Thursday, May 20, 2010

Choosing my first DSLR...

...was surprisingly enough, not the toughest decision I had to make. Thanks to many family and friends who are professional and almost-professional photographers.

I had been contemplating over this one for years now. Finally, when Ykaka suggested I should graduate to a DSLR already, I said to myself, this was it! After being a proud owner of a regular SLR camera with film, it was about time to makeup my mind about digital SLR and just go for it. To be honest, I didn't do too much research on any particular area about cameras because I wanted to buy something that I could use for everything - portraits, macros, scenes, and everything else. So for me, it was more of a decision to pick out the best entry level camera there was. My budget was sort of flexible, but I didn't want to go overboard with it.

Some thoughts to share if you're in the same place where I was before yesterday: If you can't make up your mind at any given point, the thing to do is, wait... the best part about that is, you'll probably get a better camera for the same money you'll spend. The bad thing about it is, you'll lose out on taking pictures during that time. And the worst is, the wait never ends if you keep doing that. So I finally decided to decide.

Here are some of the reasons why I chose Nikon D5000 over Canon T1i.

A few months back, I spent a lot of time on cnet reviews reading about DSLR basics. It is a wonderful site for some excellent info and confused me quite a lot. So this time, the keyword for me was "entry level" so I started out with the timelines for different cameras from both of these brands. I searched on google and wikipedia mostly to find which cameras fell under these category. I narrowed down on 3 models of Nikon and 3 models of Canon. Then it was time to compare them all amongst each other and within their same manufacturer. This helped narrow down even further to 2 models from each brand. Then I went on to quite a few websites to compare the features and check the prices of these four models. The feature comparison helped narrow down even further to two models that I mentioned above.

These are some of the sites I spend hours on to compare prices and packages:
Ritz Camera
B&H Photo Video
Fry's electronics is also another option along with I didn't check either of these as it was creating information overload in my head.

I should add that one of the main reasons to choose a Nikon was that I already own a Nikon N65, which has already made a unique place in my heart so I was a bit partial to begin with. Then came the following points:

  1. Automatic mode - Nikon offers an automatic mode that Canon does not have. This makes the camera shoot like a normal point and shoot one. I liked this option a lot for the simplicity of use. Until I get into the details about the DSLR shooting and utilizing all the features, this would be like a default that I can use.
  2. Image sensor - Nikon has slightly bigger one. The difference is in less than a millimeter.
  3. Burst mode - Nikon has it and Canon doesn't. To be honest, I don't know a thing about burst mode, but that wasn't my deciding factor.
  4. Weight - Nikon weighs almost the double at 28.8 oz where as Canon is at 16.9 oz. I talked to a few photographers and they said this was because the insides of a Nikon used magnesium alloy or similar metal for the core of camera where as Canon used plastic. I liked the fact that Nikon was heavier. That would make it heavy for usage but a sturdier camera too.
  5. Price wise, Nikon was about $50 less than Canon.


  1. The LCD/live view screen size is 2.7 in in Nikon, Canon has 3 in.
  2. Megapixel - Canon had 15+ Nikon has 12+ but I was told that resolution of more than 10 didn't make too much of a difference unless you were printing huge posters.
  3. HD video - I am guessing the Nikon had 720p HD video where as Canon had 1000+p HD video. I'm not entirely sure though.
  4. Nikon's weight is more making it a bit bulkier camera than Canon.

Everything else was practicaly the same. They both have video mode, live view, and support JPG, RAW and JPG+RAW (this means it generates both of these files for each photo) formats for photograph files. So after evaluating all these, I realized that I can live with the cons of Nikon better than the cons of the Canon.

Some really good suggestions that helped me make this decision were:

  1. Do not think too much. Spending months or weeks deciding about cameras are not reasonable and don't help you make a better decision.
  2. Once you decide on a camera, don't doubt your choice. Just go with it and enjoy yourself.
  3. Get an upgradable camera and don't be afraid to spend a bit more to get a better longer lasting camera. You are not going to buy another one for at least five years, or atleast you want to think like that. ;)
  4. Like everyone else using a DSLR tells you, and Sandeep said it here too, lenses are very important so get a camera that works with wide range of lenses with interchangeable mount. Doesn't have to be wide range of manufacturers.
  5. When you purchase lenses, and if they are Nikon, be sure that they have VR (vibration reduction) and DX (Digital extra format - sensor type, majority of Nikon lenses use this).
  6. Definitely get at least the haze filter or UV filter to protect the lens.
  7. Do not buy a DSLR without the carrying bag/case. That helps protect your prized possession.
  8. Don't do something because someone else wants you to do it. Do it because YOU want to do it.
  9. Go with your gut feeling.

I added the last two points in there. :) Now comes the most challenging part: learning how to use it. For a starter, I watched the video of Bob Krist, the photographer for National Geographic. It was very helpful. Now I'm reading the instruction manual and keep taking photos in between to test what I just just learned. Still getting more comfortable with holding such a big camera and learning about a gazillion settings on it. The photos are not coming out as what I'd expect them to be. They're not bad, just completely different. The details in the photos are excellent. My Sony digital point-and-shoot has 14 MP and that one doesn't have nearly as much detail as this 12.3 MP camera. It's very interesting to note that. Am also learning what filters do and learning what is meant by different terminologies such as f stops, aperture, shutter speed, wide angle, etc. Gotta be patient with self and the learning process.

Here's a glimpse to some of my newest creations:

Bay Bridge - shaken not stirred ;)


Port of San Francisco

White flowers


chinmai said...

excellent..and congrats.. i have been wanting this priced possession since last 4-5 yrs and have still been waiting :( :) u r inspiring to get one soon.. :))

~ ॐ ~ said...

Beautifully written post this be!!!

and an excellent thought process for someone who wants to buy a new camera...

In my opinion, the camera only matters when you are reading about it on paper! What will make me buy a camera would be how I feel when I hold it.. the science behind it is getting so competitive and advanced that neither of the companies, be it Canon, Nikon, Sony, or others can afford to be even a step behind the other!

Ejoy the nikon! it does come with a better body for sure!

Kanan said...

Chinmai, Thanks! :) It is definitely worth going for an SLR. Hope my research and comments will be of help to make a better decision. :) And keep me posted about the progress... all the very best to you.

Kanan said...

Prashant, hi and THANKS!! Your work is also very inspiring. I agree about how these companies can't afford to step behind each other. I am liking my D5000 and now getting more comfortable with holding it, using it and taking care of it. Got any tips/tricks for me that you thought you wished you knew earlier in your DSLR ventures? I find fingerprints on the lenses most annoying until now. It's almost frustrating.

Btw, thanks for sharing your thoughts and best of all, your inspiring work. :)

Stupidosaur said...

Ah well, no DSLRs for me yet. I use a chindi Sony DSC-H7 so far. That too I purchased recently (in Dec 2007), for something around 18000 ($450 canadian), 2GB memory card inclusive, and after paying all Canadian 10 14 percent whatever taxes :P

Maybe I should update my pics blog.

I like the weird shape of your SF port due to perspective and lens magic :)

Make a pics blog!

Kanan said...

Stupidosaur, right, I also have one of those chindi Sony pocket camera (DSC-W370). It's really convenient to use and carry around so I use that too with the DSLR. Mine was also something like that, I think around $300. But I found that the Carl Zeiss lenses are so much better than Sony lenses. I made a mistake of going with the Sony lens and am not too happy but oh well. I still would have my good ol' DSC-W90 in a couple of months so I can't really complain. :)

Yup, it would be nice to see updates on your photo blog. I think it was those boat pics that I liked a lot. The place looked like Kerala. Was it really?
I used to have a photo blog and then I merged it with this one. If you click on the Piktures label, you'll see the posts. Thanks for your suggestions.