What I Want From a DSLR

Matthew – Before I can really help you, you really do need to be clear in your own mind as to exactly what it is you want to achieve with a DSLR, and in particularly how regularly you intend to use it for various ‘types’ of photography. For example, in my own case I first of all wanted a camera that would be much more responsive than my Sony F717. The Sony would take 1-2 seconds, sometimes, between shots before it could capture the image, refocus and be ready to take another shot! As my kids were beginning to play sports, I needed a more efficient way to capture the action. I also wanted a bit more pixel resolution than the 5 megapixels in my Sony, and a lot less noise than the Sony, especially in low light.

However, as I really thought through my own process of acquiring my DSLR I realized it was actually a significant point of development of me as a photographer. In essence, I started by seeking a more agile and functional tool, then became enthralled with the camera itself. I was then forced to re-examine my motivations as I realized I simply didn’t have the money to get what I thought I really wanted. I had to look around. This caused me to realize that I was confusing the objective and the means to get the objective. In my longing for a great (expensive and yes, very nice, but expensive) camera, I was really after the camera itself and not the photograph.

I realized I needed to reset my thinking a bit and began thinking more about really “seeing” images and figuring out what I really wanted to take pictures of. This has led me to truly see the camera as a tool that provides a means to an end. The version of the tool I have now has more capabilities than my F717 has by far. But, it also has some limitations that are becoming a bit difficult for me. This actually has more to do with my lenses than my camera body at the moment, but that’s for another day.

Chris – Thanks! If I knew that I doubt I would have such a big dilemma going on in my head.

Unfortunately there was no getting away from it though. This was the question that I needed to visit and re-vist until I was sure in my own mind.

Photography is a subject that I have always wanted to be interested in, but had never really found the time, or to be honest the temperament. I love the idea of spending a whole day up in the mountains taking pictures, or framing different shots of the same part of the marina, but when it comes down to it in the past I have been a quantity over quality person. I set off with good intentions but somehow lack the patience or the application.

Many (many) years ago when I was a teenager playing a lot of cricket in the UK I would spend hours at games taking pictures, but whilst that certainly whetted the appetite I have never really taking it any further. I have always had a camera and have always taken photographs, but more in a ‘spur of the moment’ way than a structured way. I think I have a good eye for a picture but I know this is totally different than creating a good photograph.

I have owned digital cameras since they first came out, and currently have two; a Sony DSC – F707 and a Sony DSC – T7. I use the T7 a lot when I am out and about in general as a fun camera, and I have recently been using the F707 more and more to take some pictures of the RockDoves and our cat, Moreno. I am still in a ‘rush’ though – I tend to take a lot of pictures without spending too much time setting the picture up, and then import them to three Macs, a PC and 4 Flickr accounts. And that is really part of the problem – I am a rusher who hates to have projects and things ‘to do’ hanging around to be done another day.

The good news is that I am getting better, not least because we have made a real effort to simplify our life, slow the pace down and concentrate on doing less things but do them better. SO far this is working well, so getting a DSLR is part of this plan. I want to take a lot longer creating and capturing the picture, a lot longer managing the image after the event, and to simplify how many Flickr accounts and computers I upload the pictures to.

Getting back to the question though, there are three specific objectives that I have in mind:

– I want to take pictures (both action and close up) of our cat, Moreno, and the Rock Doves that live on the cliff behind us,
– I want to take some trips on the Harley and take some pictures of Spain (landscape) and culture (buildings, cities, people), and
– I want to develop a project I have in mind to really document and capture the marina that we live in.

I suppose that makes it an ‘all round’ requirement, but I doubt I will take many ‘snaps’ or night pictures (with a flash) as I have the T7 for that, and I may keep the F707 as well (although I really should sell that once I get a DSLR)

Hope that helps? It seems that our start point is very similar, and our objectives closely aligned, so hopefully I can benefit from your experience!

12 thoughts on “What I Want From a DSLR

  1. Wayne LeFevre

    Well, really small world, isn’t it? We’re about to make our first purchase of a DSLR. Most likely the Canon Rebel XT. Why that one? It’s gotten consistent reviews as the best beginner/intermediate DSLR. Time after time I’ve seen in different magazines it being at or near the top of their best camera list. (Including Macworld.)
    I’m getting the XT instead of the XTi because I personally don’t think I need that extra 2 MP. Also, because of the XTi, the XT can be had for around $599 including the lense. Yes, I’ve also read that the stock lense isn’t the absolute greatest, but anything is better than the small point-and-shoot that we have now! (Olympus Stylus 300.)

  2. Wayne LeFevre

    Leopard. No question. Matter of fact, I’m thinking of delaying my next computer purchase until Leopard comes out. I’m all set for either a tricked out iMac 24″, or a bottom of the line Mac Pro, since I already have the 24″ Dell monitor but no room for two 24″ monitors. 🙁

  3. MyAppleStuff Post author

    I will get Leopard for sure and iLife07 probably. Brings me to a question/thought. I want to buy them. I would install them all 3 Macs (although I should probably by three copies of each I wouldn’t).

    I also want another Mac mini (maybe yours!!!) so I was figuring buy a Mac mini with Leapors and iLife07 and find a way to copy that over to the 3 Macs. Then the deduct the value of the software from the Mac mini price, deduct $100 for the external druve factor i.e. it gives me more storage, and hey presto the ‘actual’ Mac mini has cost me hardly anything!!!

    That all depends on whether I can extract Leopard and iLife07 from any new Mac? I somehow doubt it – which brings me back to your Mac mini 🙂 I just want one that I can hook up to the TV permanantly, run FrontRow (I have the external Mira hub), and connect to my existing network via ethernet so I can transfer stuff quickly. I don’t want it as an actual computer!!!

  4. cptpoland

    Over christmas I got the Rebel XTI and I can attest that the stock lens that comes with the camera is really really basic. Since then I have bought a Sigma 18-120 lens to replace the stock one. So Wayne if you are interested and can get the XT without the lens, I can let you have the stock lens from my XTi for dirt cheap…. and I mean dirt cheap 🙂
    Let me know…


  5. Wayne LeFevre

    Thanks cptpoland. My wife already went out and got the XT. It arrived yesterday, and it did have the stock lens on it. Personally, I think it’s a decent lens, so that lets you know where my skill level is at!

  6. MyAppleStuff Post author

    Well the picture of the Mic (posted to Flickr) looks sharp! You shooting in RAW (see I sound like a pro already!!!)

  7. Mac Sokulski

    It was a thought 🙂 Hope you enjoy your XT as much as I enjoy my XTi. To tell the truth RAW is the only way to shoot. As far as I know, RAW has no compression what so ever, and then you “develop” the pictures on your computer either in Aperture or Photoshop or which ever software came with the camera. Personally I’m using Aperture, but I know I’m just scratching the surface. My dillema right now is actually on the reverse. I’m looking for a small point and shoot. Something that I can take with me, that takes decent photos, and it’s easy to cary arround. As great as the DSLR is, it’s not a easy camera to carry around. Any suggestions?

  8. MyAppleStuff Post author

    I love my Sony DSC-T7. It has 5.1 Pixels, is really slim and powers up really quickly. I rarely venture out without it. Take a look at the pictures of our cat flickr.com/photos/onlyonemoreno as the majority of those where taken with it

  9. cptpoland

    Thanks for the suggestion. I went to the local Sony store to have a closer look. Of course they did not have the T7, but T10. It’s essentialy the same with updated specifications, but…. I have settled on the Canon SD800 IS. I really like the Sony T series, but I have one problem with them: Memory Stick. I don’t like the fact that besides the Sony camera it’s practically useless. Which is very unfortunate, because the T series are very slick, light and easy to handle cameras. The Canon should arrive tomorrow. We will see how well it performs.

  10. MyAppleStuff Post author

    I have had memory sticks for years! I currently have a VAIO desktop and a VAIO notebook, and two Sony digital cameras, and an old Sony Camcorder so I have enough things to stick an MS in 🙂

    Look forward to hearing all about the Canon, I can feel a review for the blog coming on 🙂

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