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Digital SLR or not?

I am currently debating wether or not to upgrade to a digital SLR. The only hesitation I have right now is cost. I currently have a 3.2MP, 3x optical zoom camera. I have realized that the zoom and flash are not cutting it in some of the important pictures I'm taking (indoor school functions for example).

I've looked at some 10x zoom models at around $500. That started me thinking about going all out and getting an SLR. Can anybody help?

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Comments
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Digital SLR or not

It would have been helpful if we knew what brand/model camera you presently have.

If it is a digital camera with manual controls, or you are familiar with using manual controls, the transition to a DSLR will be easy enough.

If your present camera is point-and-shoot, or you are not familiar with using manual controls, the transition to a DSLR will be a pretty big jump.

If you are wanting to take indoor school function photos, this will require using manual controls. Regardless if it is DSLR or not.

Here is a link about exposure control:

http://www.pbase.com/otfchallenge/the_basics

If you are familiar with most of what this covers, go for the DSLR.

If these subjects are not familiar, let us know.
I have a plan "B" in mind.

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Manual controls

I currently have an Olympus Camedia D550.

To be perfectly honest, I haven't used manual controls. However, I have noticed that I have been getting more interested in taking pictures of stuff other than the kids.

I have been a point & shoot guy up until now.

By the way, the info in the link is VERY unfamiliar!!

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Advanced Cameras

I have used the Olympus D550 and it is a nice camera.

It has some manual controls but not enough for me.

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Sounds like you want to get into a more advanced camera. You will get to do some reading, to catch on to the mechanics of photography.

That link I provided, is a good start.

I think the jump to a DSLR may be too much of a jump.
In addition to learning about manual controls you are going to have to learn about selecting lenses. And the DSLR has over twice as many manual controls available than does a non DSLR camera. You are likely to spend more time learning than taking photos.

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A suggestion: Plan B

An excellent camera for taking photos at school functions (inside and out) is the Panasonic DMC-FZ20.
It sells for about $500.

It has a 12X zoom lens with Image Stabilization. The Leica lens is rated at F2.8 throughout the zoom range. That makes it a good lens for indoor school events where flash is not allowed or you are too far away for a flash to be effective. Most lenses require more light when zooming, this one does not.

Even then, you will need to resort to manual controls many times because there is insufficient light for point-and-shoot techniques. Remember, if you are also trying to capture some action, you have to use a faster shutter speed. Shooting at higher shutter speeds requires more light. When you run out of enough light, you use more manual controls and raise the ISO setting to effectivly add more light.

The payoff is, you will be able to get photos that others can not.

Here is a link to a review of the FZ20 camera:

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonicfz20/

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