Digital Camera Advice (to DSLR or not to?)
Oct 23, 2006 at 7:19 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 17


Headphoneus Supremus
May 12, 2003
I'm sure this question has been asked on this board, but since I like advice personalized for me (read: lazy right now), I thought I'd solicit the input of the digicam experts here.

I'm considering upgrading my digitial camera to a high end point and shoot like the Canon G7 or an entry level digital SLR (Canon Rebel EOS, Nikon D80, etc). I am not an enthusiast nor am I much of a tweaker. Which should I go for?

I currently have the Sony Cybershot DSC-P100. It's served me well but I'm looking for a boost in image quality. Especially for indoor product/macro shots (for selling on Head-fi!). Without having to do much constant manual tweaking. Will going up to the G7 be sufficient? Or do I need to go to the entry level digital SLR's to see substantial gains?

And again, please keep in mind I'm not much of a tweaker. I don't mind the few adjustments once in awhile. But prefer not to tweak with settings everytime I take photos.
Oct 23, 2006 at 9:03 PM Post #2 of 17
generally speaking the entry DSLRs will have better auto metering and auto white balance, they have an automatic (P&S) mode just like the cosumer cameras so that shouldnt be a concern.

basically you just need to decide if a built-in lens of a point and shoot is enough to cover your needs. an SLR body obviously has alot more lens options. if the consumer digitals you are looking at dont have a hot shoe for external flash you also make that a consideration in your choice.
Oct 23, 2006 at 9:07 PM Post #3 of 17
My entry level DSLR (first generation Canon Rebel) on full automatic mode takes far better photos than my Sony DCR-P9 or new Leica D-Lux 3. With just a small little bit of tweaking (white balance, depth of field, composition) the photos get far better, especially for like macros of gear.

Really, it's like comparing a HD25-1 with a HD580.
Lens size, sensor size, etc., it just doesn't compare. I say go for it.


Oct 23, 2006 at 9:14 PM Post #4 of 17
Thats the same thing I said when I was I first started with DSLR's. Once I did get to play around with it, I enjoyed making adjustments to settings to tweak the shot.

Get a Nikon D80/Canon Digital Rebel, most likely you will be going down that series of lenses/cameras in the future.
Oct 23, 2006 at 9:23 PM Post #5 of 17
i just picked up a rebel xti to replace my elan ii 35mm. I'm loving it so far, I can use all the same lenses and I don't have to wait till I develop to see the shot.
Oct 23, 2006 at 10:17 PM Post #6 of 17
A Dslr would take better pictures than a simple P&S. HOWEVER, do realise that once you buy one, you will be spending a lot of extra money on lenses and accesorries, which can easily run into the thousands.
Oct 23, 2006 at 10:57 PM Post #7 of 17

Originally Posted by jjcha
Really, it's like comparing a HD25-1 with a HD580.
Lens size, sensor size, etc., it just doesn't compare. I say go for it.

Ah, in terms I can understand! Nice. Thanks everyone for the input. It seems like digital SLR is the way to go.

So now which one do you guys recommend? And which lens should I get with it? What other accessories should I plan for?

Again, I don't see myself getting too tweaky. Making a few manual adjustments is one thing but I don't think I'll be diving into this hobby like with headphones. I'm not closing that door completely but please keep in mind that I'm looking to mostly point and shoot indoor objects to sell when you are making your suggestions.
Oct 23, 2006 at 11:32 PM Post #8 of 17
Well what camera rig you get depends quite a bit on what you are willing to spend and on personal preference I'm a quite happy D70 shooter and wouldn't hesitate to recommend its little brother (the D50) or its new version the D80. Most of them can be bought with a decent kit lens that will serve for 75% of anyones shooting needs. (The Nikkor 18-70 that came with the D70 is quite nice.)

There are plenty of other options out there but I like the feel/ergronomics of the Nikons and I like that the lense standard has remained constant for quite some time. Plus I like the way that Nikons render grain.

As for other options there is (obviously) the various Canon DSLRs which are all quite nice. Sony released a DSLR a few months back that has been well reviewed. Also Pentax has an entry level DSLR that is quite nice. All have decent meters and auto modes... though I suspect you will want to use one of the priority settings after you get used to the camera.

My advice is to go to a store and try a few, see what feels right to you and is in your price range. Then add a decent zoom (try for around 18 to at least 55... at a reasonable f-stop say 3-5 or so). You now have a kit that will serve you for most photography. If you want later on down the line you can invest in a longer lens (Nikon has cheap 70-300s that take suprisingly good photos) and maybe a flash.

Or go all out and pickup a D200 and the 18-200 VR. It will set you back a few thousand but will serve virtually every photographic need you could imagine. (Except for extreme wide angles and extreme telephoto and of course lighting)
Oct 24, 2006 at 2:06 AM Post #9 of 17
What will you be ultimately using the camera for? Taking pictures on holiday or on outings/gatherings with friends/family? Do you forsee diving or snorkelling with the camera? And how much weight are you willing to carry? (DSLRs and their accessories add up really fast, and sometimes its a real PITA lugging a DSLR around) And then of course there's the cost involved.

The G7 is an excellent camera, small, well built, with full manual controls if you want to use them. It's pretty responsive too. And affordable. I've spent some time with it at a shop and really like it.

Note that even if you do buy a DSLR, there will be times when you find it inconvenient/impractical/or you just plain do not want to carry it. That's when a small compact comes in.

For the uses you stated, the G7 is more than good enough
Oct 24, 2006 at 2:18 AM Post #10 of 17
Just from the perspective of a rank amateur

You can take good photos using a point and shoot, including macros of gear, but it's hard.

It's very difficult to get an accurate depth of field with a point and shoot, also even if you do, it's hard to know exactly where you're focusing, assuming you've got manual focus.

A shot like this is a breeze with a DSLR (seriously, it's so easy it's absurd):


You can do macros with a point and shoot - I fiddled for a few min and got this, I'm sure you can do better. But you just don't get the same depth of field and control.


It's proven quite difficult to zoom in and nearly impossible to focus precisely on anything though... you really can't do macro's the same way unless the point and shoot has a real special macro capability...


Oct 24, 2006 at 2:25 AM Post #11 of 17
I would go to a camera store and find out which camera feels better in your hands. You really can't go wrong with the Canon Digital 400D/XTi or the Nikon D50/D70. I would buy an entry level body and spend the rest of your money on lenses, rather than the D80 or higher end Canon.

The Canon digicams are great cameras, but the DSLRs have bigger sensors and take better pictures at higher ISO settings. DSLRs are bigger though (obviously), so if you don't want to always lug one around, you need to think about that.
Oct 24, 2006 at 2:28 AM Post #12 of 17
if he's not a tweaker/fiddler, i say go for the p&s. it's possible to take really good photos with a p&s. even though a dslr has an automatic setting like a p&s, it still requires at least a modicum of tweaking to really get good shots...
Oct 24, 2006 at 2:33 AM Post #13 of 17
Most point and shoots these days do have very good macro capabilities.

Even my old nikon coolpix could do closeups about 2cm away from the subject.

I wouldn't get a DSLR if I was only just going to take pictures of stuff I want to sell. If you want to get more serious about macro photography, then that's something you can consider.

Here's a shot off my D200. To give you a sense of scale, the flower is slightly larger than my thumbnail. The picture is not cropped. This is an example of what you want DSLRs for.

Oct 24, 2006 at 2:46 AM Post #14 of 17

Originally Posted by av98m2
Most point and shoots these days do have very good macro capabilities.

Even my old nikon coolpix could do closeups about 2cm away from the subject.

I dunno... I once took this shot to show a buyer a marr on my W2002:


I can't imagine what a nightmare doing that on a point and shoot would have been...

Heh, I know, must be like listening to Britney Spears on an HE90 to be using a DSLR for only this kind of thing...


Oct 24, 2006 at 3:08 AM Post #15 of 17
You're only really limited to what you can spend. The adage of "It's the photographer, not the camera" still holds up, but of course if you're doing it for a living or a real enthusiast, then the pricier DSLRs should be more suitable for you. I would try the G7 for a while and see if it covers the kinds of images you want to produce.

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