Friday, July 23, 2010

Choose Between Two Cameras—08/02/10

DPMag Published in Tip Of The Week
Choose Between Two Cameras—08/02/10

This Article Features Photo Zoom

People who know I’m a photographer often ask me the same question: What camera should I buy? I usually give them advice about the criteria that might be important to them based on how they might use the camera. Then it’s really up to them to choose the perfect model to meet their needs. Even with some guidance, choosing the perfect camera can still be a tricky proposition. It’s hard enough to choose between different brands, models and features, but once you’ve got your options narrowed down it can become an even harder choice to make. You can find yourself very stuck very easily. What if you’re comparing two cameras that are almost identical? How do you make the right choice? You’ve got to learn to value subtle differences in features based on how you might use them. To illustrate this, let’s look at a case study. The Canon EOS Rebel T2i and the Canon EOS 50D. Not only are these DSLRs similar, they’re even made by the same manufacturer. Taking brand preference out of the equation makes it clearer to focus on what really matters—the features and specifications. Still, these two cameras are priced similarly and have many close features and specifications.

The EOS Rebel T2i has an 18-megapixel APS-C sized CMOS sensor with Canon’s DIGIC 4 processor. The ISO range is 100 to 6400 (expandable to 12800), it has a three-inch LCD, HD-video capability, Live View mode, 3.7fps continuous shooting, a pop-up flash and an estimated street price of $799.

The EOS 50D, on the other hand, has a 15-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor with Canon’s DIGIC 4 processor. The ISOs go from 100 to 3200 (expandable to 12800) and it, too, has a three-inch LCD, as well as Live View mode, 6.3fps continuous shooting, a pop-up flash and an estimated street price of $999.

These are similar cameras.

It’s easy to see how a shopper could wind up having narrowed down his options to these two choices. The differences aren't dramatic, but when you look a little closer you can find clues as to what those differences mean for different photographers. So let’s do that.

- Video capability. The T2i shoots HD video but the 50D does not. For some photographers this is a deal breaker—if they want a camera to do double duty, the choice is obvious. But for other photographers it could not matter less. If you have no interest in video, don’t pay a premium for it. But if you’re not sure, perhaps that added feature will come in handy down the road. Since it doesn’t always signify a price premium (in this case, the HD-video camera is $200 less expensive than its counterpart) video might be a nice added bonus—especially for a casual camera user.

- Frame rate. Assuming video capability isn’t paramount, consider the shooting speed of each camera. The 50D has a maximum continuous shooting speed of 6.3 frames per second—significantly faster than the 3.7fps offered by the T2i. For sports and wildlife photographers that speed is crucial. A portrait or landscape photographer may not care about the extra speed. A camera that’s out of sync with the photographer is destined to become a doorstop—especially if the camera is just too slow to meet speed needs.

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