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Entry 291, on 2006-02-27 at 15:25:27 (Rating 1, Computers)

I have been interested in photography for many years now and have owned various good quality SLR film cameras. But since I converted to digital photography (first partly in the early days, and then totally when digital quality improved) I used compact cameras instead. This was mainly because digital SLRs were so expensive, but I also liked the compact size and extra functions of non-SLRs.

It had become more obvious to me recently though, that now was the time to convert to a digital SLR. I previously used a Canon PowerShot G6 compact digital camera, which was one of the best available, but it still had deficiencies. So I ordered a Canon EOS 350D, Canon's latest low-cost digital SLR and have now used it for a few days. I had some lenses and other accessories from my Canon film camera which can also be used on the EOS 350D, so I now have a complete photographic setup again.

My wife did a triathlon this weekend, so this was a perfect chance to take some photos of the event. Sports photography can be quite tricky because the subject is often at a distance and moving quickly (at least they are supposed to be!)

I'm pleased to say the camera performed beautifully. I used a Canon 75-300 f/4-5.6 zoom lens, mostly at its extreme zoom range, for most of the photos. After converting for the 1.6 ratio because of the smaller sensor on the digital this works out at almost 500 mm focal length - quite challenging for hand-held action shots!

The big difference with the new camera is its great responsiveness. Everything happens so quickly and smoothly. From the 0.2 second start up time to the fast focus and shutter speed, its just a totally different experience from using a compact camera (this includes the all compact cameras I have used, from many manufacturers). Another advantage is the interchangeable lenses, of course. I have an 18-55, 35-80, and 75-300, so I can cover a huge range without sacrificing image quality too much (although the bundled lens with the EOS isn't the best I have ever used, its better than that on any compact camera).

There are a few disadvantages as well. First there is the price, which is significantly more than even the most expensive compact camera. Then there is the size. By SLR standards the 350D isn't big, but its bigger than all the compact cameras I have used. Another problem with SLRs, for me, is the requirement to always use the viewfinder, instead of composing the shot using the LCD screen. Finally there is the lack of movie mode which practically all compact cameras have.

But the SLR is there for one thing - taking great photos. And it does it very well. I also have a cheap compact camera which I take everywhere. It is small, does movies, and doesn't have a view finder. But if I want to take a photo I use the 350D every time!

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Comment 1 (183) by OJB on 2006-03-04 at 23:37:37:

Update: I have now used the Canon EOS 350D for some photos of a swimming competition. These are always difficult: the subjects are a reasonable distance away, the atmosphere is wet and misty, the swimmers are moving.

Despite this I got some great close-up shots. For example just the face of the swimmer while racing, and action shots of the swimmer diving into the water just as his hand touched the surface.

These would be very difficult on a lesser camera. The Canon managed them really well. I'm wondering why I didn't get a real dSLR and forget about the compact cameras years ago!

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