Monday, January 29, 2007
D-SLRs Vs. Advanced Compacts
Both digital camera types offer real advantages—which one is right for you?
One thing you have to keep in mind with a D-SLR is that you may get more depth of field in your photo than you see in the finder. That's because you're viewing the image with the lens wide open, but usually shooting it at a smaller aperture. Pros use a camera's depth-of-field preview to get a better idea of what the image will look like.
In addition to the traditional viewfinder, D-SLRs have a rear LCD monitor for reviewing the image after it's taken. The display can show a histogram for judging the accuracy of your exposures and can zoom in to help you confirm focus. Most D-SLRs also can display "blinkies"—flashing indicators for areas of blown-out highlight detail (and sometimes the shadow areas as well).
Advanced Compact Viewing. Advanced compacts have a rear LCD monitor, but unlike the D-SLRs, advanced compacts' LCD monitors are live—they show you what the effects of settings like white balance and exposure look like before you release the shutter. On the display, information like the histogram can be live, too.
Because advanced compacts' rear LCD monitors often are used for composition, they're designed to fold out or even twist around for a wider range of viewing angles. While the view isn't as clear on these displays as an SLR's ground glass, the convenience of the live view and the angled LCD monitor is great for working with the camera above or below eye-level. It can be a real boon when you're shooting over the heads of a crowd, for example. If rear LCD monitors have a weak spot, it's that it can be difficult to judge focus accurately or to view the image in bright light.
EVFs feature an eye-level viewfinder window like a D-SLR, but replace the ground glass with a magnified electronic display otherwise similar to a rear LCD monitor's. The EVF's chief advantage is that it keeps light off the display, making details easier to see in bright sunlight. Even the best of the EVFs, though, can't equal the clarity or responsiveness of a D-SLR's ground glass, but the displays continue to improve. Some advanced compacts have a straight-through optical viewfinder instead.
D-SLRs are noticeably larger and heavier than their advanced compact counterparts. Add a lens or lenses for a zoom range equivalent to that of some of the wider-ranging advanced compacts' zooms, and a D-SLR system grows even larger. While they're not as convenient to carry around, the D-SLRs' size allows larger imaging sensors for improved image quality (explained below). The bigger cameras also have more room for controls so they usually feature faster access to the settings you use the most.
Advanced compacts are small and light, and easy to take along wherever you go. They pack a tremendous capability into a very small volume.
Page 2 of 5