Today I was checking out the DSLR camera I’m buying next month to see if the price had dropped. Which really was only an excuse to look over the specs for the zillionth time. In case you are curious its the Pentax K10D 10.2 megapixel DSLR.
A SLR (Single-lens reflex) camera means there is a mirror or glass bouncing the light so when you look through the viewfinder you see exactly what the lens does. There is no parallex error from having the viewfinder near the lense instead. One of the many benefits is that you can confirm the focus by eye. Which is why all manual cameras are SLRs. While many digital cameras use the LCD screen as the viewfinder, I find that it’s not as accurate and it just doesn’t give the same feel as having the camera itself up to your eye.
Benefits of DSLR vs most fixed-lens compact digital cameras:
1. Manual white balance. Light gives off different temperatures (degrees kelvin) which changes the colour of the light. Most cheaper cameras are daylight balanced so indoor shots will look more orange. With film cameras using daylight balanced film, you’d put gels on the lights or a filter on the lens. With digital cameras, you do what is called white balance. Most compact cameras will have different presets and auto white balance functions but many times these are less then accurate. With the ability to manually set the white balance in each lighting situation, everything will come out just the way that I want it.
2. Aperture settings. The aperture is the hole that the light goes through. Having a wide range of settings, you have the ability to take shots in low light without a flash. This also effects the depth of field – the amount of focus in front of and behind what you are shooting. The smaller the aperture diameter, the larger the depth of field. Being able to manually change the setting you have control over what is and what is not if focus.
3. Shutter speed. Determines the amount of time the film or digital sensor is exposed to light. The ability to have a long shutter speed allows for nighttime shots without a flash. Having a faster shutter speed, records motion without the blur.
4. Manual focus or more points of focus. With my point and shoot camera, not only can I really not have a shot with the subject in focus but the background blurry (or at least control it) but I can’t have them off center and still be the focal point. What I used to do with my old SLR film camera was to focus on the subject’s face then move the camera to the side so they are off center. If I moved correctly, they would be in perfect focus with a better composition. With something like the K10D’s 11 points of focus, I can choose which one(s) to use for each picture.
5. Lenses. There is so much variety in the types you can get. Wide angle, fish eye, zoom, telephoto, wide zoom, etc all with many different lengths and aperture ranges. I must say that while these can get very pricy, the optics are far superior. Not to mention all the filters you can screw on!
I used to be a professional photographer. It all started with my a photography class in my first semester in High School, well.. actually it probably started with my first point and shoot camera my Grandmother gave me when I was 10 – I sure did love that thing. Anyways, I received my first SLR on my 15th b-day a Pentax K1000. I took that bloody thing with me everywhere. I had massed quite a collection of K-mount lenses, filters, and anything I could get my hands on.
During HS I spent every class I could in the darkroom with my final year doing independent study for photography (set up the darkroom every morning and then goof off) and photography editor of both the yearbook and newspaper. I was also hiring myself out to other students for things like modeling portfolios and bands, oddly enough I got offered more jobs then I could take. So, I was always on the go with my Pentax going to all sorts of sporting events, gigs, etc. I was supposed to cover the dances, but my failed attempt at actually making it inside for the first one made me assign them to someone else.
As any budding photographer will tell you, the ultimate dream really is to own a Nikon. It’s some sort of cultish standard that Nikons are the only true professional camera. But my Pentax was serving me well. How many times had it dropped because of the moshpit got to close when shooting some gig? Eventually I did get professional jobs, all of which supplied the cameras – mostly Nikons.
Years ago, my beloved Pentax stopped working. I had let someone borrow it thinking it’d never break, but when I got it back the light meter was off. At the time, I was still in film school so my funds were a bit on the tight side and getting it repaired just never became a priority. Prior to moving to London, I bought myself a tiny point and shoot Minolta 2 megapixel camera.
If Nikon is supposed to be the best professional DSLR, why am I going for a Pentax? Part of it is brand loyalty another part is that the K10D is a fantastic camera that I can afford. From what I’ve read here are some of the specs:
1. I can use any lens ever made for a pentax. So the box of them that’s collecting dust can be dug out, finally. I’ve read that the new Nikons aren’t working with the old lenses, but it’s not like I have any.
2. Image stabilization in camera. Most DSLRs have the IS only in certain lenses and not the body and so they are even more expensive. Not to mention that most camera’s IS is on the x and y axis while Pentax includes the z axis.
3. 11-point auto focus sensor which has nine points (in the center) that are sensitive to both horizontal and vertical detail. Then you are able to choose different points.
4. Two different RAW formats, including the DNG format for photoshop. No need to convert.
5. RAW switch button to be programed per shot or until you turn it off. The purpose to switch easily between jpg and Raw formats.
6. 72 seals around the body to make it dust proof and waterproof. Perfect for how much it rains here.
7. Continuous shooting at 3fps.
8. Exposure modes like aperture priority where you set the aperture and it calculates shutter.
9. Multi-segment exposure metering – 16 different zones across the frame are measured and compensated for. You can even link it to the auto focus point.
10. Day-by-day folders to simplify the arrangement and search of recorded images.
In preparation for this new camera, I bought a printer – the HP Photojet D7160. It has it’s own tray for 4×6 photo paper, does lab quality prints, prints directly from the memory card, and best part of all the 6 colours of ink are separate!