Being in the privileged position of having just about every major new camera thrust into my hands at some point or another throughout the year, I’m often asked which model to buy. Or, more accurately, which digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) to buy.
Add that to the fact that a number of digital cameras purchased in the earlier part of the last decade are either beginning to look dated or developing faults, and the results are a high percentage of consumers enticed by the promise of better quality images without the need to learn about apertures and the like.
My father is a good example. A photographer of some 40+ years, with a fair few film SLRs to his name, the appearance of DSLRs rekindled something of an interest in him. Enough to bother me on a monthly basis for advice and discounts at least. Whenever I ask why he might want such a camera, he simply replies: “to take better photos”.
My previous standpoint used to be discouraging him immediately from spending upwards of £500 on a camera he would barely use and, worse still, wouldn’t need to use fully due to the Auto modes. It seemed like an alien concept to me for someone to purchase a camera and not plumb the very depth of the menu system and manual modes to see how well it performs and whether it meets expectations.
After fielding questions from readers of my magazine, friends and relatives, I’ve realized that the majority of people simply want the facility to take a better image, regardless of how it’s done. If they chose to leave the camera in Auto, the image will be perfectly acceptable and, more often than not, better than that of their compact. With the manual modes at their fingertips, perhaps they’ll venture across the mode dial and see what altering the shutter speed will do, or they’ll try a few menu options to see how the image is affected.
Better still, these new cameras will fall into the hands of the next generation of photographers, and instil a hobby and passion into a child that will give them enjoyment in later years. Regardless of how the technology will move on, a decent image can still be taken with an old camera, and passing it on to a son or daughter will give them the facility to embrace a new method of showing the world through their eyes.
After all, my father’s barely-working Yashica manual control 35mm SLR gave me the building blocks for a career, a hobby and a passion that will last me many years to come. So by all means, buy a DSLR. You might just be sending someone on a photographic journey neither of you expected.