Just last week, I have brought my first DSLR camera: a Canon EOS 450D with the default objective EFS 18-55mm. For the last 4-5 years I have used compact cameras to create stock photos, and since they managed to pay for themselves, I've decided that it was the time to pass on the next level. I this article I will try to present my feelings on this transition.
I've started my path into the photography world while doing my master studies in Tokyo, Japan. It was for the first time I've purchased myself a digital camera: Canon Ixus 5MP, and soon I fell in love with photography. Here are some of my most successful shots taken with this entry level camera:
Two years ago, as the technology advanced, I have decided to upgrade to a better compact digital camera: Canon Powershot G7, at that time one of the best compact cameras. And indeed it was:
All this years, I grew to love some features available only to compact cameras as their compactness and the LiveView mode (fully functional). The size of the camera is always a very important aspect cause it offers you better freedom to access remote places and interesting angles and you do not need to carry a big tripod always around with you. For some years, I have carried always with me a pocket tripod and with the first camera upgrade
I have brought a normal size one (when installed), but much more compact for carrying than a classical one, which is always in the glove box of my car. I never liked to use the view finder, which is still one of the only ways to compose a image when using SLR cameras and I found the LiveView function of composing the image on the LCD screen a critical feature. As I wear glasses, I find very impracticable to use the view finder, as well as to compose a shot using a small tripod or strange angles and I always wonder why didn't they implement the same technology for SLR cameras.
This 2 critical points kept me away from professional equipment for the last years. I believe that if you learn to use the compact cameras, the quality you get can be compared with the SLR ones. Indeed, the quality and the size of the sensor and lens produce more noise, but the compactness allow more light the reach the sensor and you can work with lower ISO numbers and smaller exposure times. With some post-processing time, you can get the same final result.
However, what finally made me switch to SLR was the limits imposed on the aperture (I don't think you can go over F10 in compact cameras) and exposure time (limited I think around 15-20''). Also, I wanted to experiment HDR technique, and the Powershot G7 did not had any features suitable for this, although I understand that newer versions of this series (now at G10) have. The fact that some SLR started introducing LiveView mode to composing the photo also helped...
Hence, here I am, experimenting with my first SLR: Canon EOS 450D. For the last week, I am trying to get familiar with the camera behavior in low light conditions to understand its limitations. Here are the first attempts taken during last weekend while visiting Lyon, France
Although noise free at low ISO numbers, the night images seemed to me a little soft even if I change the aperture to higher values... I guess, I'll still have to work more on understanding it... But nevertheless, with a sharpen filter in post-processing the images are in tip-top condition. I am however bumped by the fact that one cannot focus automatically in LiveView mode, so until I figure it out if possible, I am using the viewfinder, which is painful...
I have yet to experiment with the HDR technique, and my findings will be presented in some other blog entry. Until then, I a curious about your thoughts about the differences between a SLR and a compact camera...