Monday, June 25, 2007
D-SLRs: Entry-Level, Midrange, Pro
What’s the difference?
As the name suggests, these fall in between the entry-level models and the full-blown pro cameras, in terms of performance, feature set, price and ruggedness. Midrange models come in a wide range: Some are mini-steps up from entry-level models; others are mini-steps below pro models. I now have three generations of midrange D-SLRs, and use them all regularly, having recorded more than 160,000 exposures among them.
Midrange models generally have quicker autofocusing systems than entry-level models, with more AF points. The maximum number of images per second is also generally higher, the shutter good for more cycles and often with a top speed of 1⁄8000 sec. instead of 1⁄4000 sec., and there are some custom functions that let you tailor camera operations to your preferences.
Pro models generally don't have built-in flash units—that handy light source not finding favor among pros. But pro D-SLRs have remarkable flash capabilities with accessory flash units, used on- or off-camera, and incorporate PC terminals for use with studio flash systems.
The pro D-SLRs are the heavyweights of the D-SLR world, literally and figuratively. These were designed specifically for working pros and offer the most rugged construction, the greatest range of features and the best performance. They also carry the highest prices and are considerably larger and heavier than the other models. The pro models offer the quickest operation, although many of today's midrange and entry-level models start up, wake from sleep mode and autofocus very quickly.
If you use a camera a lot, especially in rugged conditions, or if you shoot quick action, you want a pro model. But pro cameras aren't for everyone: Besides the cost, they're bulky and heavy and more complicated to learn and set up than entry-level and midrange models. But their custom functions do let you "customize" the camera, changing the functions of various buttons and dials and activating or deactivating features to suit your shooting needs.
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