The Process of Choosing a DSLR

Posted On: October 31, 2008
Posted In:
Comments: 4 Responses

I’ve had my trusty Canon Powershot G7 for quite a while now, since March 2007. It all started when I wanted to get a new digital camera for my New Zealand trip. The choice was pretty straight forward back then. I was not sure if a DSLR was what I wanted for travel, and I was not ready to splash a whole lot of cash on all the equipment until I am sure of the interest level and the technical aspects of taking photos. Thus, a prosumer camera such as the Powershot G7 or the Nikon P5100 was sufficient. It allowed me controls over the aperture and shutter settings, as well as more advanced controls that a consumer point-and-shoot just will not do. Took some lovely photos back then in New Zealand, I came home and played around with the amazing macro ability of the G7, as well as addded a teleconverter and wideangle converter lens to the mix. I remember I was quite fascinated by the zoom capabilities. The G7 served me well, until the spring in the zoom control snapped recently, but nothing that a quick fix at the service centre cannot do. No regrets getting it, and since then its newer siblings have been born – the G9 followed by the G10.

What I love about the Canon Powershot G7 – it is versatile, it is travel-friendly, it produces extremely sharp images at 10 megapixels, the movie capture is sharp and built-in microphone sensitive, and its macro capabilities are nothing short of amazing. However, some of the glaring faults of the G7 are that its lacks the ability to capture images in RAW format, noisy and poor performance under low lighting and high ISO settings, and it has the tendency for lens flare, especially in movie capture mode. Battery life is pathetic and the complete lack of a battery indicator means you only get to know that the battery is going flat when it is really low. It is a good camera nonetheless, but I have outgrown it. I needed more and this can be my second camera, especially if I need to travel light.

Total costs for the G7 (back in 2007):

  1. Main camera $879
  2. Conversion Lens Adaptor LA-DC58H $39
  3. Tele-converter TC-DC58C $199
  4. Wide Converter WC-DC58B $199
  5. Miscellaneous expenses such as extra battery, extra SD cards, dry box… lost count of the amounts

Now comes the tought part of deciding on which DSLR to purchase. Do I get an entry-level DSLR like the Canon 450D or the Nikon D40x, or perhaps one of the other manufacturers like Sony or Pentax? Shoot for the stars and get the high-end professional bodies like the Nikon D3 or Canon EOS-5D Mark II? First, I decided to go with either of the 2 “mainstream” manufacturers, mainly because I wanted my investments in the lenses to last more than 10 years. Nikon has a history that their camera mounts are compatible even with the old lenses. It’s true, because my friend Scrumpiness has a couple of glass from his old film camera, and he could use them on his Nikon D80 which he purchase March 2007. That solved one problem.

When I am stepping up from such a good camera as the G7, I did not think that I should get an entry level body. Thus, when the Nikon D90 was announced, I was highly excited about it. Before that, I was looking at the Nikon D300. A full-frame professional body is out of the question, due to budget constraints, but the D300 seemed very interesting at that time. Some considerations in choosing the D90 are:

  1. Price – the D90 is about half the cost of the D300. It is a mid-range camera.
  2. Features – other than the professional features of the D300, the features comparison between the two are quite close.
  3. Huge upgrade over its predecessor the D80.
  4. Movie-mode! Its the first DSLR boasting this feature. And I have already found out how useful this feature is on the G7. This will prove to be fun.

So it shall be. The Nikon D90 Review by Dpreview strengthened my decision to get it. One of the beautiful galleries on the web, featuring photos taken by the D90, showcases its prowess. The next tough decision will be the lenses to go with the camera body. That is actually an even more complicated process. Another time, another post perhaps. This is so exciting! I will definitely want to post my own photos taken using the new baby in the very near future.