Why a DSLR Anyway?

20 May 2010 10:00:00 AM AEST



Anyone who has had the dubious pleasure of listening to a Justin Bieber fan trying to articulate the appeal of a star who seemingly can’t even exude testosterone let alone charisma will know photographic terminology can be just as baffling. Often those considering upgrading from a compact camera to a DSLR can’t escape the idea that suddenly the whole thing seems very complicated, just like Justin can’t help running into packs of screaming girls between blow drying his hair. The good news is a DSLR needn’t be complicated unless you want it to be. 



There was a time when enthusiast  photographers had to do all sorts of adjustments and measuring and alterations just to take a picture of their cat.   Those days are well behind us.  Today, the entry level DSLR’s such as the Nikon D3100 or Canon 1100D/550D to  even the semi-professional Canon 7D have a an AUTO mode: point and shoot.  Your cat could do that - I know mine can.  But the benefits are still there anyway.  DSLR cameras have much larger imaging sensors - the part that captures the light to take the picture - which results in a photograph with much more detail. 



What was a going to be a photograph of a puckered collection of wrinkles taken with a compact actually becomes a portrait of my mother in law taken with a Pentax K7. The killer detail for most however is the speed with which DSLR cameras operate.  The minimum rate on the current cameras is at least two frames per second.  C



ompare that to past experiences when the subject of your photograph is walking out of the room when you pressed the button when they were sitting on the couch. Moments worth photographing are often fleeting - an instant response time is an essential tool in the photographer’s kit.  Hence the popularity of DSLR’s with parents: kids do everything but sit still. Suffice to say when you read in your research  - about ISO capabilities, maximum shutter speed, dynamic range, noise reduction, barrel distortion plus vignetting and bracketing and image stabilization -  its easy to get the idea that you are in over your head. However, for most of us a lot of it can remain a mystery.  SLR functions explained I don’t pretend to understand it all myself, just as my niece doesn’t understand why she is taller than Justin Bieber when she is five years younger. The camera can do most of the work. If you want to learn how to tweak the settings for stronger images the potential is there but it needn’t be thought necessary. The dictionary can stay on the shelf - the camera shouldn’t though.  The words may need explanation but pictures never do. 

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