Is sony Alpha DSLT/DSLR the right platform for learning photography and growth?

Started Oct 21, 2012 | Questions thread
Simelane Forum Member • Posts: 95
Re: Is sony Alpha DSLT/DSLR the right platform for learning photography and growth?

MrCool77 wrote:

Hi all,

I am graduating from the world of P&S (FZ 50) to SLRs and was intrigued by SLT A57s reviews and what i saw at the store. I was looking to order one and dedicatedly learn photography (as a hobby not profession).

Ah! Its great to meet another FZ50 enthusiast... the best bridge camera of its generation! Alas, I too agonised for months over which camera to upgrade to from my trusty P&S; so my journey may be of help to you as you make your own decision.

For a while what I sought was an upgrade to my FZ50. It is such a versatile camera with just the right level of manual photographic control and most of the automatic point and shoot goodies with a great zoom lens on a body that is not too cumbersome to carry around for long periods of time.

The emerging crop of large sensor compact cameras such as the Sony DSC-RX100, Canon G1X, Sigma DP2, Fujifilm X100, etc. all represent the balance of portability, range, control and versatility that we hoped Panasonic would develop the FZ 20/30/50/... line into.

However, by the time I was looking to replace my FZ50, I felt that I had outgrown the genre and was ready to try out a big boys camera... as a hobbyist.

The interchangeable lens range of cameras has exploded into a confusing array of options over the last few years requiring decisions that simply did not exist just 5-odd years ago. The choices before you are not just about which SLR lens mount standard to adopt (which your coach seems to imply is the only choice you have to make) but whether or not an SLR is the right choice for your needs. You would be remiss if you did not consider any of the technological advances that have dominated the interchangeable lens category and may yet supplant current SLR as the photographic standard in the future.

So, my recommendation is to start by assessing and understanding your own photography (and videography) needs... which will be unique to yourself. What works for someone else may not be right for you... and if you have not analysed your own requirements, then you will find yourself buffeted by the bewildering range of options and recommendations presented by others - mostly based on what works for their own needs, not yours.

As I was saying above, your choices are no longer limited to choosing between different DSLR options (which can often boil down to lens range, budget, and some of the things that your coach has already raised). Your choices need to take into account, whether the range of available cameras, lenses and other accessories are purpose designed with your specific needs in mind.

I have a young family, so I was looking for something that would not only take great outdoor photographs (which most cameras will do, these days), but also take great indoor photographs. As anyone with school going kids will know, school sporting activities dominate the photographic criteria, and in my case, I wanted something that would enable me to carry my camcorder less... without sacrificing a lot of the ease and ability to start filming spontaniously that the average camcorder gives. I took the FZ50 to a night time school plays at my eldest son's school and it proved to be an exercise in frustraition as... So the ability to take better photographs (and even some video) in those dimly lit sutuations where one is likely to be confined to their seat or edge of the stage, was important.

I am not going to cover my entire selection criteria, but I am sure you get the picture... At the time that I was making my decision, neither Canon nor Nikon offered a truely decsent option for my needs - yet they had the best cameras for still photography, but neither had something with the range of versitility I required. Given the versatility of most P&S camera's these days, I suspect that both Canon and Nikon are finding that very few families upgrading from a decsent P&S were ready for the limitations (or the steep learning curve required to overcome those limitations) of most DSLR cameras. I certainly was not... I wanted something that had sufficient depth and breadth for me to grow into and improve on over a year or two.

Over time I narrowed my choices to the Panasonic GH2 (or its successor) or the Sony A65/77. The closest Canon I considered was the 60D... and the closests Nikon was the D5100. Given that I had no legacy to take forward or sell off, I approached my decision as unbiased as possible - I really wanted a Canikon option that worked for my needs as anyone even thinking outside of that range of options isn't serious about photography, in my part of the world. The brutal reality is that both Canon and Nikon are really far behind Panasonic, Sony, Olympus, Samsung, and even Fujifilm and Sigma in the development of a range of cameras that take advantage of the latest technological advancements for the enthusuast or budding photographer or videographer. They make great cameras for people who eat live and breath photography.

As you may have guessed, I chose the Sony A77... not because it was vastly superior to the Panasonic GH2... but because I really wanted the improvements rumoured to be queued for the GH3, a few of which were already available in the A77 (the Sony 16-50 lens also went a long way towards helping me make up my mind).

 Simelane's gear list:Simelane's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS10 Sony SLT-A77 Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM
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