Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How to choose your first DLSR?

Question: What is the the most embarrassing moment in your life?

Answer: Watching yourself talk on the TV!

Well, you may ask “How is this question and the answer is relevant and how is it related to the blog subject?”

Answer to that is – It is not relevant and it is not related to the blog subject :-)

Remember I told you guys in my last blog that I did an exhibition on 10th of October 09? Well, I forgot to mention a minor detail. It so happens that, in that exhibition a local TV crew were roaming about interviewing people. I did not notice them until they came to my stall and then came the most stressful moment for me. I was asked to say a few things about my art, in front of camera and with a mike in my hand! Well, I did say (or blurted out rather) something.

I had completely forgotten what I said and about that unfortunate incident until, that is, I happen to see the recording aired on the local TV station today (28th Oct 09)! Oh Man! That was the most embarrassing moment of my life - listening to myself talking in front of a camera with a mike in my hand!

Such, my dear folks, is life – sooner or later everything comes back to you!! :-)

Well, enough of nonsense -  now for some serious stuff.

How to choose DLSR if you are the first time buyer?.

3 things most important while choosing a DSLR for the first time are.

  1. Format i.e. 4/3rd (Olympus, Panasonic etc) or APS-C (Canon, Nikon)
  2. Brand
  3. Budget and Specs


A format in DSLR world is nothing but the size of the image sensor. Image Sensor is the Film of the DSLR or any digital camera and is the eye of the camera. There are number of Formats. Following figure illustrates the various formats available.

Image Source- Wikipedia

File:Sensor sizes overlaid inside.svg

In DLSR the most popular formats are the Four Thirds and the APS-C. Once you select the format you will be married to it. Because all your lenses and accessories will be of that format. So once you choose a format, you will find it extremely expensive to switch to another format. So this will be your most important decision. All decisions from here on will be based on this one particular choice. I chose to go the four thirds way. Now whether that is a good choice or not I do not know. The reason why I chose 4/3rds format is for following reasons.

  • Its an Open format, it is not proprietary like APS-C (both Nikon and Canons are APS-C, however Nikon and Canon lenses cannot be interchanged, because  as see in the above image, they implement APS format in their own respective standards so their image sensor sizes are different and hence lenses are different). This mean I can buy lenses from any manufacturer as long as it says 4/3rds without worrying about anything.
  • Secondly, its a format which closely resembles the aspect ratio of the physical photograph standard. So the there is lot less cropping.
  • Thirdly, the High Grade Pro Lenses are lot less expensive than the APS-C counterparts.

So choose the format carefully. Do research on the net. Read blogs and visit discussion forums. And once you have made up your mind, keep in mind that you will find it very expensive to change it.


Brand decision will be born out of format decision. If you select 4/3rds then you will have to go with Olympus or Panasonic (micro four thirds (MFT) a variant of four thirds but all four thirds lenses will fit on MFT with an adapter).

If you select APS-C then Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc.

Again – Once you select the brand you will be married to it. You will find it cost prohibitive to change brands, especially if its APS-C brands. With 4/3rds or MFT you can at least switch between 2 brands dealing in 4/3rds lenses and bodies. I chose Olympus for the in-body image stabilization. Which I think is great!


These 2 are directly related. More budget you have better DLSR body you can buy. But if you are a beginner what should be your budget?

IMHO (in my humble opinion) you should budget at least $700 to $800 (US dollars) for a decent body and at least 18-55mm and 70-300mm lenses (lens config may be different in different brands). Idea is that you should budget for DSLR body, and at 2 lenses – 1 wide angle zoom and one telephoto zoom. If you have more budget then you can invest in a good external flash.

Based on this you can research which spec of DLSR body fits your budget.

So the bottom Line is

  • Research on the format
  • Research on the Brand – Most important criteria is abundant availability of lenses and accessories  in your country.
  • Choose the DSLR Body spec according to your budget with at least 2 lenses
  • Order of the choices should be as above – don't for example fix a budget and then go hunting for the DSLR. Because brand that you choose will decide the budget. You can fix a range on budget though, say from $600 to $800, something like that.
  • Do not be overwhelmed by the information.
  • Read both pros and cons on format and brands
  • You first DLSR will not be and need not be a pro or even advanced armature. You need to understand the basic DSLR beast before you can graduate to higher end models.  You should not buy a higher end model unless you are convinced that you have out grown your current model.
  • Most importantly – You should know basic photographic techniques and photography basics, including but restricted to fundamental knowledge on – composition, aperture, shutter, manual control, exposure, white balance etc

I may do an edit on this post to add more – Keep watching!

In the meantime – Enjoy the Fall Colors



Saturday, October 10, 2009

Coming back – What was I doing?

Some of you may be wondering what the heck have I been doing. Why has this guy stopped disturbing us with his weekly mails?
Reasons are as follows
  • I entered into 2 competitions (I have already communicated about one to you). I had to do some preparation for those. I will tell you about these in a moment.
  • I then had to prepare for my exhibition at Barron Arts Fest. That exhibition was held today (10th Oct 2009) and I will tell you what I sold.
  • After coming back from vacations in early September, I had around 1000 pics to process. And this is what took away most of my time. I have already posted the Eastern Point and Mystic Seaport pictures. I will post Cape Cod pictures soon, I promise.
Many people ask – What do I mean by processing the pictures? Aren’t my pictures digital? So isn’t it already processed and I have the JPEGs ready to share straight from the camera?
Well folks, contrary to common assumption, some of you may be surprised to learn that none of the pictures that you see in any good site or magazine is straight from the camera. Almost all pictures need some form of processing (called post processing) in an image editor (such as Photoshop, Photomatix etc) in order to make it appealing or “presentable”. Some of the adjustment photographers do in post processing are;
  1. White Balance – To get the proper color temperature for the image i.e to either warm or cool an image
  2. Tone – To adjust color tones
  3. Exposure – some times when looking into the LCD of you camera, you may not notice if the image is under or over exposed a bit. Photographers need to correct these if there is any issue with the exposure
  4. Vibrancy and Saturation – To remove the dullness in color.
  5. Fill light – To highlight dark areas
  6. Contrast – To adjust the contrast between various colors in the image
  7. Sharpness – To soften or sharpen an image or part of it
  8. Noise – To reduce or increase noise in an image
This is not a complete list of post processing adjustments, however these are some of the crucial adjustments. In order to gain as much control over each of these adjustments as possible, seasoned photographers generally shoot their images in RAW format. This helps them in having better control over all the above adjustments and more, during post processing.
Post processing is a very time consuming job. And it requires a lot of patience.
Now coming to my competitions
The first competition was held at the New Brunswick Library in collaboration with Alfa Art Gallery. Photographers were required to submit 3 of their best pictures which were shot in New Brunswick. I submitted 3 of mine, but I forgot to read the crucial condition – photographs must be taken in New Brunswick! And none of my 3 photographs were shot in New Brunswick!
However I was not the only one who made the mistake. The judges selected 2 of my photographs to be in top 3!! But at the last moment had to give me just honorary mention for those 2 photographs because I failed to meet that criteria.
These are the 2 pics which one the honorary mention (I got a certificate for these - cool!)
Honorary mention #1

Honorary mention #2

The second competition was held in the Woodbridge town hall. The theme was similar. We were asked to provide 3 photographs taken in Woodbridge. This time I did not make any mistakes. I submitted the best 3 pics I had of Woodbridge. The following picture won the 3rd prize in the competition!
This was taken in the Woodbridge farmer’s market!
Now coming to Barron Arts Fest Exhibition. Well, I have been preparing for this for almost 4 weeks. The exhibition was on 10 Oct 09 between 10 AM to 4PM. But on the day of the exhibition, we had slight drizzle until 12PM :-( which meant people did not turn up until 1PM.  Even then there were only a handful and many were just mid-day strollers! So a not so satisfying exhibition. I did manage to sell 5 photos and 2 calendars for about $120 , but I was not completely satisfied with the response to the exhibition itself.

BLOG UPDATE***: Pictures from Award Ceremony @ Alpha Art Gallery

Photographer & Copyright owner: Jim Roselli

Both my pictures on display @ Alpha Art Gallery
Suni and I listening to the Award presentation ceremony
One of my pictures being shown during the presentation ceremony (Presenter and coordinator: Ms. Kavita Pandey)
Receiving certificate for Award#1 :-)
Award #2 :-)
Signing the guest book.