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DSLR Guide News, Jan. 2006 - Digital SLRs in 2006
January 24, 2006

Let the Digital SLR Price Wars Begin

Table of Contents

Intro - Off and Running in 2006
SLR Q and A - Is Digital SLR Crop Good or Bad?
Photo Recipe - Shoot the Moon
The Gear - Sony Jumps In
Recent Updates - What's New at the Guide
Coming Soon - Special Bonus


It's a new year, and there are already new developments in the world of Digital SLR Cameras.

Samsung has just announced that their first digital SLR will be available in February. Dubbed the GX-1S, it's basically the same camera style as the Pentax *ist line of digital SLR cameras.

Sony is also jumping into the pool, and you can read more about that later on in the newsletter.

There's a big photography convention right around the corner (when all the latest cameras are announced) and already there are plenty of rumours running around the Internet about which cameras will be released.

Looks like 2006 will be a busy year for the Digital SLR Guide!

Without a lot of further fanfare, let's get into this issue of Digital SLR News.

Digital SLR Q&A

Question: Is digital SLR crop factor good or bad?

Answer: It depends on what you want to photograph.

First, here's a quick summary of digital SLR crop factor. Digital SLR sensors are smaller than a standard frame of 35mm film. Since they don't cover the same area, the images that they capture are cropped, which creates an artificial zoom effect.

Most digital SLR crop factors are 1.5 times. OK, 1.5 times what? The multiplier is applied to the focal length of your lens. Let's say that you have a 50mm lens. On a digital SLR with a 1.5 times crop factor, this lens will take photos more like a 75mm lens on a camera that uses standard film.

The longer the focal length of the lens, the more pronouced the effect is. For example, a 400mm lens on a digital SLR will frame scenes like a 600mm lens on a standard film camera.

So the question that arises is "do I want more crop factor or less?"

The answer is that you want less if you photograph landscapes and indoors (where you need a wide-angle view) and more if you photograph wildlife and birds (where you need a super-telephoto).

In situations that call for a wide-angle view, crop factor is working against you, magnifying the focal length of your lens. This is why many landscape photographers who use digital SLR cameras have lenses with exceptionally short focal lengths between 11 and 18mm. These lenses capture the entire scene, from foreground to background.

They also work well indoors, where you don't have a lot of room to maneuver to get the best shot.

Wide-angle photographers with enough money can opt for a full-frame digital SLR, which uses a sensor that's the same size as 35mm film. In this case, the lenses they use won't have any crop factor at all.

For telephoto enthusiasts, crop factor is a wonderful thing. When you're taking photos of birds, you want all the focal length you can get. The problem is that super-telephoto lenses (600mm) cost a ton of money.

With a digital SLR, you can get a 400mm lens that will capture images like a 600mm, saving money in the process.

Photo Recipe

This month I am introducing a new section to the Digital SLR Guide newsletter. A photo recipe is a simple way of breaking down a complex photographic subject.

Each month, we'll tackle a different photography scenario, and the photo recipe will guide you step-by-step through the photographic process.

If you're thinking about purchasing a digital SLR camera and one of these recipes describes exactly what you'd like to photograph, pay special attention to the ingredients, since these will identify a special camera feature you'll need to get the shot.

Suggestions are welcome: if you'd like to see a recipe for a certain type of photography, contact me and I will be happy to write up a recipe for it and include it in a future issue of the newsletter.

January Photo Recipe - Shoot the Moon
This month's photo recipe has nothing to do with a card game (players of Hearts will know what I am talking about). No, this recipe is about taking photos of the moon.

This is for all of those folks who've always wanted a great shot of the moon rising in the night sky, but just haven't been able to match the photograph to their vision.


  • Digital SLR Camera
  • Telephoto lens - 200mm or longer
  • Image Stabilization - in the camera or in the lens OR
  • A tripod and a remote shutter release
  • A full moon

STEP 0 (optional) - Set your camera on the tripod
If you have decided to use a tripod, lock the camera and/or lens into place on the tripod aimed at the moon. Attach a remote release to the camera, or use a remote control to activate the camera shutter.

If you have image stabilization, a tripod and remote shutter aren't necessary.

STEP 1 - Set your camera to manual mode
This is a requirement, since there is no way your digital SLR camera meter is going to get the right exposure. Since it is night (and the sky around the moon is black) the camera wants to expose for the night.

The problem is that the moon is quite bright, and will wind up looking like a giant white sphere in your photo - there won't be any detail.

STEP 2 - Set your aperture
Since the moon lets off so much light, you have some flexibility here. You don't want to use the widest aperture on your lens, since lenses (especially less expensive ones) tend to lose clarity at wide apertures.

A middle aperture of f/8.0 is usually a good bet.

STEP 3 - Don't trust the camera's meter
With your aperture set, it's time to adjust your shutter speed. This is the real trick to photographing the moon.

Most people think that you need to use a really slow shutter speed since it is night-time. It's just the opposite - since the moon reflects so much light from the sun, you have to use fast shutter speeds to make it look the same way it appears to your eyes.

Your camera light meter is going to be telling you that the photo is extremely under-exposed, but just ignore it.

STEP 4 - Use the LCD
This is a great use of the LCD - take a photo and then check it to see what the moon looks like.

If you're getting a great white sphere, increase your shutter speed until you can see the details of the moon on the LCD.

Check out this sample photo to see what the end result will look like.

For this photo I used a 200mm lens, an aperture of f/3.5, an ISO of 400 and a shutter speed of 800 (1/800th of a second). The lens I use has image stabilization, so I didn't have to use a tripod for this shot.

If you're intent on taking a photo of the full moon, you need to know when to expect it. Here are all the full moon dates for 2006:

February 28
March 30
April 28
May 28
June 27
July 26
August 25
September 23
October 23
November 21
December 21

Digital SLR Gear

In this month's digital SLR gear section, I'll be talking about the latest developments in the digital SLR marketplace, and a couple of reasons why you might want to wait if you're thinking about getting a new digital SLR this year.

PMA stands for the Photo Marketing Association, and it's a huge annual photography conference and exhibition. This year it's taking place in Orlando Florida, from February 26 to March 1.

Since this is a big event, camera manufacturers wait for it to introduce their latest digital SLR cameras, and their plans for the coming year.

If you buy a digital SLR today and feel that you are compromising on some features, a camera might get released during PMA that does everything you want. What's more, it will probably cost less than the camera that you just bought.

So, if you want to avoid possible disappointment, wait until after PMA to make the final choice on your digital SLR.

Konica Minolta and Sony
Here's another reason to wait awhile to make that digital SLR purchase: Sony is going to start releasing digital SLR cameras this Summer.

Here's a bit of sad news for fans of Konica Minolta: they won't be making any more digital SLR cameras. The company was losing money and ground to the competition and decided to put a stop to all camera manufacturing operations. Read the news release

Here's the twist: they transferred operations over to Sony. So without a whole lot of effort, Sony just received all of the production facilities for the Konica Minolta Maxxum line of digital SLR cameras.

Here's another twist: Sony already makes many of the sensors in other manufacturer's cameras, like the Nikon D50.

Shortly after Konica Minolta said they were closing up shop, Sony announced that they will release their first digital SLR camera this Summer. You can expect this camera to look and operate a lot like the Maxxum 7D and 5D even though it will bear the Sony label.

Not a day later, a Sony rep stated that their goal is to gobble up 25% of the digital SLR camera market in the next couple of years.

Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Olympus have all been producing digital SLR cameras for years. Virtually all professional photographers have already made the switch to digital and they already own a huge number of camera-specific lenses (mostly Canon or Nikon).

Pros aren't going to make the switch to Sony any time soon. Sony is after the consumer market, and that's where they are going to focus their efforts.

This has been a long way to make a point, but I'm getting there.

To compete in the consumer market, and grab the type of market share they are hoping for, Sony only has one option: lower the price of digital SLR cameras.

If Sony really want to start selling digital SLRs in huge quantities to non-professional photographers, the price is going to have to come down below $500.

Once Sony drops the price, you can be sure that Canon and Nikon will be quick to follow in order to stay competitive.

So, if you're not desperate for that new digital SLR, wait a couple of months. Hold out for the release of that first Sony camera and see what happens to prices. You should be able to get a good SLR with plenty of features for a lot less dough.

And (of course) keep checking the Digital SLR Guide reviews page: I'll post a review as soon as I can get my hands on one of the new Sony cameras.

Recent Updates to The Guide

There aren't a huge number of updates at the guide this month. I have been heads-down working on the upcoming tutorial course on digital SLR cameras.

It doesn't look like it will be complete by the end of this month - you'll have to wait just a bit longer to get your hands on it.

Despite this, I have been able to add some new articles to the site:

Coming Soon

Past subscribers to the Digital SLR Guide newsletter know a little secret.

Right now I'm working on a guide that will help you maximize your use of your digital SLR camera. When you spend $700 on a piece of photographic gear, you're paying for a lot of special features.

If you never use half of those special features (because you're not sure what they do) then you're not really getting the most out of your expensive camera.

My guide to operating your digital SLR will introduce you to all of those special features, in the same practical plain-English approach as the rest of the Digital SLR Guide.

This introduction to digital SLRs will be presented as a 5-week course. Each week you will receive a new lesson in your e-mail inbox packed with information about how to use your camera to its fullest potential.

You'll learn about aperture, shutter speed, metering, exposure, bracketing, white balance, file formats and more.

Each week's lesson will also feature special exercises designed to help you understand how changing a camera setting affects the quality of your photographs.

By the time you finish the 5-week course, you should have an excellent grasp of all of your camera controls. Heck, you might even be able to teach your friends how to use their cameras!

So here's the secret....

The 5-week course is going to cost $14.95. But not for you.

Since you are subscriber to the Digital SLR Guide newsletter, you will receive complimentary access to the course.

It's my way of saying thank you for signing up for this newsletter in the first place, and for using the Digital SLR Guide as your source of information about digital SLR cameras.

If you know of someone else who would benefit from the e-course, feel free to forward this newsletter to them. If they enjoy the content and find it useful, they can subscribe to the newsletter, and they will also receive the complimentary pass when the e-course is available.

In Conclusion

That was a pretty hefty newsletter, so I won't add much here at the end.

As always, if you have feedback or want to ask a question, go right ahead and do that. I enjoy hearing from readers of the guide and the newsletter, and your suggestions help me continue to improve the quality and consistency of the information in the Digital SLR Guide.

If you're feeling especially ambitious, you can also write up a quick review of the Digital SLR Guide on (you need an existing Amazon account). Here's an example of how your feedback will look.

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next month!

--Chris Roberts, Your Digital SLR Guide

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