Friday, 22 August 2008

The Question: The best Image Quality in an entry level DSLR

Four lenses for an Olympus DSLR camera. From l...Image via Wikipedia We often see newbies say "Please recommend the camera with the best IQ (Image Quality)". Invariably, the most common and sensible reply is "All current model DSLRs do a fair job - pick the one you like the most - go to the shop and hold a few and buy the one that feels good"

There are problems with The Question and there are problems with The Reply, even though each party is sincere in their conversation.

Let's deal with The Question in this post:
  1. The DSLR with standard kit lens(es) will give varying levels of satisfaction. On most models, the kit lenses are made to just hit the targeted price level. It's not about photo quality, it's about business. It's like those mini, all-in-one hifi units. The makers can design electronics very well and the account for most of the manufacturing cost. The speakers are chipboard boxes wrapped over cheapboard units. It's nearly the same with the entry level DSLRs - the makers spend money on making a fair body but when it comes to the lenses, they tack on the cheapest units they can. After all these lenses are often not sold separately (i.e. they may not even merit a standalone price). The lenses are just so that the body can be sold.
  2. So, most newbies will say, "OMG, the whole kit already costs more than my Point and Shoot camera and it's still not, like great? You mean, I have to buy some more lenses?" Unfortunately, dear, the answer is "Yes" - Many Olympus entry level DSLR buyers may be exceptions to this case, but in long term, even they would feel the need for a brighter glass indoors.
So, The Question is real wrong.
  1. The best Image Quality in an entry level DSLR package doesn't come from the package or more importantly, the body. The package in general will give you mediocre to reasonable IQ but not great IQ - the lenses may be less than sharp, will often be dark and may not have the range of angles (wide or tele) that you eventually want or are accustomed to from your Point and Shoot Ultrazoom.
  2. If you spend over-much for a class, quality body, you don't have enough money left over for good lens(es).
  3. If you go for broke and make yourself broke by buying the biggest and baddest body and brace of lenses, eh-ah, you've got yourself a bigger problem - you'll be feeling like an idiot as you would be the weakest link in the IQ chain.
Come up with a better and more relevant Question. Please!

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