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Tech Tip
by Brad Appleby
Appleby Arts

Digital SLR Cameras


If you have any topics that you would like to find out more about, or a topic for my article, just e-mail me: brad@applebyarts.com, or call me at (702) 294-1392. Visit my web site at www.applebyarts.com.

For those of you curious about Single Lens Reflex (SLR) Cameras, here’s some helpful information. Single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras use an automatic moving mirror system which permits the photographer to see exactly what will be captured, as opposed to non-SLR cameras where the view through the viewfinder is different from what's captured.

What type of SLR camera do you need? First, you need to decide what you are going to use your SLR camera for. If it is sports and wildlife, you will need a fast camera with a high frame rate. If you want to shoot in low light you will need an SLR camera with the best possible high ISO performance and in-body image stabilization. If you what to shoot portrait or macro work, you might want to have “live view” as a high priority in your SLR camera. Do you need a rugged or weatherproof camera? Does the size and weight of the camera play an important role in your choice? How about the manufacturer? Keep in mind that you might have old lenses that will work on your new SLR camera.

Sensor Size
The physical size of the sensor determines how much information will be stored in your photos. There are three basic sizes for SLR cameras: Full frame (largest size) which means that your image will not be cropped from what the camera sees; APS-C (medium size) is the most commonly used format; and Four Thirds (smallest size) which is a new format that will require you to buy a new lens for your camera and produces noisier (grainer) pictures in low light.

Anti-Shake Systems
Image stabilization systems reduce the blur caused by SLR camera shake, allowing sharper pictures to be taken even in low light or at long focal lengths. Some of these anti-shake systems are in the body, and some are in the lens.

With respect to image stabilizers, you'll pay more but they are well worth it. I have taken photos of birds in flight with no blur at all. Without an image stabilizer, the photos may have been blurred. If you don't use an image stabilizer, you should use a tripod. Here are two different lenses and their cost difference: Canon EF 70-300mm, f/4-5.6 IS USM with image stabilizer, $549.99; Canon EF-S 55-250mm, f/4-5.6 without image stabilizer, $249.99.

Speed
All SLR cameras will take pictures faster than most compact digital cameras. When deciding on speed, check on the continuous shooting frame rate of the camera. Some of the basic rates are around 2.5 to 3 frames per second. If you are shooting sports activities, you may want the higher frames per second to get more photos. The faster processor speeds will allow you to save more pictures quicker.

Size, Weight and Durability
I suggest that you go to a camera store and compare the different SLR cameras by picking them up and checking the actual weight and size. When you start carrying around your camera and gear, the weight will make a big difference. The bigger SLR cameras have bigger lenses, which means more weight. The ultra compact lightweight SLRs can give you a great camera without the weight.

Screens and Live View
When you first use an SLR camera, you will find that some of the models will only allow you to view your picture through the viewfinder. With your basic digital camera you would take your picture through the live view screen on the back of the camera. Now there are new SLR cameras that do have a live view to take the pictures, but this comes at a cost, and the speed of taking your picture will be slower.

Advanced Photography Features
The higher end SLR cameras provide more customization options for the professional photographer. If you are just deciding to buy an SLR camera and have not owned an SLR camera before, you might want to start at the low cost end and get a feel for what you want. There is now an SLR camera that can also take movies. This is a big deal for the SLR cameras because before this model came out, all SLRs were for pictures only.

One Last Word
Buying an SLR camera is the first step in investing in a camera system. You will want to buy a system you can upgrade in the future. If you buy an SLR camera and lens, then you decide to get a more professional model, you want to make sure you can use your old lens on your new camera.

For beginners, I would suggest the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi Digital SLR camera. The camera comes with Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS Lens, Battery Pack, Battery Charger, Video Cable, USB Interface Cable, Wide Strap, and EOS Digital Solution Disc, all for $699. You can upgrade your camera body to the Canon EOS 50D Digital SLR Camera Body for about $1,400 down the road, and still use the same lens.

For more information on this and other tech issues, contact Brad at (702) 294-1392 or www.applebyarts.com.




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