Wednesday, January 17, 2007
How To Choose A Digital SLR
What to look for...and look out for
The LCD monitor allows you to view shots right after you take them, so you can make sure the exposure, sharpness and other factors are what you expected. The monitor is also used to make camera settings via a series of menu screens.
Generally, the larger the LCD monitor, the easier it is to evaluate exposed images and read histograms (exposure graphs), shooting data and menu options. But consider the pixel count as well as monitor size. More pixels mean better detail on LCD monitors, just as they do in digital photos. Check the monitor's readability (some monitors are more legible than others, especially in bright sunlight and when viewed at an angle), and menu layout (how many buttons and arrow keys do you have to press to get to the correct menu and set something on it).
Most D-SLRs take CompactFlash cards, although a few newer entry-level models use the smaller SD cards common to consumer digital cameras. Some pro models have slots for both CF and SD cards (or CF and tiny xD-Picture Cards, for Fujifilm and Olympus cameras) so you can store images simultaneously on both cards, or store RAW images on one card and JPEGs on the other.
Today's D-SLRs let you record images in the RAW or JPEG formats; some let you record in both simultaneously, which is how many prefer to do it. RAW images provide better image quality because they're either uncompressed or losslessly compressed, and you can tailor them to your desires using RAW image software—you can change things like white balance and exposure compensation after the fact. RAW images take up a lot more space on memory cards than JPEGs do, and you have to use the RAW software to view the images and convert them into JPEGs or TIFFs.
JPEG images are compressed, so more will fit on a given memory card. At low levels of compression, image quality is little affected, but high levels can decrease image quality due to the lossy compression. Also, you can't change the camera—applied parameters after the fact as you can with RAW images.
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