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Defining Camera Categories 27
Book I Chapter 2
Figure 2-6: Advanced consumer models may offer both a back-panel LCD and a second EVF display seen through a viewing window.
Prosumer dSLR models
Prosumer digital SLR cameras (see Figure 2-7) are the models that photo buffs and even a few professional photographers favor. The avid photographer doesnít countenance much in the way of compromises and is willing to spend the $600 to $1,800 sticker price for these cameras in order to get the advanced features. Pros find them useful as backup cameras, even if most arenít quite rugged enough to take the beating that professional equipment is subjected to.
Prosumer dSLR cameras feature interchangeable lenses and are prized for their ultra-fast response. Such cameras have virtually no shutter lag (the delay between when you press the shutter release all the way and when the picture is actually taken) and can crank out 3 to 5 pictures per second for action sequence photography. They can be purchased just as a camera body alone (in case you already own compatible lenses, perhaps for an older film camera) or in a kit that includes an inexpensive but serviceable zoom in the 18mm-55mm or 18mm-70mm range.
Expect a minimum of 6 to 10 million pixels to shoot with, plus a lot of extra weight to lug around compared to point-and-shoot cameras. All controls and features of a prosumer digital SLR match or beat those found on conventional film cameras. You get automatic and manual focus, multiple automated exposure modes, plus manual shutter speed and lens opening settings if you
Defining Camera Categories
want them. The key differences between high-priced prosumer digital SLR cameras and professional digital SLR cameras is resolution (pro models have 12 to 16 megapixels or more), speed (pro cameras can usually snap off digital pictures at a 5 to 8 pictures-per-second clip; prosumer models may be limited to 3 pictures per second), and ruggedness.
Figure 2-7: Prosumer digital SLR cameras offer interchangeable lenses and other advanced features.
Pro digital cameras still cost $3,000 and up and have both the pedigree and features to match. These high-end models are the equal of their film camera counterparts in every way, and, indeed, some vendors are already phasing out their film camera production. If you canít do it with one of these, it canít be done.
Youíll find 12- to 22-megapixel sensors in these cameras, although the highest-resolution cameras are currently found in the so-called ďmedium formatĒ digital SLR arena, where cameras start out at $10,000! You can fit standard interchangeable lenses to them while retaining all the sophisticated autoexposure and autofocus modes originally introduced in their film camera counterparts. As I mention earlier, one feature pros demand is speed. If you use a pro camera, youíll see just how this speed is applied.
Defining Camera Categories 29
With lesser cameras, there is often a tiny time lag while the autofocus system locks in; with pro cameras, this interval is hard to detect.
With a pro camera, such as the one shown in Figure 2-8, you can usually snap off pictures as quickly as you can press the shutter release, or else trigger the motor drive continuous shot mode. You may be able to snap off 5 to 8 pictures per second for as long as you like, or at least until the storage media fills up. That can be a long time, because pro digital cameras usually accept humon-gous storage options, such as 4GB (or larger) memory cards.
Some pro dSLR cameras (as well as prosumer models) with interchangeable lenses boost the effective magnification of your lenses as well, because the sensors are smaller than the nominal 24-x-36mm 35mm film frame. A 35mm lens or zoom setting has the same field of view as a normal lens on a film camera. A 105mm portrait lens becomes a longer telephoto. However, some of the latest professional cameras have a true 24-x-36mm sensor and can use lenses at their marked focal lengths.
You can read more about the advantages and challenges of using a digital SLR in Book III.
Figure 2-8: Professional digital SLRs have rugged bodies, extremely fast focusing and shooting, and ultra-high resolution.
Basics of Equipment
30 Checking for Key Camera Features
Checking for Key Camera Features
Check out Book II, Chapter 1 for a close look at all the features to consider for your digital camera. In this overview chapter, I provide a list of the key features that you should think about. I discussed resolution earlier because resolution is one of the key ways of categorizing cameras, but Iíve only touched briefly on other features. Hereís a summary of what to look for:
? Resolution: Again, resolution determines how sharp your image will be, how much you can enlarge a photo before the pixels start to become distracting, and how much you can crop a photo and still be left with a decent image that you can enlarge and manipulate.