View Full Version : New to DSLRs - Help!

04-02-10, 03:01 PM

I am new to the world of DSLRs but I am looking to dip my toe in the water. I am going to go on a round the world trip in a couple of months and I am toying with the idea of buying a decent camera to take with me. I have a Canon Ixus 65 which, although it's cheap, is actually very good for pocket camera shots but I am concerned that if that's all I take I will be disappointed with the results when I get back.

I have four main questions:
1) Will I notice a significant difference in quality between say a Nikon D3000 and my Canon Ixus? i.e. is it worth taking an SLR over a compact? is the extra kit worth it or will be frustrating as a new user?
2) If I get an SLR which one would provide a good compromise between quality, size, ease of use and budget (bearing in mind my budget is in the lower end of the scale)? I've seen the Nikon D3000 did well in your recent review but as a compete novice is the guide mode any good or is an amount of pre-knowledge needed to use it?
3) What would you recommend as being in the "essential kit bag" for taking an SLR on a long trip i.e. would it be sensible to get spare batteries, uv filters etc?
4) I'm assuming that a lot of my pictures on the trip will be landscapes and scenery, would it be worth buying a wide angle zoom lens (10-20mm) as well as having the kit lens or would the kit lens (18-55mm) give enough depth of field? (I've always been disappointed with the depth of field on a compact camera and I want to get that feeling of being in the picture).

I know that a lot of the my questions will come down to what I plan to do with camera in the future but with so much information on the internet and as there are so many technical terms used in all the reviews I am all at sea! :confused:

Thanks very much for your help and any comments welcome.

Nigel Atherton
04-02-10, 10:32 PM
You don't actually mention a budget but I'll speak in general terms.

A DSLR will provide a quantum leap in image quality but the downside is that for travel photography its bigger and heavier even more so if you buy the lenses that will take you from ultra-wide to mid telephoto zoom. The smallest DSLRs tend to be the Olympus models, the Sony a230 and the Nikon D3000. A 10-20mm would be good for very wideangle shots, and a 70-200mm or 70-300mm would be good for tele shots.

To be honest I'm not sure this is the right way to go in your case. Firstly, a round the world trip is not the place to start learning how to use a DSLR. It takes a while to get to grips with them and to build up a level of knowledge that will enable you to get better shots from one than you would with a compact. In the meantime you'll probably miss unrepeatable opportunities due to unfamiliarity with the camera.

For example, you say you've always been disappointed with the depth of field from compacts, but DSLRs have much LESS depth of field due to the larger sensors. To get the same depth of field as your compact you'd need to use a much smaller aperture which, if you're not careful could lead to camera shake from the resulting slow shutter speed.

If your main requirement is something small, with a good zoom range that will guarantee good quality pictures as a record of your trip, then its hard to beat a compact like the Panasonic Lumix TZ7 (http://www.whatdigitalcamera.com/equipment/reviews/compactcameras/1121/1/panasonic-lumix-tz7-review.html). Despite its size it has a zoom that goes from the equivalent of 25mm (a quite respectable wideangle) to 300mm telephoto, a bright high-res 3inch LCD screen and HD movie recording, and you can buy it for about 260 (http://www.warehouseexpress.com/buy-panasonic-lumix-dmc-tz7-black/p1031700). It's 12 megapixels and the quality is good enough to give you crackig A4 prints if you want them.
The Canon Powershot S90 (http://www.whatdigitalcamera.com/equipment/reviews/compactcameras/127606/1/canon-powershot-s90-review.html) is a new rival to the TZ which is also worth a look.

Alternatively, you could consider a bridge camera such as the Sony HX1 (http://www.whatdigitalcamera.com/equipment/reviews/compactcameras/1052/1/sony-cybershot-hx1.html) or Panasonic FZ38 (http://www.whatdigitalcamera.com/equipment/reviews/compactcameras/27052/1/panasonic-lumix-fz38-review.html), which are DSLR-like but smaller, with fixed lenses.

If, on the other hand, you want to be able to get creative, perhaps try night photography, produce shallow depth of field effects, or experiment with lenses, external flash or macro accessories, then you'll need a DSLR and you'll have to put up with the size, weight and extra cost.

05-02-10, 08:27 AM
Thanks for your comments Nigel, really helpful. My budget is in the 300 to 500 range so I have been looking at the D3000 or the Canon 1000D (The lack of grip on the Sony is really uncomfortable i think).

If I were to go down the DSLR route what essential accessories would you recomend to take with me (apart from the obvious memory cards and battery)?

I guess i'm caught between using the trip to justify getting a new bit of kit which I can use in the long run to get into photography but at the same time running the risk of getting frustrated with it and throwing it in the sea!

Thanks for your help.