Saturday, January 8, 2011

My New Toy

The Canon EOS 350DImage via WikipediaBefore Shayna was born, I  owned a 35 mm SLR camera.  I never really learned how to use it. But, I have always been a bit of a photo bug.  I retired that camera around 2000 in favor of point and shoot digital camera.  There is no comparison between digital photography and film photography when it comes to speed, cost (oh how many times did I throw away four copies of the same photo Ty had taken to make sure she got the "right" shot?), the ability to instantly review your work, the ability to share your work, etc. etc. So, the move from film to digital was made with no hesitation and no looking back. But, I realized the pictures I was getting from my point and shoots were very often disappointing.  Especially after the kids were getting older, trying to take pictures of school plays, basketball games, etc- places with low lighting and moving subjects- I was not happy with the results.  While I loved being able to slip a camera into my pocket and take it everywhere with me, I kept chasing that elusive camera that would give me good performance under challenging conditions and the convenience of digital photography.  Digital SLRs were out of the question- price-wise until a couple of years ago.  And, when the prices did start to come down, I still couldn't justify the cost or the size, until a couple of weeks ago.

I was about to buy my sixth digital compact camera in less than 10 years when I thought "Wait a minute.  Maybe I should do something different".  I consulted my two brothers who had both gone from Canon's prosumer G series camera (an oversized P&S with a good sensor but a lens that cannot be changed out) to Canon's dSLRs.  After doing a ton of research, I decided to bite the bullet and buy a dSLR that I hope to have for many years to come. I went with a middle of the road (for a consumer camera) consumer Canon T2i. It's classified as a prosumer dSLR.  Some pros use it and a lot of serious hobbyists.  It's not a "full body" dSLR like most of the pros use.  It has a slightly smaller sensor than those. But, it has a much larger sensor than any of the cameras with non-interchangeable lenses.  It's 18 megapixels and while I had lost interest in more and more megapixels at around 6 MP, I now realize the additional MP give me the ability to really crop down my shots after I've taken them.  Given that I have a pretty limited telephoto lens for indoor shots right now, that is very helpful. I looked at the Micro Four Thirds cameras too but ruled them out because they were really not much less expensive than a dSLR were still too big to fit in a pocket and the peripherals for them are limited.  I bought the T2i with the kit 18-55mm lens and an optional 55-250mm Canon lens because I got such a great deal on them and I wanted to try them out before investing in more expensive lenses.  I've already upgraded the kit lens to a Tamron 17-50 mm lens which while it doesn't have Image Stabilization, is much faster and better suited for basketball games and swim meets.

Over the last couple of weeks I have read the owner's manual from cover-to-cover and a book specifically written for the Canon T2i and digital photography- Canon EOS Rebel from Snap Shots to Great Shots (not exactly a catchy title).  The book starts where the owner's manual stops telling you how to use the advanced functions of the camera and how to compose your shots.  I've learned more about photography and things like white balance and exposure compensation than I had ever learned before.  I've spent the last week taking literally hundreds of shots at different apertures, speed settings, white balances and ISO settings. Even with my P&S now, I'm paying attention to the aperture and shutter speed and realizing and knowing when the automatic mode is not going to give me a good shot. I've sat up and said "A ha" I don't know how many times as I've learned why certain shots (like my product shots for the website) constantly come out underexposed.  I'm recommitting to, over the year 2011, taking a photo a day, which I'll post on my other blog.
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Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Nice! I have a Canon PowerShot SD800 IS 7.1MP Digital Elph Camera with 3.8x Wide Angle Image-Stabilized Optical Zoom. It does everything I need it to, but I occasionally dream of an entry level DSLR. The greatest thing, for me, about my SD800 is that it fits in my front pants pocket. I had a larger camera before and found myself not using it because I had to carry it in a camera bag. That memory is what has kept me from making a purchase that would just be a waste for me. I still dream though. ;-)

Brian said...

Yeah, Mike, the size was the biggest reason I waited so long to get back into an SLR body. I kept hoping the P&S compacts would catch up. But, physically, you just can't get a big enough lens (or sensor) on one of them to work well in low light.

If I didn't have kids I probably wouldn't have bought the dSLR. Now, I wish I had done it years ago. I had given up on taking pictures at Shayna's b-ball games because I could never get decent shots. The light was too low and with them moving, if I kept the shutter open long enough to get a decent exposure everything was blurred. If the shutter speed was fast enough to capture the action, the picture was dark. With my dSLR I've already gotten much better shots than I got in all the years of trying to get shots with various P&S cameras.

I still have my Panasonic DMC-ZS3 and it'll still get a lot of use when I want to pop a camera in my pocket.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Yeah, keeping a point and shoot makes sense. Heck, I've even seen the pros use them for some shots.