Do I need a DSLR?

Circle of love
Consider this!

 

My first digital camera was a 4 megapixel Canon Power Shot S40 compact camera  priced at  $800 in 2001. I had clicked about 5000 pictures with the S40 in just six months knowing the camera inside out and was never done with it! The affordability and curiosity of a D-SLR made me own my first digital SLR that was a 8 megapixel Canon 30D priced at $1300 in 2007. Also, I thought I could enjoy the wonderful lenses I had from the earlier Canon Elan7E film SLR. I still seemed to prefer the compact one at most outing until I let my brother have the S40 and I was only on the DSLR (Read full story here :  Me, Myself & Camera) . Basically, not owning a Digital SLR camera was never a show-stopper in my life!

 

DSLR as well as digicams and even ultra compact digital cameras are highly advanced and they provide you with amazing picture quality. But DSLR is basically the first step in equipment purchase to photography (and it knows no end) but digicams will stop you right there – and make you focus on photography in toto! Check the two lists yourself and the more you answer “Yes” in the first list and “No” in the second list – you are better off sticking with a digital compact camera (prosumer) and if you have more “Yes” in the second list- you are getting reading to climb the Mt. Everest and it is going to be lot lot more than just clicking pictures!

 

Scenario 1: 
  1. For me DSLR is that jazzy gadget like Iphone! How can I not own one?
  2. Peer pressure, all my friends have it I want one!
  3. Photography? I always loved it! DSLR is the road to “Great Pictures”.
  4. I love a light and a compact camera.
  5. I don’t love hassle and a click or so should do the trick.
  6. You are not a good  photographer and you think DSLR would make you one?
  7. I want super zooms at an affordable price.
  8. Most often I end up sharing pictures on Facebook/Google, etc.
  9. It is too much of an effort to lug around lots of lenses.

 

Scenario 2: 
  1. I am motivated to learn photography
  2. I require the flexibility in my camera.
  3. I have the bucks to support photography.
  4. I don’t mind a big bulky gear as long as it is a technology wizard.
  5. I love the bokehs, lens flare and the people who talks all this.
  6. I need a camera that responds quickly.
  7. I need high quality pictures to print enlargements.
  8. I should be able to take good pictures in low light.
  9. I’m willing to work little to maintain my camera.
  10. You love looking like a pro with a bag full of lenses & other photography gear.

 

Are you shooting still  for a DSLR? (You won’t reach here if you are Ok buying the compact digicam, right?). So, let’s read on..
Most beginner photographer’s end up buying a entry-level DSLR with  really high hopes only to find that with all the money they garnered to adorn themselves with a DSLR – the camera literally can’t even reach the moon. Quite literally!

 

Disappointments:
  1.  Kit lens is usually 18-55 mm that gives you almost a normal-eye view on at the maximum zoom and a good wide-angle view on the other side.  And most often what beginner’s want to shoot are the birds & the flowers and just about everything but from a distance. It doesn’t work.  Lens hunt begins.
  2. All I can shoot is in auto mode – I don’t understand the so many controls the camera has.
  3. Ok, I got a few more lenses that can now zoom too. But too much stuff to carry! I am more concerned which lens to use. When my camera is on wide I need a telephoto and vice-versa
  4. The big – heavy DSLR is quite a pain to move around and I always seem to attract attention.
  5. I can’t get those beautiful colors and effects which  I have seen in my friends pictures..
  6. My gear is never good, my friend always seems to have a better Camera (DSLR) body or better lens!
The vicious cycle continues…

Shouldn’t I be more focused on the photography at the first place ?

The idea in this article is not to discourage owning a DLSR. I’m just being vicious and reminding you that a good photographer willing to learn doesn’t need to have a heavy-duty equipment. And  if you are specially tight on budget but serious about photography maybe save now for the right equipment later! And if you are just looking to have some good pictures of family & friends and on vacation you are better off going for a compact digicam!

The following picture was taken with a 4mp Canon PowerShot s40 (Point-n-shoot) camera.

Circle of love

Circle of Love

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Comments
12 Responses to “Do I need a DSLR?”
  1. $udhakar says:

    Nice article Anil. Like it.

  2. Well I have been thinking about buying a new camera and since everyone has DSLR, I want to own it too…just to see what’s all craze about…

    But I have zero skills in photography, I just know to press a button 🙂
    So I guess I am not going to buy a DSLR

    • Anil Singhal says:

      Hi.. Skills can be learnt. That is the easy part. But watch out for what the DSLR paraphernalia brings along. There are really so many nice prosumer cameras that are relatively compact and have about 10x zoom and you can shoot all kinds of things. Let me know if I can be any help:)

      • AT says:

        I wanted to add that the pic is amazing… I can’t believe that it is taken with a normal camera.. skills are everything, equipment may make things simple or very complex….

  3. Well Anil that is a good note though I have been advocating the opposite in all my photography workshops.

    The reason why I am doing this is that P&S and bridge cams give no control over aspects like DOF and exposure. True DSLR is perhaps less of “Jack of all trades” compared to an bridge camera but there is no reason why one should get into all genres of photography at once. For this as well as getting the best IQ I have been telling my student to go for DSLRs and if they are short budget go for a pre-owned one. I am quite sure that even a Nikon D70 (about 6 years back model) will blow out of water any current 12M P&S . I am also not very sure if you can photograph any animals and birds with these super zoom cams – they are too slow – one of my friends – who was not a novice bought one for that very purpose and gave up!

    In the end it depends on the interest one has in photography – just a casual snap shooting or doing something more – no harm with either – though the type of camera will depending on that.

    Just my two paise!

    Ashok.

    • Anil Singhal says:

      Ashokji, Your point is well taken and endorsed too. The slight difference between the audience you get and this article would be addressed is that you are talking about people who are already in your workshop and therefore promising a certain level of seriousness! I have in the course of my workshops found so many students who ended up buying a jazzy SLR (many with Nikon D90 or Canon 550D) and are therefore attending the beginners workshop just to figure what the monster is about. And they get overwhelmed with just doing the 3 controls! (ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed) And the writing is on the wall- They would either dump the DSLR of continue in the auto mode.

      I think is is indeed a good recommendation to buy second hand DSLR and I believe the most important decision is – are you serious about photography or just carried away! If you are willing to learn and ready to do certain amount of hard work then DSLR is gr8 !

      I’m planning to write another article- “OK, you decided to get a DSLR” – now what should be your minimum equipment or expectation on your purchase”. That should set the expectations! 🙂

  4. Nice post Anil… After owning a regular SLR, I decided to go for a compact digical becoz I figured out that I am always using ‘auto’ mode.. still due to ‘coolness’ factor, I ended up buying a DSLR and guess what, I am using it in auto mode all the time… 🙂

  5. Gunsreekanth says:

    Dear Anil, Thanks for a good article .These thoughts come to the minds of every newbie..Even after 2yrs i still cant decide which is the right thing to do for a newbie..But, I slightly differ in the opinion of not starting with a Dslr .

    A point and shoot (Bridge models) is just a place to start for an enthusiast . but once the basics are understood and one starts experimenting with the camera the P&S immediately becomes useless..

    A few reasons from my experience ( I had a beautiful Panasonic FZ 50 and Still I found the below issues)

    1. The Detail in the image is very low when compared to any DSLR . the megapixel is just a marketing gimmick.
    2. Noise.. and lack of details for any images above ISO 200.. So, when ever there is no bright light around…ur camera is just useless.. max usable ISO is generally not more than 400
    3. The bridge cameras have great zooms but they can never provide enough shutter speeds to support the focal lengths. ex: at 350mm (10X)… its a dream have a shutter speed of 1/350 to take a snap of a animal or bird ..

    Yes, Someone who is not interested to learn photography need not buy DSLR. For everyone else DSLR or Micro 4/3 is the way to start.

    • Anil Singhal says:

      Sreekanth. Again, this is exactly the point I’m trying to make that DSLR is great but it is not magical & one time purchase of DSLR-potentially with the kit lens is not going to do wonders. You will have to put lots of effort in learning or you will be just upgrading your equipment i,e substituting technology for your skills!

  6. I was in the transition period at one time. But I don’t want to be a professional photographer, I love documenting through photo stories though. I have found My Canon Powershot SX20 IS to be a good partner for my objectives. I decided, I liked having a relatively small camera that makes videos too.

    So your post helped me re-analyse my decision, and I am sticking to it 🙂
    Thanks

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