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SLR vs SLR-like: WHAT SHOULD I BUY?

Max Baklayan , Apr 08, 2008; 07:32 p.m.

i am planning to buy a camera; however i am not fluent with the photographers language, YET. i was thinking to buy me a SLR-like camera - more presicely te FUJI FINEPIX S100FS. however a friend of mine told me that this camera will become obsolete like all other slr-like pretty soon. so he recomended me to buy the CANON EOS 450D OR THE EOS 400D. as much as i understand DSLR's are much better also given the fact that I REALLY LIKE LOW LIGHT INDOOR IMAGES. the question is WHAT IS THE TRADE OFF......the SLRs are bulky but potent the slr- like is less bulky - but is it really that much inferior, especially the fuji s100fs. i would appreciate all comments and help. thanx Max

Responses


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Cliff Henry - So. Texas , Apr 08, 2008; 08:03 p.m.

Max,

Your friend is correct - ALL cameras are obsolete shortly after their introduction. If you wait for the next best model you'll never get there.

Your question is very difficult for anyone but you to answer because much depends on how you are going to use the camera and the final resulting images. Basically, when you purchase a (D)SLR body you are buying into a camera system - as you grow in your photography skills and needs the system is expandable to meet your needs.

Many beginners will start with a point and shoot camera and find they like photography and want to learn more. At that point they usually move up to a (D)SLR system. Others will never find the need for more that a basic P/S camera.

I know this does not help but you may just have to "jump in" and try for yourself.

This site may help in comparing different cameras:

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/Fujifilm/

Juergen Sattleru , Apr 08, 2008; 08:08 p.m.

Max. it all depends how serious you want to be with your photography. I know many folks who are very happy with their DSLR-like cameras and never wish for anything more. They typically are the snap-shot users who take pictures of their kids, pets and the occasional vacation shots.

If you want to be more creative and really get into photography, then there is no alternative to a real DSLR.

I do not agree with your friend's point that "only" DSLR-like cameras will become obsolete quickly. Look at the DSLR sucessions so far - a new model every 24 months, almost like clock work. That does not mean that you have to upgrade all the time - true for all kinds of cameras, incl. DSLRs.

TM Cleland , Apr 08, 2008; 08:12 p.m.

Just get the SLR. Nikon's D40(x) and Canon's Rebels will yield you good photos, they're reasonably priced (less than the 400D <b>or</b> the Fuji), and pretty lightweight. Moreover, if you see yourself growing as a photographer, you're less likely to outgrow the SLR, at least in the short-term. I don't do a whole lot of low-light with my Nikon, but what I've done in that capacity has been good.

To a degree, all of our D-SLR's are going to become obsolete; in fact, many are probably obsolete when you open the box! Resolution, features, improved high-ISO on and on are going to get better as time goes on, and technology progresses. In any case, if you're happy with the results you're getting from your camera, regardless of it's age, someone else's idea of "obsolete" won't be an issue.

Hope this helps.

Tim

Howard Fuhrman , Apr 08, 2008; 08:17 p.m.

If you are going to buy a relatively large camera camera, why settle for one with a small sensor? Either go for a small pocket camera and have the convenience of small size and light weight or go with one of the smaller DSLR's. With the the DSLR, they are more responsive, have better high ISO IQ, have great flexibility with multiple lens selection. Bear in mind that the DSLR with one or two quality lens are substantially more expensive than a DSLR-like camera.

Howard

Thomas McKown , Apr 08, 2008; 08:30 p.m.

The s100fs does look to be a decent camera for an "SLR-like" camera. I have to say though that if image quality (especially in low light situations) is your main concern, definitely go with an SLR. One thing to remember is the sensor size - bigger is better. The s100fs' sensor is only 8.80mm by 6.60mm in size while a typical SLR sensor is 22.2mm by 14.8mm in size. These large sensors produce a much cleaner image and are much more effective in poorly lit scenarios. Canon (with their CMOS sensors) is known for their high ISO shooting ability and is a great way to go. Another thing to remember is that with increased MP count, pixel effectiveness and sensitivity goes down. I have noticed that my 10mp XTi actually does worse in low light than my friends 8mp 20D. Both of these cameras are going for around $500usd on the used market and the 20D seems to be the better performer, all be it with a few less features. I personally would not buy the 12mp XSi as you can buy a camera that (in theory) performs likely as good or better for less money.

Trade off:

SLR-like Digicam pros: It does more with a single lens than most SLR lenses do. It is more compact.

Cons: Image quality isnt that great, especially in low light. Little or no lens options so no room to grow or improve.

SLR Pros: Great image quality, especially in low light or at high ISO. Canon has over 50 EF and EF-S lenses to choose from. Image quality. Holds value longer. Image quality. And the biggest thing for me, image quality.

Cons. They are expensive, especially when considering lenses. They are also bulky, some more than others. The XTi is very small and light next to the 20D, but both are big and heavy next to most digicams.

Hope this could be of some help. I moved from my SLR-like SOny DSC-H1 a few years ago to a Canon XTi and have never looked back. In fact, I gave my Sony to a friend who couldnt afford a camera and I dont miss it a bit.

Bueh B. , Apr 08, 2008; 10:51 p.m.

1.) If image quality is important, (physical) sensor size is everything!

2.) All dSLRs have a sensor much larger than digicams or "SLR-like cameras". (There a few exceptions with high-priced, specialized cameras like the Sigma DP1.)

3.) If low-light capabilities are important, nothing beats a large-sensor camera for high-ISO noise control.

4.) A further advantage is the option to use fast primes lenses, which work on most dSLRs (but not all -- I'm looking at you, Nikon!). No digicam has a maximum aperture larger than f/2 (and even that's are rare case). Compare this to the various f/1.4 primes available in many focal lengths for the major brands.

5.) But if you are looking for an excellent one-lens solution with many great features, get a high-end digicam instead. Getting most the features a Canon PowerShot G9 offers is VERY expensive if you choose a dSLR instead, but the G9 will always have the smaller sensor and no interchangeable lens (to say nothing about the cumbersome, menu-driven user-interface).

Addendum: Stay away from the entry-level gear (D40, the Rebels etc.). On these cameras corners were cut to make them as inexpensive as possible, the trade-off are nightmarish ergonomics, toyish build quality and some annoying limitations (e.g., no primes autofocus on the D40).

Steve Solomon , Apr 08, 2008; 11:51 p.m.

HI Max. I won't repeat what's already been said, but just want to emphasize that the big trade offs between a DSLR and a "compact" digicam (like the Fuji S100FS) are: image quality, speed, cost, and convenience. For what it's worth, I use the Fuji S9100. For images in good available light, it is quite satisfactory. As you approach low light and go above ISO 400, the image quality deteriorates so that anything above about a 5x7 inch print is not pleasant. However, the Fuji s100FS is supposed to be much better, due to the larger CMOS sensor, new lens, and better image processing engine. This remains to be seen, but the specs look enticing! Plus, when others recommend a DSLR, (and I do too, for the best image quality), they forget that you cannot get the same focal length coverage that the Fujinon 28-400 mm provides, not to mention the portability, film simulation modes, movie mode, tilting display, etc. I am the first to admit that the DSLR (especially the Nikon D300) yields the best image quality for under $2000, but again, that's just the body, no lenses! That's why I'm investigating the Fuji s100FS "bridge' camera, while I save my pennies. My advice: wait for the formal reviews of the Fuji s100FS...surely one of the best "compact" digicams on the market! And lastly, I don't like the word "obsolescence", because as others have stated, if your camera takes pleasing images today, its quality will always be as good, despite the march of technology. Besides, I think that we may be at a point of diminishing returns when it comes to digital imaging (at least the DSLR). Does the average person really need 12 megapixels anyway, when you can enlarge a good quality 8 or 10 megapixel image to 30 x 40 inches with good quality. Good luck to you! Steve

Chris Eastwood , Apr 09, 2008; 12:19 a.m.

there is quite a bit of sound advice above

consider a second hand SLR (you won't pay for the obsolescence) a good condition used (say) Canon 10D will take images nearly as good as the current model cameras. You can try it and learn from it, perhaps selling it (I'll not be selling mine anytime soon) to upgrade for next to no loss.

The "slr-like" copies have tiny sensors, so getting 6, 8 or even 10 megapixels from them is like ordering a small pizza and having it sliced into 12 and thinking you're getting as much pizza as a family size.

I've got some thoughts in more detail on this subject on my web site, if you're interested have a quick read of that (its not highly technical)

HTH

JC Uknz , Apr 09, 2008; 04:43 a.m.

You can be creative with any kind of camera. Creativity comes from inside you, not the camera. In my experience the pro-sumer camera is more useful than the supposedly versatile DSLR which is only that with a whole lot of accessories.

If like me you rarely shoot in low light levels then you are unlikely have need of the DSLR with its larger sensor which permits you to use higher ISO. When I take a shot in low light the subject always permits me to make a longer exposure with the camera adequately supported so I never shoot at other than 100ISO, like I did with film.

The SLR-Like or Pro-sumer gives you more operating bang for your buck.

Buying a DSLR is like buying a boat ... which is a hole in the ocean to pour money into [ I currently own a 26ft yacht :-) ] Which is a minor reason why I value my pro-sumer .. Panasonic FZ50 which approaches the size and weight of a DSLR so I'm not looking for compactness.

As important as the camera and learning to use it is the purchase of a good editing programme becuase you should consider the camera and editor as complimentary tools in the production of the final article. What you learn to do in editing can have a strong influence on how you make the exposure in the first place.

I have both pro-sumer and DSLR and 99% of what I do is done with the former becuase it is a nicer camera to work with. To me the DSLR is a specialist camera for ultra close work and low light ... both of which I rarely have the inclination to do ... so the DSLR just sits in its case almost 7/24 :-) If my pro-sumer is in the car and I want to take a shot at home I likely would use the DSLR to save walking out to the car.

I well believe that the pro-sumer type of camera may become obselete and may not be made in the future .. but that will not be becuase it is a poor design, poor functionality etc but rather becuase of the marketing campaigns of Canon/Nikon etc. Just as Sony's superb Beta system for video fell foul of the VHS format which is/was just plain crap except for the amateur who shot and then showed without editing their camera footage. Beta becoming the profesional medium until surpassed by digital.


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