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DSLR Guide News - Go Forth and Shop
November 29, 2009
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Digital SLR CamerasIn the past couple of issues of the newsletter I've run through many of the new camera models released in 2009.
For the benefit of new readers - and to have them all in one spot - here's a complete list of the new cameras that became available in 2009:
Since these cameras run the gamut from basic beginner models (Nikon D3000) to ultra-expensive professional models (Sony A850), let's break the cameras down further.
Beginner models often have very basic feature sets and are therefore the least expensive digital SLR cameras you can buy. They are small, lightweight and very easy to use. Beginner models are designed for people making the transition from point-and-shoot compact cameras to digital SLRs.
Intermediate models offer more features for people who have at least some familiarity with digital SLR cameras (however, they also all run just fine in AUTO mode). Many of the cameras at this level include a video capture mode (the latest "it" feature for digital SLRs) with the exception of Sony — none of their cameras released this year can capture video.
The semi-pro models include the speed and performance that more advanced photographers expect in a camera. Beginners can certainly buy these cameras, but will pay a hefty premium for a lot of manual controls that they may never use.
NOTE: All cameras with a video capture mode are noted with an asterisk (*).
Let's slice and dice these cameras once more: based on the all-important price. You should notice that there is a lot of overlap between the price of the cameras and the level of photographer they are designed for (beginner, intermediate, semi-pro) - the more basic the camera, the less it costs.
To see the current prices for all these cameras (and more) take a look at the page that compares digital SLR camera prices (recently updated with all the latest cameras and prices).
Great Lens OptionsNow that we've covered some of your camera options, let's talk about lenses.
A new lens is a great gift idea for someone who already owns a digital SLR. You may also find yourself choosing a lens if you decide that a DSLR camera kit is not what you want.
Let's get the price disclaimer out of the way right here and now: lenses are not cheap (the good ones, at least).
The whole point of a lens is to focus an image precisely onto the camera's sensor. This optical precision requires multiple glass elements all perfectly positioned within the lens.
But lenses aren't just tubes with a bunch of glass plates inside: they also have sophisticated autofocus motors, multi-blade aperture rings and (sometimes) image stabilization systems.
Once you realize just how much work a lens is doing to help you capture great pictures, it makes more sense why they cost so much.
Having said this, the lenses that follow are all relatively inexpensive ones that I could find that still have a lot of positive online reviews and don't compromise on image quality.
I've picked one lens for each camera brand to give you a sense of what's out there.
Accessorize Your DSLRModern economic times being what they are, not many people have $600 to $1000 to throw down on a camera and lens...but for people who already have those two covered, cheaper gift options abound.
Option #1: Lens Filters
Lens filters screw onto the front of any DSLR lens and are used for a variety of reasons. The two most common filters are UV filters and polarizing filters.
A UV filter is essentially a clear piece of glass that you stick on the front of the lens. Its main purpose is to protect the front of the lens from getting scratched. UV filters can cost anywhere from $15 to $30 USD (depending on size) but that sure is a lot cheaper than the cost of a new lens.
A polarizing filter is a huge asset for landscape photographers. Polarizers neutralize reflections, and this can be used with water to reduce glare, but it also work very well to reduce the shine from tree leaves to capture more natural colors.
All filters come in a variety of different sizes (measured in millimeters) so be sure you know the thread size of the lens before you go out and buy one (you can often determine the thread size of the lens by looking on the INSIDE of the lens cap).
Option #2: Flash and Flash Modifiers
Our next category of accessories is for photographers who are fans of portraiture (since a flash out in the wilderness isn't going to light up very much of the scenery).
At the inexpensive end of the scale, check out the $19.95 USD Professor Kobre's Lightscoop.
This little device sits on top of your DSLR camera (connected to the flash hot shoe), and it redirects the harsh direct light from your popup flash up toward the ceiling, resulting in a MASSIVE improvement in portraits taken with on-camera flash.
The only drawback - of course - is that you need either a low ceiling or a nearby wall that you can use to bounce light. If you're taking pictures in a large room, the lack of ceiling and walls can be remedied with an inexpensive piece of white posterboard. Just position the posterboard to bounce the light from your flash and the results will be better than if you blast your subjects with direct light.
If you're willing to spend a bit more, then a great investment for any portrait/family photographers is an external flash unit.
External flashes are not only much more powerful than the small built-in units - capable of lighting much larger areas more evenly - they also completely eliminate red-eye in your photos since they are positioned further away from the camera lens.
Many external flash units also have flash heads that swivel and tilt, providing you with a lot of options about where to point the flash (rather than straight at your subject).
Many flash units are manufacturer-specific. Here are some external flash options for different camera brands:
Other Photography Sites
Great Photo Blogs
Recommended Digital SLR Retailers(These are the three online stores that I use to purchase all of my digital SLR photography gear)
In ConclusionWell, I wanted to wedge more into this newsletter but ran out of time. That always seems to happen at this time of year.
Since you won't receive the next newsletter until after the holidays (unless a miracle occurs and I get it out sooner than the end of next month) I wish you and yours a very happy holiday season.
May you receive all the DSLR gear that you've been wishing for and may all your photos be bright!
Until next time, happy picture-taking!
--Chris Roberts, Your Digital SLR Guide
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