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Selecting a Camera: DSLR Cameras

The next question when shopping for a camera: what do you buy when the picture is the thing? Sometimes just venturing forth to take a picture is a fun day in and of itself. Yes, you buy a camera that is small and light so you can hike and take pictures. Yes, you can buy a rough and tough camera so you can adventure and take pictures. Yes, you can buy a camera phone so you can get naked and take pictures in front of a bathroom mirror. However, to take really detailed beautiful pictures, you’ll need a different mainstay. What takes the most detailed, beautiful pictures? The answer comes together in DSLR cameras.

Girl taking photo

Girl taking photo

Before buying a DSLR camera, you should know why you want to purchase it. First off, the image sensor is larger and therefore can absorb more detail than the smaller image sensor in a point and shoot camera. The other reason is the ability to change lenses. Telephoto, wide angle and macro lenses allow you to do much more with your photographic eye than just pressing the button. For example, the elk in the distance can look like it is next to you instead of a dot in the middle of a field. Yes, you can get closer with the optical zoom on a point and shoot camera, but you will only end up kind of close and the picture could be grainy. With a DSLR, you’ll get a better picture because of the image sensor size and the ability to use a strong telephoto lens.

(BTW – quick lesson in the meaning of SLR, or single-lens reflex. These were cameras constructed to give you a true image through the viewfinder as a mirror would rotate and reflect the image as seen through the lens to your viewfinder. With digital cameras now showing the image on the back of the camera, while the construct of the DSLR is the same, the idea of a real image through the viewfinder is no longer a big selling point.)

Of course for these features, you’re going to have to pay a lot more than you would for a simple point and shoot. Here are a few choices.

Nikon – D3000 – $550: For not much more than a fancy point and shoot, the Nikon D3000 offers the additional DSLR quality. Although the 10.2 MP amount looks to be small, because of the larger image sensor, you can still blow up the image to 20 by 30 inches.

Sony – a500 – $650: The Sony builds to a 12.3 MP value for the additional money and adds a few other features. Chief among them is a tilting three-inch LCD screen so that you can check your focus in an area larger than the viewfinder and even zoom into the detail to be sure your focused at the smallest possible level.

Canon – EOS Rebel T2i – $900: Ok, now we’re talking megapixels. The EOS Rebel (hey Andre Agassi really was a rebel – he wore a toupee when they weren’t coo!) has 18 MP of definition and shoots 1080p HD video. After that, it gets into the geeky camera specification analysis with a feature like a dual layer sensor with a 63 zone metering system. (As far as I can tell, this means that you have to think less about light and color, as your camera will do it for you.)

Olympus – E-30 – $1,000: Only 12.3 MP might seem light, but we’re still talking that large image sensor. The cool factor of the Olympus E-30 is its art filter feature. Do you want your pictures to look like an Andy Warhol portrait? Use the Pop Art filter. Do you want your picture to look like a movie flashback? Use Pale and Light Color filter. Do you want your picture of your little brother to look like a bad Bigfoot picture? Use the Grainy Film filter.

Pentax camera

Pentax camera

Pentax – K-7 – $1,300: The Pentax K-7 offers 14.6 MP of resolution and a 77 segment metering system (which again is a fancy way of saying it will take a good picture without you having to do much thinking.) It does 720p HD video as well, but in terms of both MP and HD, it does come in a bit lower than the Canon Rebel.

Obviously, this is just a start in the types of DSLR cameras available. It is also just a start in terms of the camera itself, as additional lenses will cost you more, but give you more of an opportunity to take fantastic pictures. If for you it is all about the image, then get your DSLR soon, because the step up from your point and shoot will be significant.

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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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