more to learn using a P&S and a camera similar to the lumix would be best suited or am I be ready to take the step into DSLRs for a little more $$ and actually get something out of it?

    Any advice, tips, criticism (constructive of course), etc would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for your time.
  2. Doylem macrumors 68040


    Dec 30, 2006
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    Get a good mid-price DSLR from a major manufacturer, and enjoy yourself. You'll never be a good photographer, you say. Hell, how do you know until you have a decent piece of kit to use? You'll get lots of conflicting advice about which camera/lens combo to choose... but get a DSLR. You won't regret it... :)
  3. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Anyone can learn to take advantage of the features of a DSLR depending on how willing they are to put some time into it. And if all else fails you can just use full auto mode. If you're interested and can afford the purchase, why not?
  4. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    A camera is a tool. Better tools allow for better potential results (actual results may vary, contents settles during shipping...) Basically, there are three things you should ask yourself:

    1. Will I carry a larger camera with me? If the answer is "probably not," then a DSLR is not the answer.
    2. Do I want to potentially be a photo nut? If the answer is "Heck no!," then a DSLR is not the answer.
    3. Can I afford it if I get into it? If you're gear-oriented, you can spend a lot of money on cameras, lenses, tripods, bags, filters, software...

    Any DSLR made in the last 5 years will be fine- if you're ok with the concept, but not sure then either get a cheap kit or a used camera- you'll probably get enough use that it's worth it unless your answer to #1 is "no," in which case just get a good P&S.

  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    The SLR is best suited to the person who set out (to his kitchen table or the park or wherever) with the goal of making some images. In other words if photography is the prime activity.

    But if you are doinf something else but make want to take a photo as a secondary or opertunistic activity then the smaller point and shoot might be best.

    The trouble is the grey areas. Many times I'll go out and do something but thing i want to record some photos and I'll be someing them to others and want the best I can get so I bring the SLR. Even knowing that most of the time it's a bit grey, I think the best why to decide if you want an SLR is if the prime activity to photography or something else
  6. jaysen macrumors 6502

    Sep 16, 2009
    ^ What he said... and I'll add my .2 cents;

    If you're just starting out look for a used (i'm biased towards cannon) Rebel, XT, XTi, XS, XSi... These are all GREAT entry level DSLR's capable (obviously the person on the end makes a difference too) of producing "pro" like results (with other attachments - i.e. new lens, external flash, tripod, etc)

    On Craigslist or B/S/T thread you can find tons of deals on the above models.

    I was in the same boat as you about a year ago and ended up with an XSi kit - I had the same concerns as Paul posted above but decided against them anyway, and i'm sure glad I did.

    Now a year later; It's become my expensive hobby - from purchasing new glass, to a CF tripod, to a new macbook pro and unfortunately now considering a new 27" imac.
  7. Nostromo macrumors 65816


    Dec 26, 2009
    Deep Space
    If you want one, buy one.

    I recommend looking at a Canon Rebel with video capability.

    Handle it, and if you like it, get it.

    Take a look at the Canon 40D, which has a better viewfinder.

    A good camera will heighten our joy, and an SLR is not much more difficult to handle than a point and shoot.

    If you want to do photography, don't punish yourself into buying something you don't like.
  8. neutrino23 macrumors 68000

    Feb 14, 2003
    SF Bay area
    If money is no object then go for the DSLR. If you are at all on a budget then look for a recent P&S with a good optical zoom lens.

    This will let you experiment with setting apertures, shutter time and focal length and ISO. Also, it will be smaller and lighter and you'll be more likely to have it with you.

    What you gain from a DSLR is less noise at high ISO, probably some speed of operation, some more advanced settings you are unlikely to use and the ability to change lenses.

    The lenses, which can cost a huge amount of money, give you the ability to tailor the camera to the kind of photography you'll do from portraits to sports to macro photography to scenery and more.

    Unless money is no object I'd spend six months to a year with a P&S and once you get your bearings you can move on to a DSLR. By that time there will be all new models out on the market to choose from.

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