March 9, 2007, Newsletter Issue #29: Choosing a d-SLR Means Extra Considerations

Tip of the Week

When you're in the market for a digital SLR, there are a few extra features you may want to consider before making a purchase. Because d-SLR's are usually part of a system, what the system and third-party manufacturers offer for lenses and accessories may play into your decision.

Here are just a few items you may want to consider:

Lenses Most of the major manufacturers offer a pretty full line of lenses. But some d-SLR's have access to fewer lenses than others. The Olympus Evolt E-330, for example, has some great features that make it a very appealing choice. But it also has fewer lens options than either Nikon's or Canon's entry-level d-SLR's.

Focal Length Multiplier Most d-SLR's but not all - have image sensors that are smaller than a 35mm frame. And most lenses were designed for use with 35mm film cameras. The result is that the stated focal length of these lenses has to be adjusted for the smaller image area of the d-SLR's. The most common focal length multiplier is 1.5x. In that case, a 200mm lens would effectively function as a 300mm lens.

Vibration Reduction If you shoot action, in low light or with long lenses, a VR feature can come in handy. Some manufacturers build VR technology into their cameras, while others build it into their lenses. If you want the feature, it's generally less expensive to go with in-camera VR technology.

Interface SLR users tend to shoot a lot. And most d-SLR's create pretty big files especially if you're saving images as RAW or TIFF files. For that reason, a fast computer connection is important. Most d-SLR's offer a USB 2.0 connection. But a few like the Nikon D70 still use the older (and slower) USB 1.1. A handful such as Canon's EOS-1Ds Mark II - provide IEEE 1394 (Firewire). Fuji's Finepix S3 Pro actually has both USB and Firewire connections.

Remote Control The remote is the modern version of the old cable release. They're anywhere from handy to essential for macro, low light and nature photography. Various d-SLR's offer wireless or tethered remotes. For some models, the remote control is an optional accessory. And for a few mostly low-end cameras like the Pentax K110D, no remote control is available.

Shutter Speeds, ISO Sensitivity Depending on the type of shooting you do, very fast or very slow shutter speeds and higher ISO sensitivities (like ISO3200) may be important considerations.

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