New Digital SLR… Which One?

Isn’t it cool how in the space of a couple of days you can drastically change your requirements, and convince yourself you need something new and bigger? πŸ™‚

Here’s what happened…

I’ve got this review for the wsg coming up soon and I want good photos. Currently I’ve got an old, Pentax Optio s5i, with the casing selotaped together – I’ve lost the tiny little screws. Outside in good light it takes an ok picture, but that’s it, ok. I doesn’t do a good job of people, for example. Give it a slight challange with the lighting conditions and it sucks.

Some of my friends have got similar cameras, in terms of size and price, but newer. And they’re better. Not like a major leap, but good enough to make me think about replacing my camera. I want good photos. So I started to look around.

My new camera?

Before long, I came across a group of compact cameras targeted at the enthusiast, like the Canon PowerShot G10 and the Panasonic Lumix LX3. These cameras were attractive for a few reasons. Mainly, they’re gonna give me better photos than the camera I’ve got now. They offer more manual control, if you want it, which should help you to get the photo you want. They’re still fairly small, especially the Panasonic, so I wouldn’t need a backpack. They’re within budget. I think they look pretty cool πŸ™‚

But I started thinking about it some more. And I asked friends who know a lot more about this stuff than I do (you know who you are, thanks!). And I re-assessed my criteria.

  • I want good pictures, that’s most important. Not every picture I take needs to be great (I’ll still have my old camera), but I want the option to get a better shot
  • I want to be able to take pictures in burst mode
  • I want fast response to shoot snowboarders, perhaps close up, with good results*

* especially in the UK… I’ll talk more about that requirement at some point in the future…

Yes, these higher-end compacts will take a good photo, but if I’m trading off ultimate quality for camera size, and therefore mobility on the mountain, I’m probably just pointing and clicking. I think perhaps, there are other, cheaper, more basic compacts that will do just as well in this role.

But the clincher is this: these higher-end compacts won’t get me near to the results of an SLR. So for those times that I do want to take the time/effort/size and mobility hit, I’ll get better photos with an SLR. That’s obvious, right? πŸ˜‰

So I’ve decided to go for an entry level SLR. Besides, it’s my birthday soon and I’m thinking a little self-present will go down well. But which one?

My gut instinct is the Nikon, I don’t know why, it just is. I think the Canon is the most expensive, whilst the Sony is temptingly cheap. I guess I like the flexibility of an SLR. It’s not a huge investment if I don’t do much with it. But if I want to, I can add extra capabilities with different lenses. It’s exciting.

I’m gonna need a couple of extras; some kind of case in the least. I’ll probably get the smallest case I can find, to make it comfortable in my back pack. But I hear that Lowepro do a range of SlingShot bags that are worth a look.

Obviously I want to get this sorted before I go away, and it would be nice to have at least a couple of days to play around with it…


  • Reply April 10, 2010

    Gavin Hope

    Hey Allie,I ended up ordering the d60 πŸ™‚ I looked around at a lot of different stuff, but in the end I think I just wanted the Nikon. The d80 is unfortunately out of my range…I’m interested to see how much i use it while away.thanks again!

  • Reply April 13, 2010


    Definitely try them out at the shop and take some pictures with each to see which one you like better in terms of button placement and such.This won’t matter too much if you leave the camera in full auto all the time but if you plan to shoot in manual mode the button placement becomes key. It’s time consuming to fumble through menus to change settings and most SLRs have the main functions mapped to buttons. But some manufactures have a more natural feeling button layout than others, but it is all down to personal preference.Also keep in mind that the main benefit of an SLR, besides the sensor size and response time, is the much better lenses that are available for them. The ‘kit’ lens that comes in the box with the D60 is quite decent, it has image stabilization for instance, but there are much better lenses to be had.I’ve had a D70s, which despite the model number is actually an older model than the D60, for almost three years now and I really enjoy it. I haven’t used it for snowboard photography yet but I hope to at some point in the future.I had a Slingshot 200 when I first got my D70s. But I ended up selling it in favour of a regular shoulder bag. I didn’t find that I was actually using the slingshot function all that often and it kept slipping off of my one shoulder. They aren’t small bags either so you’d probably have a hard time putting one into another backpack.You might want to checkout the podcasts and forums over at < HREF="" REL="nofollow">Tack Sharp<> they have some good information for beginners. The first couple of episodes especially.Also watch out, once you get a DSLR you will start getting cravings for accessories. More lenses, tripods, flashes, lens filters etc. etc. πŸ™‚

  • Reply April 13, 2010

    Gavin Hope

    Yeah, I think you’re right about being satisfied with either. I’m really tempted to just order it now… but I’m gonna check them out at the weekend, and hit a few shops to get a better idea of case size.Cheers

  • Reply April 13, 2010


    I have a 3 year old Canon Rebel XT and I love it. While its definitely not top of the line, it’s my first DSLR and works great for the price. I think you will be satisfied with either the Canon or the Nikon. The models you listed are both very similar and they both have a wide range of additional lenses available.

  • Reply April 13, 2010

    Gavin Hope

    Hey Sam,as it happens, a friend has a sony a100 and my dad has the canon, so I’m gonna play with both of them sometime over this weekend. So i just need to get to a shop and look at the nikon… although given that I’ve got no history with slrs, I’ll probably just <>learn<> which ever one I go for – as far as controls and usability go.I’ll definitely check out those podcasts!Bags/cases… I’m pretty certain I’ll go for a stand alone bag, something I can put in my Dakine back pack. I upgraded my heli pack to the larger Dakine Pro II, so that’s probably got enough room to hold the case.If I need something more camera oriented in the future, I’ll probably end up going for a snowboard specific one… a mate had one of the burton packs and that was pretty tight!Accessories… yeah, it’s dangerous, but that’s also part of the fun, right? πŸ™‚

  • Reply April 13, 2010


    The answer is obvious.. the Nikon entry level DSLR πŸ™‚ D60 is good, D80 is better if you can afford it..It’s a slippery slope though… we’ve had some conversations and you know what I think about lugging it around on the mountain πŸ™‚Again, a good bag is key. I highly recommend the LowePro slingshot if you’re starting with that. Once you get more lenses the Burton camera backpack I reviewed on my blog is the way to go πŸ™‚Good luck! I’m REAAAALLY excited to see what you get Gavin πŸ™‚

  • Reply April 13, 2010


    Yeah I saw one of the Burton camera specific bags somewhere. It looked pretty cool, a camera bag with straps to hold a snowboard πŸ™‚

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