Switching to a Digital SLR Camera for photography

Using a Digital SLR is very different from using a compact camera. It is far more complicated to use with its myriad settings and accessories. And it is definitely not cheap! Getting the body was the first step to building a suitable camera system. Since it is costly to equip yourself with sufficient system to take good photography picture, you need to know your budget, plus building and using a DSLR camera is a very personal thing.

For those who thought that getting the best of the best for a DSLR camera body; think again. What’s the point of blowing your whole year’s salary on a US$5000 camera body when you end up without the budget to get proper lens and other accessories? Getting the best of the very best is for those who are filthy rich. For the rest of us, getting a really good decent camera body is what you should aim for. Most pros are still using Canon Rebel or EOS system which cost about US$1000. Even with these cameras, they are able to take extremely superb photography. As they said, it is not the equipment, but the person behind the lens that determines how well a picture is taken. Of course good equipment helps, but that is secondary to the skill and technique of the photographer.

Here’s an interesting tip: never lend your DSLR unless the person agreed not to touch and change any settings. Why? Using a DSLR is a very personal thing. Besides, the DSLR is very complicated with many intricate settings. Messing around with the settings will throw your picture taking capability off. I made the mistake of letting some photography enthusiast youths to have look see. They change some settings which I was not aware off, and I ended up with a camera that didn’t focus and bad noise. Fortunately these were simple settings but still it took me a few shots to figure out why my camera was not working the way it should. So imagine if other settings like custom functions, picture style settings or white balance settings were changed? It would have been disaster!

Some people like to talk big, show off their knowledge, but when it comes to practical, fail miserably. They would say, “Why you buy such a camera? Why you didn’t buy that better model?” blah, blah, blah… Yeah, like money grows on trees. Don’t forget, getting a body is just one part of the equation. There are the all important lenses to go with the camera. Lens can be very cheap for example kit lens are really cheap, good for starting out. Later you will need some all purpose lenses that could at least take some landscape photography and portrait photography. Lens can compliment well with the body if well chosen or could be a disappointment. I was checking out some lens from my brother-in-law, the Canon EF28-135mm with F3.5 IS lens was quite good, able to focus pretty fast. While the Canon EF55-250mm with f4-5.6 IS lens was very poor, with a lot of lag when trying to get an AF lock. The former was quite expensive and it could do most of the job that was required from it. Yet, some people would say why don’t you get a better lens? Yeah, why this, why that… blah, blah, blah. Some people just don’t have anything good to say. Wait till you get your own camera system then you know.

To complete the camera system, a flash unit would be required. There are many types available in the market. However a cheap one would not do the job well. But if that was your budget then no choice. However after listening to my brother-in-law’s advise and checking out a few website, I decided to spend the necessary dollars for a Speedlite 580EX II by Canon. It was not cheap at US$500 but worth the price paid. The Canon Speedlite 580EX II flash power was very powerful, has very quick recharge time and yet did not drain the 4 AA batteries like some of the less capable flash unit. This was very important especially in a wedding reception or event function. Its automatic TTL function communicates with the Canon body and discharges the flash power according to the camera Av, Tv settings as well as the AF and lens zoom setting. In addition, it can be set to Master or Slave flash unit to set up a simple studio like usage. Its multiple function capability makes it a very good accessory to have in a Canon EOS camera system.

Having built up your camera system, you should not neglect the all important aspect: your photographic skill. Capturing good photos involves opening your eyes to see what is in a scene and at the same time determine what kind of settings you should go on the camera to capture your snapshot. This takes learning and practice. Buying books and magazine will help sharpen your skill. If you are willing, spending money in seminars to just learn some tips from the pros is another way. Finally it is going out into the field to actually practice your skill and technique. And later going back to your desktop PC to assess your photo perhaps together with likeminded friends and learn what was wrong or right with your picture and hopefully improve from it.

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5 thoughts on “Switching to a Digital SLR Camera for photography”

  1. n oh ya. i forgot smth. although u say money doesnt grow in trees, but u seem loaded. core 2 duo, new communication device, highest power flash….and others which i do not wish to state.

    n btw, the so called “some photography enthusiast youths” wouldnt b able to change complicated settings la. coz they wouldnt know n they are not familiar with the canon filesystem. so they would juz play with some shutter, aperture or iso settings which u told them how to change mahh…..right? although it is still possible to look for the settings reset button or option somewhere easily….haha

  2. The great thing about dslr’s is that there is plenty second-hand stuff available πŸ™‚
    The not so great thing is that you can still easily spend way too much money πŸ˜‰

    Anyway, it is true … technology helps you to make good pictures more easily, but only skills help you to make better pictures. That means having at least basic understanding of composure, light, and post processing.

  3. Hi all,

    Useful info on the lens. I am thinking of getting my 1st dslr either cannon 1000d or nikon 60. price wise still affordable by mthly installment as most banks offer free interest and processiong fee. Have been checking out lately and gathering info on both brands. I guess both equally good in terms of quality and offers. My decision of getting the 1000d will be extremely high and 1000d as entry level for dslr will be all right for me. Hope will be the right choice.

  4. Nicely written article about DSLR camera. Agree with you, lens plays a vital role more than dslr body.

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