Home Cameras SLRs Getting The Most From D-SLR Camera Systems
Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Getting The Most From D-SLR Camera Systems

You bought more than just a camera body

Nikon CameraMid-level D-SLRs ($1,000-$1,700) offer even better performance, more features and more rugged construction. They're good choices for photographers who can't afford (or don't want to lug around) a heavy-duty pro model. Some pros use a midlevel D-SLR as a backup to their pro models.

Naturally, top-of-the-line pro D-SLRs offer the best performance, the most features and the most rugged build. They're also relatively heavy, and most cost more than $3,000. No question, they're the most capable D-SLRs—the dream cameras of many—but they're not the best choices for everyone. They're designed specifically for working pros, and casual photographers will find them too complicated.

Each D-SLR manufacturer offers a wide range of interchangeable lenses for its bodies. Additionally, independent lens manufacturers offer a variety of optics for film and digital SLRs in two basic categories: lower-priced alternatives to lenses in the camera manufacturers' lines and lenses not available from the camera manufacturers. While the camera manufacturers' lenses can be used only on their cameras, the independent lensmakers' wares generally are available in mounts to fit most popular SLRs. The question is, how well do they integrate with your particular D-SLR and its digital features? Check the lens maker's website for potential compatibility issues, especially with newer camera bodies.

With the notable exceptions of the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II and EOS 5D, all D-SLRs currently in production have image sensors that are smaller than the 36x24mm dimensions of a 35mm film frame. The majority use "APS-C" image sensors, so-called because they're about the same size as an Advanced Photo System "C-format" image frame, around 23.6x15.8mm. These smaller sensors "crop" into the image produced by the lens, resulting in a "telephoto" effect: when a 100mm lens is used on one of these D-SLRs, it produces about the framing of a 150mm lens on a 35mm SLR. This is good news for telephoto fans (a 100-300mm zoom in effect becomes a 150-450mm), but not so good for wide-angle fans (a 28mm wide-angle becomes a 42mm not-so-wide-angle).




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