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WTF is with Big Cameras?

Posted 2009.08.26 5.20 in Photography, Pointless Blather

Although I’ve been having a lot of fun with my new DSLR over the past several weeks, I can’t get over the fact that it’s, well, big. I mean, it’s a big chunky body, then my prime lens is a big chunky lens. The lens is almost a pound and the body is probably 3/4 pound. Put them together and hang them from a strap and you’ve got yourself a significant weapon.

It wasn’t till I set my new camera next to my old, that the size difference really hit home. I’d like to show you the difference but that’d require yet another camera to get the picture, so that will have to wait for now. Suffice to say, my old manual 35mm SLR is significantly smaller and lighter – yet it also feels more solid as it’s mostly metal while the new DSLR is mostly plastic.

What makes this even less understandable is that the new camera captures a smaller image – it’s a “crop sensor”, APS-C size sensor. The camera body feels about twice as heavy, and is about twice the size, and all this to capture an image less than 2/3 the size of a 35mm frame. Ok maybe you say, but the new camera has all the technology in it and the old manual camera doesn’t? Well sort of. The old camera has a light meter, electronic shutter and all that, just no auto-focus. But then, we all know how big and bulky technology has gotten over the last 20 years, right?

DLSR on the left, old manual SLR on the right.

DLSR on the left, old manual SLR on the right.

Then the thing that really boggles my mind is these guys on the photography forums, who comment that the consumer DSLRs like mine are too small, that they like the big pro bodies that are larger and easier to handle. WTF?

Even the lenses are gargantuan – below are the two normal prime lenses, without the cameras. The 30mm f/1.4 that I use on the DSLR is a 1-pound monster, compared to the 50mm f/1.7 that I used for years on the old Minolta.

30mm DLSR on the left, old 50mm on the right.

30mm DLSR on the left, old 50mm on the right.

And before anyone starts ragging on me about how I should stop fussing about the equipment and learn to take better photos, I’ll point out that I can’t take crisp clear photos of both of my good cameras side-by-side, without using a third camera! These two pics were taken with my cellphone, in a dark room using only my computer screen for illumination. So thpppppt!

Article on DSLR Cameras

Posted 2009.08.01 9.18 in Computers/Internet/Technology, Photography

Yesterday while surfing for some lens information, I came across this article Building a Digital SLR System – It’s a bit long, and was originally written a few years ago (though updated last year) but it was a great read. Very well written, informative, and detailed, it is both a great primer for someone who is in the market for a DSLR, and also has some great information for people who’ve just bought a DSLR and are looking to get the most out of it.

The article doesn’t just look at a couple options and make a suggestion – it’s not really a review. It doesn’t really make any suggestions wrt makes / models. Rather, it explains the differences between the various manufacturers, and highlights what you really need to know in order to make your own informed decision.

Even some technical aspects are covered, but in lay terms to make it easy to grasp the concept. Personally, I appreciated the explanation of focal length/sensor sizes, or as they’re referred to in the article, “big lens/big sensor; big lens/small sensor; small lens/small sensor”. You’ll see what I mean when you read it.

Then it goes on to discuss lenses – what to look for, what to avoid, and why. It even gives practical ideas and suggestions to help one get familiar with and gain proficiency in their new gear, with a logical and helpful progression of challenges.

All in all I think it’s a great article and the author, Philip Greenspun has done a fantastic job.