DSLR - the ultimate camera??

Like many people, my interest in photography has increased dramatically the past few years. For most people, the DSLR represents the pinnacle of photography. It's what the professionals use and few would argue that these cameras produce gorgeous pictures, capture more light than other camera types and allow more control for the "hobbyist." With prices now sub-$1000, the number of people with DSLRs has truly exploded.

I recently had a chance to use a DSLR extensively on a trip and was surprised by my experience. Having started with a cameraphone (that I take everywhere), a point and shoot, and a zoom camera, I assumed a DSLR would be the next logical step. Boy, was I wrong!

The camera that I was able to test was a Canon EOS-10D, one that my fiance obtained several years ago and was released in 2003. While slightly older, this $2000 MSRP camera is still highly rated and representative of the prosumer DSLR-class.

The Canon 10D was paired with an excellent ultra long zoom lens. Pictures were sharp, full of color, and had amazing detail. All in all, the photography experience was top-notch.

The NEGATIVES though really outweighed the positives for me and were all related to convenience. At 1.7 lb, the Canon 10D is a monster of a camera like many DSLRs. The ultra zoom lens added even more weight and when attached made it a chore to walk among crowds of people. Even packing the Canon 10D was a chore...it required a bulky case with extra padding given the fragile lens and had to be unpacked at the airport. Overall, I thought it was a convenience "nightmare" and found myself hating having to carry it and walk so awkwardly.

I contrast this with my current camera of choice: the Panasonic Lumix FZ-28. I've had two model variations of this ultra-zoom and have grown to LOVE it. The size (less than half the weight of the Canon 10D), the zoom, and the controls rival that of any DSLR. While the pictures are not quite as good, for many photos, they're quite excellent and I believe the trade-off is acceptable.

Look how tiny that camera is! I can pack the Panasonic in my luggage, throw some clothes over it, and easily throw it over my shoulder. The zoom lens is incredible as well, essentially equivalent to a 27-486mm zoom. It actually zoomed farther than the Canon's impressive lens!
Other nice features include a strong flash and excellent video mode. Price is another plus as ultra zooms are easily 1/3 the price of a DSLR.

So there's my two cents. While I love DSLR photos, I'll let others lug those cameras around. I'm sticking with my Panasonic...it's my ultimate camera choice. I'll take photos AND enjoy my trip, dinner, or wherever I've brought my camera along.

P.S. A footnote in this discussion is the Micro 4/3 standards and the cameras being released now. The Panasonic GF1 promises half the size and true DSLR quality. Definitely one to keep an eye on: http://www.hardwarezone.com/articles/view.php?cid=15&id=3007


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