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New camera

Posted in Personal on 2008-01-25 20:36

Canon EOS 400d

On Tuesday I went to the local camera store and came out with a Canon EOS 400D, sold in the US under the idiotic name of Canon Digital Rebel XTi. I'd done quite a bit of reading at dpreview.com beforehand, focusing especially on the lowest-cost DSLR cameras from Canon (the one I bought), Nikon (the D40x), and Olympus (the E-410). From what I was able to gather, they produce images of much the same quality, although the Olympus was perhaps slightly behind and needed its settings tweaked a bit. The Canon came with a poor lens by default. Other than that, they seemed pretty much equal.

Except for one thing: the Olympus has "live view," which means you can compose the picture not just using the viewfinder, but also using the LCD which displays a, well, live view of what the sensor is seeing. This was how I was used to working with my compact cameras, and I was skeptical of giving it up in favour of using the viewfinder only. Hence my interest in the Olympus. However, the guy at the store quickly convinced me that it was lower-quality (smaller sensor, for one thing), and that I might as well try to get used to going via the viewfinder.

So, when I was told the best choice was the Canon with a Sigma lens, and the second best the Nikon with the standard lens, I chose the Canon. My compact is a Canon, and I've been very happy with it, so staying with Canon for now seemed as good a choice as any.

Canon Powershot A700

A few days later I've shot 173 photos, quite a few of them test photos just to try it out, and I have to declare myself well content with the purchase. The camera delivers clear, crisp images, and it can do things I could only dream of doing with the compact camera. It performs much better in low light, it allows me to reduce depth of field when I want (although not as far from the camera as I'd like), and the dynamic range is better. How it performs on overcast days I don't know, as I haven't been shooting on any yet.

I'm slowly getting used to the viewfinder, but find that I still miss using the LCD. It's easier to see if the focus is right using the viewfinder, but my eyes are crappy enough that it's hard for me even with the viewfinder. A downside of it is that you only see white balance and exposure after you've taken the photo. They will be set to what the camera thinks is right, but, well, the camera isn't always right about this. You can always take another picture, of course, but I really liked getting it right the first time, and I find I have to remind myself to check the result afterwards. We'll see if I get used to it.

Olympus D390 C150

Another difference I've found in shooting with this camera is that it is a lot more finicky about getting the focusing exactly right. I can't remember ever having shot an out-of-focus photo with the old compact camera. Probably this is because the lens opening is so small that depth of field is always huge. This is not the case with the new camera, of course, and so much more care must be taken over the focusing. Another new thing to remember.

The camera (with lens) is quite a bit bigger than my compact, so just slipping it in my pocket is out of the question. To take it anywhere I really need to take the camera bag as well. Luckily, the bag fits in my usual city-walking bag as well as the laptop backpack, so most likely I'll be able to bring it where I want. Whether I really do remains to be seen.

Given that at least two thirds of the weight of my current setup is the lens I'll probably buy a lighter prime lens if I find that the weight becomes a real issue. These are supposed to draw more light than zoom lenses, so for many kinds of uses a prime lens would probably be superior anyway.

Chances are that the pictures on this site will improve quite a bit from now on. Exactly how big the effect will be remains to be seen, but I'm really looking forward to playing more with this camera. And if you look at the three first photos in this blog entry you'll note the difference already. The first is taken with the compact camera, the second two with the new DSLR. The quality difference is noticeable.

Tordenskjold, in front of Oslo city hall







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Comments

Reidar Bratsberg - 2008-01-26 10:55:19

Congratulations on your purchase, you won't regret it.

Regarding primes: I have the Canon 50mm 1.4, and I can heartily recommend it! (The "plastic" 1.8 is also a very good buy at a third of he price, but I have owned and broken two of them.) It's a wonderful lens, light, a nice "bokeh" and great for low light situations and portraits.

Svein - 2008-01-27 17:41:11

Congratulations! It so happened that I won a similar camera in a net survey before Christmas. Well, I think I won it because it hasn't showed up yet. I think I'll have to ask the company behind the survey in a gentle way one of these days..

Arnoud Haak - 2008-01-29 07:26:27

I've got a Nikon D40 camera. It was recommended to me by salesman in the shop where I bought it. It was a bit getting used to in comparison with my trusty old Canon powershot A460 but it is a pig to travel with...

Stefan Lischke - 2008-01-31 08:32:40

congrats, hope to see you soon @ flickr.com

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