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Should You buy an SLR camera?

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Why should you buy an SLR Camera?

If you ask yourself “Should I buy an SLR Camera?” then you should read this..

Before you buy an SLR Camera, first of all, you should know the two main differences between a basic camera and an SLR:

  • Image quality when viewed at full size (100% zoom)
  • Possibility to change lens.

Well, not quite, “Price is also a big factor”. SLR are very affordables in most cases, but to reach their full potential, they requires good and “generally expensives” lenses. And sometimes, a lot of them…
If you buy an SLR Camera and only use the basic lens that comes with it, you will probably get results similar to ordinary cameras. So it’s a bit a waste of money.

Good lenses usually cost at least $500 each, so you have to be willing to pay more if you want to have acceptable results. When you’re not a professional, you don’t always have the budget or confidence, to invest in them. Basically, you will need to spend between $1500 and $2000, to buy the camera, a good lens, a second battery, a memory card and a camera bag to put everything in.

What about the image Quality then?

Good image quality permit you to do Large Printout, like wall size. Because of this size, image defects also become much more apparent. To prevent those image defects, you have to know your lenses limitations. Contrarily as what you might think, lenses are not perfect, and you have to know how to be able to find their limits. They all have defects, even the most expensive ones. By now, you must be asking yourself, what the heck is he talking about? Well, I will make it simple. Here’s a list of lens defects and their visual descriptions:

1- Softness:

What we call “Softness” is when an image is blurred when viewed at full size (zoom: 100%). On the image below, I have tested my own 50mm F1.4 lens on a piece of newspaper. To do this, you put your camera on a tripod and take the same picture with different lens aperture.

The Number on each image represent the Aperture of the lens. (1.4 being the largest aperture and 22 being the smallest). As you can see on this image, the image is a bit blurred at aperture 1.4 and 2.0. The image quality start to be sharper from 3.2 and up until 22.Lens Optimum Range test sample imageSoftness is the most important lens defect. On this lens, I only changed the aperture since it was a fixed lens. If you buy a zoom, you also have to test it at different zoom lenghts. Ex: for a 24-105mm like mine, I would test it at 24mm, 50mm and 105mm and do aperture verification every time.

2- Chromatic Aberration – aka Purple Fringing (Purple color appearing on high contrast area, more specificaly on border area)

You probably already saw this defect on tv image, and if you didn’t, you will now. LOL. The problem appear more likely on image external border, and is more evident when you use a larger aperture. On the image below, the first one on the left is the worse case at maximum aperture. You can see the blue-purple lines along the black outlines. Things improve as you go for smaller apertures.purple fringing sample image

3- Vignetting (Darkening area around the hedge of the photo)

As you can see in the image below, it is the darkening effect on the four corner of the image. Again, this problem is more apparent on large aperture.lens vignetting sample image

4- Visual Distorsion:

Ideally, you want image with no distortion. The barrel distortion below appear on wide angle lens (10-20mm) and the pincushion distortion appear on long zoom (200mm and more). This problem is not as critical as the first three, since most people don’t even notice it, or are aware of its existence. Only remember that people with look fatter on wide angle and skinnier on ZOOM.lens image distortion sample

What are the SLR camera advantages?

1- Being able to change lensesΒ is one of the best advantage of the SLRs. You can use:

  • Wide angle Lens: perfect for architectural shooting.
  • Fix lens: for uptimum image quality.
  • Big Zoom lenses: When you are far from your subject, like in the nature wilderness
  • Special Effect lenses:
    • Fisheye Lens
    • Soft-focus lens for wedding
    • Super Wide Angle
    • Distortion Lenses

2- Sport Photography: It requires a camera that can shoot a lot of image per second, around 8-12 images/sec. Only SLRs can do that.
3- Aperture Selection: Being able to select the camera aperture let you choose between a blurred or a clean background. The image below show the difference between different aperture settings:dof vs aperture imageSee as the background is blurred on the first one, and gradually get sharper as you go toward the left. It is the effect of the aperture. I always use the Aperture Priority Setting on my camera, so i’m able to ajust this on every images.

4- Bracketing: Bracketing is the possibility to let the camera shoot three pictures instead of one. Each one having a different exposition. Very useful when the lighting is unpredictable. Most of the time, one of the three images will be good and you won’t have to re-shoot.
There are others useful functions in your SLR, but you will have to read the camera manual to know them.


We saw some people buy an SLR Camera thinking they would shoot better pictures, only to be deceived that their images still look the same. Most of them didn’t read the manual and don’t know how to use their camera. If you use the all-automatic setting on an SLR, as well buy a regular camera or phone. If you buy an SLR Camera, you have to know exactly how to use it, and the only way to achieve this is by reading the camera manual. It is basically essential, it will make the difference between using it as an amateur, or as a Professional.
We hope reading this post will help you make an clearer decision on your next camera.

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