Posts Tagged ‘SLR’

How to Choose an SLR

Another friend of mine recently asked me what SLR I would recommend they get for seriously starting into photography. While there’s no easy answer to this question, it is easy to follow steps to know for yourself which camera is best for you, serious or not. Below, I have written out what I told my friend and, though it is in no way comprehensive (and very similar to what I have written about Compact Cameras in the past), I hope it will jumpstart your quest of finding the right SLR for you!

1. Determine Purpose

Do you just want to capture memories? Are you a beginner and want to learn how SLRs work? Do you  just want to jump in and see if photography is your thing? Or do you seriously love photography and aspire to be a professional one day? Are you already a professional? Knowing exactly why you want a camera is what will help you make decisions down the road.

2. Determine Budget

In general, the camera you want will cost more than you expect, so be prepared for that. However, since you are already putting forward a large amount of money, don’t forget to ask yourself why it would or would not be worth it to put forward a little more. Also, be reminded that photography equipment depreciates rapidly and a typical SLR will stop working within 5 years. So with this in mind, I generally recommend camera/lens start-up budgets in the following way:

  • Capturing memories: $50-$250
  • Beginner: $250-$1000
  • Serious amateur: $1000-$3000
  • Professional: $3000+

When I bought my first camera, I considered myself a Serious Amateur (because I had already learned on my Dad’s camera), and paid $1,200 for my first camera and lens.

3. Determine Brand

Do your research, but the two best-bang-for-your-buck brands are Canon and Nikon. Just remember that, because lenses are not interchangeable between these two brands, you are buying into an entire system that you’ll probably use for the rest of your life.

4. Conduct Research

Once you’ve chosen a brand, research what that brand’s line of cameras have to offer and determine what features are most important to you. Remember that for every advantage, there will probably be a price disadvantage. Some factors to keep in mind are:

  • Sensor size and type
  • Low light capability (ISO settings)
  • Video capability
  • Frames per second
  • Ease of accessing settings
  • Durability

Dig in deep, find out what cameras have to offer and what different terms mean. Because I’m a Canon user, I categorize the Canon SLR lineup in the following way:

  • Beginner: Rebel lineup. Takes excellent photos though not that durable and difficult to access settings quickly from my experience.
  • Serious amateur: D lineup (40D-7D). Very durable and user efficient, but without the features of the pros.
  • Professional: Mark lineup. Nearly indestructible, full-frame, incredible ISO, everything you would ever need or want.

Lenses are a different story. Begin with the cheaper ones (not cheapest) and work your way to the L-series as you earn money. They make a difference, but it’s not a big enough difference for starting photographers. But I will say this, ever since buying my first L-series a year and a half ago, I don’t think I’ll ever buy anything less.

5. Choose the Camera

By the time you get to this step, you’ll probably already know which one is best. It’s a gut feeling. However, I often find myself spending a lot of time just making sure that the one that LOOKS like what I want is REALLY the one I want.

6. Buy It

Buying new equipment is best, but it is more expensive so I recommend settling for Refurbished equipment. Here are my recommendations for where to actually make the purchase. Ebay works too, but just beware of used equipment. Often you just never know what it’s been through and a scratch on the body doesn’t often tell the whole story. But wherever you buy, wait for good deals. If I have a few weeks or months before I need a piece of equipment, I’ll wait to see if anything amazing pops up. Just remember that shipping doesn’t happen over night.

And one last thought: I want to upgrade my own camera, so if your research leads you to a D lineup Canon camera, than I can give you more details about the 40D that I am selling. Basically, It’s a used Canon 40D body with a practically unused 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens for $550. All accessories included. I bought the refurbished body and new lens for around $1100 three years ago. Practically every picture on this website was taken with that camera. Just shoot me an e-mail at!

0096_Many Glacier-Montana-USA_Canon EOS 40D, 24 mm, 1-5 sec at f - 11, ISO 100

Photo taken in Glacier National Park with the Canon 40D.

Shoot Manual!

Just learning how to use an SLR? Is the multitude of settings a little overwhelming? Not sure how to use the manual modes?

Persevere! Don’t waste your SLR by using the automatic settings! Learn to shoot with the manual modes (Av, Tv, M) every time you pick up the camera. That’s what I did, and I’ve never regretted it. Yes, it was confusing at first, but once I got the hang of it, I’ve never used anything else.

Here’s a little chart I threw together for someone not too long ago that will help you get started. When you come across a specific shooting situation, move to the manual modes and use the formulas set out below. Experiment, keep experimenting, and experience the novelty of reciprocity!

Manual Photography

Click here for a printable version

For photographers with more experience, I’d like to hear your comments on how to make this document more accurate. What settings do you use for every-day shooting situations? What helps you the most when shooting in manual?

The D-SLR Lineup

I got an e-mail asking for details about Canon’s complete camera lineup. Compiled from a number of different websites, I think I’ve got a pretty good up-to-date list. Canon’s lineup is constantly being revised, so when new models are released, older models are discontinued. Though you can buy just about any one of these camera’s used online at a cheap price, the older models are becoming increasingly harder to find, as well as just plain impractical. Below, bolded entries indicate that the item is in Canon’s active lineup.

Entry Level:

    • August 2003: Rebel (EOS 300D)
    • February 2005: Rebel XT (EOS 350D)
    • August 2006: Rebel XTi (EOS 400D)
    • January 2008: Rebel XSi (EOS 450D)
    • June 2008: Rebel XS (EOS 1000D)
    • March 2009: Rebel T1i (EOS 500D)
    • May 2010: Rebel T2i (EOS 550D)

    Amateur Enthusiast Level:

    • February 2003: EOS 10D
    • August 2004: EOS 20D
    • February 2006: EOS 30D
    • August 2007: EOS 40D
    • August 2008: EOS 50D
    • September 2009: EOS 7D
    • August 2005: EOS 5D
    • September 2008: EOS 5D Mark II

    Professional Level:

    • November 2001: EOS 1D
    • April 2003: EOS 1Ds
    • August 2005: EOS 1D Mark II
    • February 2007: EOS 1D Mark III
    • October 2009: EOS 1D Mark IV
    • August 2007: EOS 1Ds Mark III

    As you may have already noticed, this list isn’t necessarily chronological. I listed them in order of my personal evaluation of performance capabilities.