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Digital SLR demands skills

Moving from a point and click camera to a SLR (single lense reflex) is an expensive and a long jump. ROGER MICHIN of Canon SA gives a few guidelines when buying your first SLR.

Your move to digital SLR photography opens up a whole new world of experimentation and growth as the technology and its enabler (the camera) lends it itself to a myriad of photographic opportunities. Graduating to digital SLR status no doubt means that you are taking photography more serious and would like to start exploring what different lenses, lighting and other kit can bring to the process.

However, with a digital SLR you will also experience a bit of de-automation – some functionality won’t be available at the simple “press-of-the-button”” which means you will have to be armed with some photographic knowledge.

Also, there are quite a number of considerations when buying your digital SLR: it is a sizeable investment so ensure you make the right decision from the get-go to not only future-proof it but also make the most of your entry into this world.

“”Always buy the best possible kit you can afford – don’t opt for a base model because you feel it is the logical jump from a point-and-shoot,’ advises Roger Machin, photo video product manager at Canon SA.

“”A more expensive model will offer higher specifications that in turn protect your investment – particularly as you grow as a photographer.””

Another important consideration is what one can expect from a digital SLR. Heinrich Pretorius, Canon Product Specialist at distributor Drive Control Corporation (DCC) suggests: “”Look for a bundled offering that includes a digital SLR, an extra lens, bag and other accessories. These can be quite pricey if you purchase them individually. Fortunately there are great bundled options out there: particularly over the Festive Season.””

“”Also don’t feel embarrassed to ask for a test run before purchasing your camera,”” adds Pretorius. “”It will allow you to practically look beyond any marketing hype and test it for yourself.””

For most enthusiastic photographers the next step after having tested and bought your digital SLR and accessories is to start taking pictures. Here Machin recommends reading up on the basics of your camera. “”For example, zoom is no longer automatic and features such as auto focus can be quite tricky if you don’t have some working knowledge of your camera.””

Fortunately, this can be remedied quite easily. “”Any photographic sales person worth his or her salt will be able to provide you with sound advice and a quick crash course in how to use your digital SLR,”” says Machin.

Alternatively, give the photography lecturer at your local tertiary institution a quick call – it will only take a few minutes and at least you’ll know your basics are solid. In addition, major manufacturers have call centres and trained representatives to help you along your journey.

As mentioned, a lot of bundles come with an extra lens, but knowing which one to choose and how to use it introduces another challenge. “”A standard lens can be quite limiting particularly as you start experimenting with wider angles or closer shots,”” says Pretorius.

“”Here, for example it would be good to invest in a wide-angle lens such as the Canon EF-S 18-55mm or a telephoto lens such as the Canon EF-S 55-250mm. Lenses will quickly show you where your skill still needs some work and are critical tools in achieving good photos.””

Whilst the latest cameras come with great feature and user guides, it will not do you any good if you don’t understand the basics. It will be well worth your while to do your homework and familiarise yourself with the basics of digital SLRs, and should provide for a much more productive, fun and gratifying photographic experience.

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