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July 13, 2007


Matt F

Susan uses an SLR, which is fun to use and takes nice pictures--and provides the opportunity to spend a great deal of money on additional lenses, if you so desire--but they're somewhat bulky. Your other options are a point-and-shoot like what you have now, or something like this, which is sort of halfway in between the two other types. Once you figure out what general type of camera you want. For SLRs, you can get a good deal on the slightly older-model Canon Digital Rebel XT now that the higher resolution version is out (which doesn't really matter at this point unless you're printing out poster-sized prints). That's the camera I got.


Despite the fact that I am a Canon junkie (I have a 20D, and too many lenses), I think Nikon makes better low-end SLRs. The D40 is about $700, which is still kind of expensive, though.

SLRs are more bulky to carry around, but the quality is dramatically better than point and shoots. And they give you much more control over how you take the photo, so you really learn more.

That being said, I also have a Canon PowerShot SD800IS that I carry around all the time, since it's not big and bulky. I recommend that, or whatever its latest incarnation is, if you do decide you want a point-and-shoot.

Also, hi, Catherine! I have read your site for years, but never commented before. Talking camera equipment always brings me out of lurk mode.

information leafblower

Yeah, what Matt and Victoria said. It depends on what you want and what you're going to use it for.

I'm obviously a fan of the DSLR, but think of it kinda like a laptop. Once you buy it, there are still a ton of accessories you'll have to get (and I'm not even talking about lenses). Filters, a camera bag, new software, maybe a flash, etc. You're also going to need the time to learn what the camera can do. But the results can be very pleasing and extremely rewarding.

There are lots of good point and shoots out there if you look around. The mid level ones (like Matt pointed out) might give you an idea if you want to move up into a DSLR or if yr happy being able to whip out the camera and snap away. Whatever you do, Take yr time and ask a lot of questions before you buy. Don't rush into it.

Also, beware of point and shoots with super zoom ranges. 12x zooms sound good on paper but won't do you much good in a club or bar because of the lighting. Which is not to say they are necessarily bad but don't think you'll be able to take it to the 9:30, stand by the soundboard and zoom in on the stage.


How much are you looking to spend? I've heard nothing but good things about the Nikon D40, but as Victoria said, they're spendy. Magpie just bought one... the thing is damn light.


I'm a big fan of my Canon 30D, but it's pretty damn spendy. I'd suggest sticking to point and shoot cameras unless you're willing to invest in something above the bottom run of DSLRs--you won't see the immediate up-tick in quality until you're a few hundred bucks above the minimum, IMHO.


I'm a big fan of my Canon 30D, but it's pretty damn spendy. I'd suggest sticking to point and shoot cameras unless you're willing to invest in something above the bottom run of DSLRs--you won't see the immediate up-tick in quality until you're a few hundred bucks above the minimum, IMHO.


Catherine, I followed this from a link of Becks. What sort of budget are you talking about?

I have to disagree with Chopper, you will notice a difference in capabilities (and learning curve) if you go to any SLR, particularly from your SD410. They will just do a number of things you cannot do with a point and shoot. It's not going to be as convenient to carry, though!

Generally speaking, these days Nikon makes better low to mid-cost bodies that Canon does, but not so much so that you wouldn't want to take other factors into account. It would really help to have an idea of what you are looking to spend (we can't forget lenses), and what you want to get for it.

You may be better off with a n in-between camera like a G6, but that is a different set of tradeoffs


I spent a long time researching bulky-but-non-SLR cameras in the $400-ish range, and ended up buying a SONY DSC-H5 that I'm very happy with. Really nice pictures, great image stabilization, good in low light, nice 12X zoom. (I think they've got a new version out - the H7 maybe? - with better specs.)

My other finalist was the Cannon S3 that Matt F links to above, which is also very well-regarded. It's a little smaller and a little heavier, and my brother-in-law speaks well of his. It didn't feel right in my hands, though - couldn't seem to find a place to put my fingers.

Although neither is SLR, you can get lens-type accessories for both.


I love my Nikon D50. You can put off the learning curve at first and use the point-and-shoot options on the entry-level SLRs instead: the photos will still be light years better than with a point-and-shoot camera.

The other amazing, amazing benefit of an SLR is the ability to shoot in RAW. You can forget about half the settings on the camera and just take the photo. Then (if you have Aperture, Lightroom, or other RAW software), you can find enough data hidden away in that big file to make it look great on the computer. Read up on the amazing benefits of RAW and non-destructive editing programs, and I bet you'll excitedly buy an SLR.

Also ... you can get great deals shopping online, so don't believe the generally-quoted prices.


Oo oo! Susan uses a Pentax *istDL - a similar model, the *istDS, can be found on KEH.com (in excellent condition) for $449.00 with an 18-55mm lens. You'd need to get the SD card separately. I am an owner of the first generation Pentax DSLR, the *istD, and I *heart* it. Looking to upgrade to a K10D later this year. Whatever gear you decide to get, I highly recommend KEH.com for used or new gear - my *istD came from there used and it is still kicking. Good luck!


I have to echo the above posts about the joys of an SLR - if you're serious about this, it is the way to go. I have a Canon XTI, and love it. (I won't go in to the Canon v. Nikon wars - they're both great bodies.) Canon makes a great 50mm lense that's cheap (I got mine at Amazon for something like $60) - 1.8f, so good in low light situations, and good for portraits.

I'm now about $3k into my photography habit, having now gotten a couple more lenses and a flash. But I did start out cheaper - one tip is to not buy the "kits". Get just the body, and buy the lense separately. The kit lenses tend to suck. I never use the one I got, anyway - compared to the 50mm or the 28-135mm, it seems blurry.

One other tip - if you go SLR, always get a filter for your lens. A UV filter will go for $5-20, and save your lens in the case of a mishap. Much better to buy another $10 piece of glass than whatever that lens costs you. (Plus, a lot of the other filters can be fun. A lot of what they do can be emulated in Photoshop, but some can't, and part of the joy of photography, I've found, is doing this stuff in the field.)

the g

SLRs are really fun, and I second the Nikon D50 (I liked it over the similar Canon.) Even for a crappy photographer like me, it takes exc. pics. Its some significant $$$, though. I think The N just bought a Canon that's a little more than point n shoot, but you'd have to ask him - all i know is that its 10 mpxl.


hey everybody - thanks for the excellent advice. i *think* i'm going to go with the camera that ficke owns, mostly because i've seen the photos he's taken with it, i played around with it briefly, and it seems awesome, and is a decent deal. plus i can bug him in person if i get confused. i'll let you know how it turns out!

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