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Monday, January 2, 2012

SLR versus SuperZoom Camera or "Why I Use A DSLR".

People ask me why I use a DSLR, especially when I'm constantly complaining about how I'm limited in range and that supertelephotos that range out to the 500 and 600 mm ranges tend to run in the neighbourhood of $8,000 and up. Why is it that I prefer to use a DSLR when I can get a superzoom for less than 1/10th the cost of a super-telephoto?

For one, cost isn't everything. I compared a superzoom that my wife owns - the Nikon Coolpix P80 which has 18X zoom (equivalent to roughly 500mm). Unfortunately, at the 500mm range, the image quality drops of immensely, and because of the small size of sensor you begin to see two things happen, your images start getting pixellated, and your image ends up mired in chromatic aberration and color fringing.

These two images when set side by side don't seem to differ very much

But it's a completely different story when you put 200% zoom on a section of each photo (I'll pick the top left quarter corner just to illustrate.

Nikon Coolpix P80

Nikon D300s with 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII

As you can see by the image crop, that the P80 image degrades significantly as opposed to the D300s CMOS image.

The reason is that the smaller sensor has smaller pixels. And no matter how many you shove onto that small CCD-compact sensor, you will suffer image degradation due to pixels light bleeding onto neighbouring pixels. Chromatic and color aberration, and color fringing is also evident along the edges of the subject in the P80 image.

This is why if you are selling photos for money, a professional calibre DSLR like the D300 series, D700 series, or D3 class camera is the only way to go. If you are doing it for fun, or just to take snapshots, then by all means a Superzoom is the way to go to economically get the range you want.

Me, I'll stick with a DSLR.

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