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2009.04.13

Shopping for a digital SLR – DSLR for short – can be quite easy if you know these facts:

  • Even the most basic DSLR is a good camera. All current DSLR cameras capture high quality images with low noise and are quite responsive. ¬†Obviously, there are differences, some DSLR are better than others, but without specific needs, differences are not that significant.
  • The biggest difference between digital SLRs are their lens mount. The set of possible lenses you can attach with fully automatic functions is determined by the lens mount. Certain lenses are only available for some mounts. If you have special needs, check which lenses are available first.
  • Lenses limit the performance of the camera, cheap glass will not let through as much details as a modern DSLR can record. Invest in good lenses. Lenses typically significantly outlive camera bodies.
  • The next most significant difference in built-in stabilization vs lens based stabilization. Digital SLR cameras from Pentax, Sony and Olympus (not all) have built-in stabilization. Other manufacturers offer stabilization on select lenses at an extra cost. This cost is encurred for each stabilized lens. Not only can this add up, many lenses do not have a stabilized equivalents.
  • For a DSLR that shoots movies in addition to stills, there are currently only three choices which are all in different price-brackets: Canon Digital Rebel T1i, Nikon D90 and Canon EOS 5D Mark II. The Canon Rebel is a light entry-level model, the Nikon one is a mid-range model and the Canon 5D is a relatively costly full-frame camera.
  • Expect pro-prices for pro-features: Full-frame models offer the highest resolution or the lowest noise; High-speed continuous shooting; 100% coverage viewfinder, Weather-sealed body (Pentax excluded).
  • Pentax has the only DSLRs that run on AA batteries. Not only does this improve versatility, battery-life is exceptionally high with 1100 shots-per-charge for the K200D and 1600 shots-per-charge for the K200D (CIPA standard).
  • Sony has the only full-frame DSLR with built-in stabilization, the Alpha A900. It is also the only compact (no integrated vertical grip) full-frame model with a 100% coverage viewfinder.
  • Digital SLR cameras do not improve the photographer.

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One response to “Secrets of DSLR Shopping”

  1. Itai says:

    A day after posting this, Nikon announced the D5000 which is the 4th DSLR to record movies. So, there are now two such DSLR cameras in the entry-level range.

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