On switching to a DSLR

Dean Allen writes about his experience of switching to a Nikon DSLR after using point & shoot cameras for a long time:

I feel like someone handed a slice of hot toast spread with cultured butter after a lifetime breakfasting on Skittles and government cheese.

I can definitely relate. Using a D40x changed the way I think about photography. It feels so much more satisfying than using a point & shoot camera and it isn’t really any more difficult to use. In fact using it in full automatic mode is very similar to using a point & shoot.

Before I got the D40x, I took lots of photos, but I never really thought about the composition or technical details; I just wanted to capture the moment & memories. With a DSLR I think more about the quality and composition of the shot since I have a lot more control over it. I can still take a quick shot in auto mode or have someone who’s never used a DSLR take a picture as easily as they can with a point & shoot.

However, using full automatic mode doesn’t give you full control. The next step up from auto is the programmed automatic (P) mode, which also lets you adjust the white balance, ISO sensitivity, and change the exposure, yet it isn’t really any more difficult than full automatic.

I find that I prefer using Aperture Priority mode, since it lets me control the depth of field by specifying the aperture setting. Even this mode isn’t any more difficult, since it still produces the correct exposure by adjusting the shutter speed & ISO setting to match the chosen aperture setting.

The big win for a DSLR is the availability of raw format for photos, which allows a lot more adjustment to be done in Aperture or Photoshop to compensate for incorrect exposure and fix other problems to salvage a shot that isn’t quite perfect.


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