Well, this goes beyond your question, but I?m going to suggest that you reconsider the move to a DSLR. Personally I find the move to DSLR?s hard to understand, and I think that the camera industry could make a much better camera, that almost (ALMOST !!) all non-professional photographers would prefer to a DSLR, if it wasn?t for the ?mystique? of being a DSLR.
Now let me say that I?m a fairly sophisticated photographer, and I?ve owned SLRs with multiple lenses ever since my Minolta SRT-101 back around 1970. And all of my film cameras were SLRs. But there were two reasons for that:
-I wanted ?what you see is what you get? -- a viewfinder image that was exactly what I would shoot
-I wanted lens flexibility, wide angle to long telephoto
But in a digital camera, ?what you see is what you get? is inherent ... you can?t get anything other than the image you will actually shoot through the very same sensor that records the image when you do shoot.
And as for lenses, where I am suggesting that you do go is to a ?super zoom?, a non-SLR camera with a 10:1 or 12: zoom lens .... in terms of 35mm equivalents, a lens that is roughly 24mm to 290mm.
Thus, I think that in the rush to DSLRs, the entire reason for [film] SLRs in the first place has been lost, and the industry and the consumers have made a move that really doesn?t make a whole lot of sense.
So tell me, are you so professional (definitely some photographers are), or so perfectionist (and that is your right also) that the lenses in ?super zooms? really are not acceptable, and you must actually change lenses to get acceptable wide angle and zoom? Because for myself, I?ve found that not being a professional photographer, and taking pictures for my own pleasure during my own vacations and leisure activies, the act of carrying around a camera bag with multiple lenses that borders on being a suitcase, and fooling with those lenses and other accessories detracts from my own enjoyment of the moment.
Yes, I want the pictures, and so I?m willing to carry around a relatively large and heavy, relatively sophisticated camera. But not a whole suitcase of lenses, etc. And if you are not going to be changing lenses, then the whole point of an SLR starts to get lost. I mean, what does all of the mechanical complexity and cost of a flip-up reflex lens system really buy you? It only really buys you two things, interchangeable lenses, and a true optical viewfinder (more on that below).
So what should you be looking for? And as much to the point, what should the camera companies be making for customers like me who take a lot of pictures, who understand exposure and depth of field and composition, but who don?t want the pleasure of a vacation experience to be burdened by equipment that, really, only a professional photographer would NEED:
1. An SLR-like ?Super-Zoom? camera with one really good fixed lens that is likely to meet all of your needs. 24 to 290mm, give or take at bit at either or both ends (but not less than 10:1). And all of the features (and complexity and sophistication) of an SLR. But no reflex optics, and no interchangeable lenses.
2. An electronic viewfinder that is as good as optical. Bright, very high resolution and refreshed fast (at least 60 times per second). Easily possible; but many cameras ?cheap out? and don?t do it.
3. A large image sensor, possibly 35mm full-frame, but not less than APS size. Big enough, and good enough, that ISO 800 (and maybe even 1,600) is not only present, but useable.
4. Good, effective image stabilization (electronic or mechanical)
The 3rd point is really WHY DSLRs generally are superior to non DSLR cameras; yet, there is no actual connection between having a reflex SLR mechanism or not and the sensor size. The advantage of a large sensor is low noise, which in turn enables good results at high speed (e.g. low-noise high ISO performance). Most non-DSLRs still use ?tiny? sensors (6 to 10 megapixels in a sensor the size of the eraser on a #2 pencil), but a few do use APS size sensors (sensors the size of the film negative on an APS camera), while most DSLRs use sensors the size of a 35mm negative. But there?s no reason that a non DSLR can?t use a full-size sensor, and, actually, for most people an APS size sensor (and these do exist in some non-DSLR cameras) probably is good enough. Of course, it?s harder to do a high-ratio, high-quality lens with a larger image sensor, but it?s not impossible: Tamron has been making some very good quality 28-200mm and 28-300mm lenses for FILM SLR cameras for more than a decade. But this is another reason that an APS sized sensor (but nothing smaller) may be most appropriate.
So why not go SLR?:
-SLR?s generally cannot do video
-SLR?s have really serious problems with dust & dirt getting on the image sensor
-SLR?s are mechanically complex for no really justifiable reason
-SLR?s cost more ... STARTING about double what some very good ?Super Zoom? cameras cost
Now no one makes the perfect ?Super Zoom? ... yet. But there are some cameras that are very close. As an admitted Fuji fan, I like the Fuji S6000fd (only about $330) and the S9000 (about $100 more). And there are some other very good (perhaps better) choices. But the ?perfect? Super Zoom is not far from being realized, and when all things are considered, even existing choices may come closer to meeting your needs than a DSLR unless your really NEED to be able to change lenses. SuperZoom cameras like the S6000fd are very good cameras, they are NOT ?point and shoot?, and they have pretty much all of the ?bells and whistles? of the DSLRs, without some of the problems, without all of the cost, and with one major feature (video) that for me is a ?deal killer?.
Now, however, regardless of the type of camera that you get, I have found the most useful camera site to be www.dpreview.com. They have detailed, exhaustive and very professional reviews there that will answer all of your questions that don?t require spending ?hands on? with the camera that you are considering, and the forums will allow you to discuss your candidates with people who already own them and have real-world experience with them. It?s invaluable, and it?s where I?d start.
Best of luck; all of the digital cameras available today are so much better than what we had just 2 or 3 years ago that you almost can?t go wrong.
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