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DSLR Guide News, June 2006 - Attack of the Electronics Giants
June 30, 2006

Attack of the Electronics Giants

Table of Contents

Intro - Hot Summer Nights
SLR Q and A - Will my new SLR make me a better photographer?
Photo Recipe - Zoom Zoom
The Gear - Electronics Companies Make Their Move
Recent Updates - What's new at the Guide
SLR E-course - Master Your Digital SLR
Learn More - Digital SLR Resources


OK, fine. I admit it.

The title of this month's newsletter is somewhat over the top.

It only seemed appropriate given that Summer is now upon us bringing with it a slew of over-the-top action films to keep you entertained late into the warm evenings to come.

While I am not one to pass up a good popcorn movie, there's another reason that I enjoy the warm (and prolonged) Summer evenings. It's a great opportunity to take photographs.

By the time I get done with a workday in the Winter months, there's no available light to speak of. If I feel like taking some photos, I have to break out my tripod and night photography techniques.

But just last evening I was out taking pictures in the backyard until 6pm, no tripod required. I find that photography is incredibly theraputic after a long day at work, since I focus on the picture I am trying to take instead of dwelling on the events of the day.

If you're looking for a little photographic therapy in your life, then you're going to need a good digital SLR camera to help you out.

Let's get into the June newsletter!

Digital SLR Q&A

Question: Will owning a digital SLR make me into a better photographer?

Answer: Put simply, no.

Let me support that statement with some examples.

  • If you buy the most advanced bicycle in the world, you're not guaranteed a spot in the Tour De France
  • You can get a cutting-edge computer, but this won't turn you into Bill Gates
  • By all means, rush out and get the best golf clubs money can buy, but good luck beating Tiger Woods

My point is this: cameras are simply a tool for taking pictures. In the hands of an amateur the best camera in the world can still take terrible shots.

It's easy to envy professional photographers who get all the latest gear - but the pros are also endowned with a keen photographic eye, which is what lead them to photography in the first place.

If you haven't figured it out by now, I love digital SLR cameras. And yes, there are many types of photos that can only be taken with a digital SLR - their speed and flexibility allow you to capture moments that would not be possible with a slow camera.

But here's the key point: you have to be prepared when a photo opportunity presents itself.

If using your digital SLR doesn't come as second nature to you, then I urge you to practice with it. Constantly. Understand the controls of your camera, and know the settings that you can use to push photographic boundaries. Use up every last ounce of what your camera can give you, and devlop your photographic "style" as you go.

You should only upgrade your camera if you are 100% positive that the upgrade will help you take your photography to the next level. Do it because you know exactly how you can use the tool, not just with a hopeful notion that your pictures will improve because you've got the latest SLR.

Photo Recipe

A photo recipe is a simple way of breaking down a photography technique.

Send in your ideas for photo recipes!

I'll include your requests in a future issue of the newsletter.

June Photo Recipe - Zooming a Still Life
This technique is not all that practical, but is a ton of fun and can add some visual interest to a photo that might otherwise be dull and static.


  • Camera set to aperture priority mode
  • Zoom lens - any zoom range will do
  • Tripod

STEP 1 - Prep Your Camera
For this recipe, you want to use a really slow shutter speed, otherwise the effect won't be apparent. In order to get a really slow shutter speed (even if it's a sunny day) set your camera to aperture priority.

Once you camera is set to aperture priority (where you change the aperture and the camera does the rest) change the aperture to either f/22 or f/32 if your camera will let you. This is a very narrow aperture, and will ensure that only a little light is making it through the lens.

STEP 2 - Find Your Subject
Pick any subject that isn't moving: you can either set up a still life shot, or find something around the house or in the backyard.

Attach the camera securely to the tripod, and compose your photo with the zoom lens set it its wide-angle setting.

STEP 3 - Zoom Zoom
Here comes the fun part: after you press the shutter button, zoom the lens all the way to its telephoto setting.

Since your aperture is set to a narrow opening, the camera should be using a slow shutter speed in order to create a balanced exposure.

When you zoom at a static subject while using a slow shutter speed, it creates the effect of motion, even though nothing was moving. Alter the speed that you zoom to increase or decrease the effect: the faster you zoom, the more motion blur will be apparent.

This technique takes practice, so don't be afraid to burn through some digital image files on your way to perfecting a static zoom shot.

The first example shows the effect with a slow zoom.

The second shows what happens when the zoom is fast.

Digital SLR Gear

There have been a lot of changes recently in the digital SLR camera market, and I'll summarize them all here so you can make some sense out of the jumble.

First, expect to see a lot of new cameras for electronics companies whose names did not come up a lot a year ago when it came to digital SLR cameras: Sony, Samsung and Panasonic.

All of these electronic giants have partnered with more traditional camera companies: Samsung has a partnership with Pentax and Panasonic is partnered with Olympus, and Sony leveraged a previous partnership with Konica Minolta (now out of the camera business) to create their new digital SLR.

This is why many of the new cameras that will be released in the next couple of months are going to bear a strong resemblance to digital SLRs that already exist.

For example, Samsung has just release the GX-1S and GX-1L. Both of these cameras share a lot in common with the Pentax *ist DS and *ist DL and the Samsung cameras are compatible with Pentax lenses. Neither the GX-1S or GX-1L has a lot of new technology to offer the digital photographer, but they do offer more camera alternatives to Pentax enthusiasts.

This hasn't stopped Pentax from developing new cameras. Later this year you can expect the arrival of the Pentax K100D and K110D. The defining feature of the K100D is that it includes anti-shake built into the camera. Built-in anti-shake was previously only available on cameras made by Konica Minolta (the Maxxum 7D and 5D). Since both of the Minolta cameras are hard to find (since they are discontinued) this makes the K100D a good alternative for anyone who'd like anti-shake in their digital SLR.

But traditional camera makers need to watch their backs: here comes Sony. The electronics juggernaut is releasing their first digital SLR in August, and it is a whopper: 10 megapixels, with built-in anti-shake (acquired from Konica Minolta), a dust-reduction sensor, eye-start autofocus and compatible with a wide range of Minolta lenses. If you currently have a lot of Minolta lenses sitting around the house, it might be worth waiting a month or two to see what this feature-laden camera can do.

Last but not least: Panasonic. The new Panasonic DMC-L1 has the one feature that the Sony lacks: a live view LCD. While this is common technology on most compact digital cameras it is not typical on SLRs.

The first camera to have a live view LCD was the Olympus E-330, and the Panasonic DMC-L1 will be the second. The DMC-L1 also has the advantage of being one of the most stylish digital SLRs available, dropping the rounded contours of most cameras in favor of a retro, film camera look. And here's good news for all you film photographers: the aperture ring that disappeared with the advent of electronic lenses will be back with this camera, and compatible lenses will be manufactured by the highly regarded Leica optics company.

So there you have it - a quick rundown of all the latest digital camera gear recently available and right around the corner.

Here's a quick roundup of all the cameras and their release dates:

  • Samsung GX-1S (January 17,2006)
  • Samsung GX-1L (Febrary 2006)
  • Pentax K100D (August 10, 2006)
  • Pentax K110D (September 15, 2006)
  • Sony DSLR-A100 (August 1, 2006)
  • Panasonic DMC-L1 (June 2006)

The most surprising part of this flurry of digital SLR activity is the total absence of both Canon and Nikon, the two dominant players in the digital SLR camera market. neither one has announced any new camera development and it doesn't appear that either will release new consumer cameras this year.

They are either waiting to see how well these new joint ventures work out, or are confident in the knowledge that they beat the tech giants to the digital SLR field by several years and have established a market dominance that can't be overcome.

Recent Updates to The Guide

This month has seen a bonanza of updates to the Guide to keep it current, keep it fresh, and most importantly provide you with the latest digital SLR camera news and information. Here's a sampling of what's new at the Guide for the month of June...

So you've found the best digital SLR camera and now you're itching to find the best price. In order to help you out, I have re-worked the pricing section of the Guide from top to bottom, including new pages and revising the old information so it makes more sense.

Here's what we've got:

  • Compare Prices - this page allows you to compare prices of all the different digital SLR cameras currently available. These are the average retail prices, and don't reflect special deals, discounts or bargains. There is a notable addition for UK visitors - all prices are listed in both pounds and dollars.
  • SLR Camera Packages - on this page I delve into the variety of different ways in which you can purchase your digital SLR: kit with lens, body only, kit with two lenses...the list goes on. If you know beforehand what you want to photograph (which you should if you've followed the Guide's 4-step process) then it should be fairly easy to decide which digital SLR package is right for you.
  • Digital SLR Dealers - you know what camera you want and you know what package you want: now you just need to find someone to sell it to you. On this page I have listed some of my favorite online digital SLR dealers, the places that I buy all my camera gear from. While I've found that I can get the best price online, you may feel more comfortable doing business with the local camera shop rather than some massive online company.
  • The Best SLR Deals - OK, this page hasn't undergone a massive change yet, but it will soon. Remember how I mentioned that the price comparison page listed the RETAIL prices? Soon, the best SLR deals page will point you to breaking specials on SLR gear from some of the online dealers.

Other changes to the Guide include:

Coming soon:

  • A Guide to the Nikon D70s (as requested by readers)
  • A Guide to the Sony DSLR-A100
  • The Panasonic DMC-L1 vs the Sony DSLR-A100
  • Digital SLR cameras sorted by megapixels
  • Digital SLR cameras sorted by skill level: beginner, amateur and professional
  • More digital SLR fun than you can shake a stick at

For all the latest updates to the Guide, keep an eye on the Digital SLR Weblog.

SLR Guide E-Course

Are you throwing away half the money that you spent on your digital SLR?

You are if you're not leveraging all of the features that your camera has to offer.

The Digital SLR Guide offers a 5-week online e-course that teaches you how to adjust your camera settings to get the most out of every shot you take.

Find Out More

Digital SLR Learning Resources

Each month I will present a new photography book or online resource that will take your photos to the next level, and help you continue to learn about photography (if that's your desire).

June Resource: Talking Photography

Talking Photography by Frank Van Riper isn't a photo how-to book, and doesn't show you the best ways to take portraits or capture amazing landscapes.

This book is a compilation of Frank's favorite photography columns, written for the Washington Post. He began writing this photography column in 1992 and has been at it ever since. The focus of the columns (and hence the book) is on film photography, and the trials and tribulations of working as a photographer.

So the question becomes: how has this book found its way into the Digital SLR Resources section?

There's a couple of reasons: first, Frank's writing is a joy to read. Writing is like photography: you have to practice to be good at it, and a weekly column on photography forces you to practice.

While the book could just be an enjoyable read on your morning commute, there is more to it than that. If there are any readers of this newsletter who have been considering going pro with your new digital SLR, then the book offers valuable insight into what a day is like for a working photographer.

The important thing to take away is that there is a lot of drudgery involved (just like any job) and that what may seem artistic and free and fun when you're pondering a job change in the wee hours of the morning also requires a lot of work.

Finally, you WILL learn some photography technique from this book, which is why I include it here. While you won't find out what camera setting to use for macro photography, or why infinite depth of field will help your landscape photos, you WILL learn to think differently about some of the photos you take.

Frank's articles spend a lot of time on the philosophy of a photograph, the way in which you approach a photo so that it conveys a little something more to the viewer. He also spend a lot of time talking about preparation, one of the key elements to a great photograph.

So I recommend this book with the following disclaimer: don't get it if you're trying to learn a specific photography technique like portraiture or still life photography.

Do get it if you'd like a good book to read, and want to broaden the way that you think about every photo that you take.

Read other reviews of Talking Photography

In Conclusion

Given the length of this newsletter, I don't have a lot left over to say here at the end. So, let's just finish with the usual parting...

Thanks for reading, happy picture-taking, and I'll see you next month!

--Chris Roberts, Your Digital SLR Guide

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