Everything You Need to Know to Buy Your First DSLR

Maximum PC Staff

Tired of missing those action shots? Are blurry indoor photos getting you down? A DSLR might be just the cure for your point-and-shoot blues

Phones with cameras are ubiquitous, and point-and-shoot cameras have become practically throwaway purchases. It’s the golden age of citizen photography, but as you become more serious about your images, pocketable cameras become more frustrating, and you run into the limits of physics. The tiny sensors and low-speed lenses in camera phones and point-and-shoots can’t do justice to fast-action or low-light photography. Sometimes when you need that really long shot of, say, a hawk soaring above the trees, the wide-angle lens common to compact cameras reduces the graceful lines of the regal bird to a tiny dot.

Enter digital SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras, which take your photography to the next level. “SLR” simply means that a mirror or prism sits in front of the sensor and directs light to an optical viewfinder, allowing you to monitor the scene as the lens sees it.

A DSLR offers a larger sensor than you’ll find in a point-and-shoot camera, and this allows it to capture more light. The larger sensor also offers greater dynamic range, which often translates to better shadow detail in photos with mixed lighting. A DSLR also gives you fine-grain control over all your picture settings—aperture, shutter speed, focus, ISO settings, and more.

Interchangeable lenses are another big selling point. For normal use, you can use a lightweight zoom that’s suitable for general photography. For long shots, add a superzoom or long telephoto. The combination of bigger sensors, infinitely flexible settings, and robust lens choices allows you to capture phenomenal action, shoot in dimly lit conditions, or sometimes both.

The two leading manufacturers of DSLRs are Canon and Nikon, which together own nearly three-quarters of the market. In the following pages, we'll help you determine which DSLR features are right for you and review some of the interesting models.

Before You Buy

ASK YOURSELF: WHAT KIND OF PHOTOGRAPHER AM I?

How you plan to use your DSLR camera will inform your purchase and help you parse the myriad camera specs thrown at you by DSLR makers.

SENSOR SIZE
DSLR sensors come in two general sizes: Advanced Photo System type-C (APS-C) and full frame. “Full frame” refers to a sensor roughly the same size as a 35mm film frame. Most APS-C sensors offer crop factors of roughly 1.5–1.6x of that. Generally, a full-frame sensor offers better low-light performance, while an APS sensor offers better reach. A 50mm lens on an APS-C sensor camera is equivalent to a 75mm lens on a full‑frame sensor. So if you’re shooting long—say, football fields or wildlife—a 300mm lens will give you an equivalent 450mm reach. The crop factor also has an effect on depth of field: Full-frame sensors yield shallower depth of field, which often makes them desirable for portrait photography. Crop sensors are good for landscapes, providing not only more reach but deeper DOF.

MEGAPIXELS
This is the number of effective pixels in a sensor. Modern DSLRs typically have 12MP or more. More pixels do not always mean better photos. Very high pixel densities sometimes cause less sharpness when your lens is stopped way down to f/16 or higher (smaller aperture). Macro photographers often want extreme depth of field and need to stop down—but not if they lose effective sharpness. Given the relatively high megapixel counts of modern DSLRs, this is one spec that’s increasingly irrelevant—18 megapixels isn’t better than 14.

FRAME RATE
DSLRs offer continuous shooting modes, which is a boon for shooting action photography. At a minimum, you’ll want to be able to shoot at 4 frames per second. At 6fps, you miss less of the action in fast-moving sports.

BUFFER SIZE
The buffer is a temporary fast memory cache used to hold photos while they’re written to much slower flash memory cards. You’ll want a big buffer if you’re shooting at high frame rates. It’s frustrating to miss critical action waiting for the buffer to flush to a memory card, which happens with even very fast memory cards.

AUTOFOCUS POINTS
Most users tend to focus in the center of the viewfinder; it feels natural. A good DSLR will have multiple focus points, letting you focus to one side, or above or below the center. That’s very handy if you want to draw attention to a part of the photo to one side.

SCENE MODES
It’s tough to let go of some handholding, so most consumer and prosumer DSLRs have some automation of modes, like portrait, landscape, night, etc. The more capable DSLRs allow you to create custom settings based on your preferences, which is often better than an automated mode.

ISO SETTINGS
ISO numbers refer to the light sensitivity of the sensor. All digital camera sensors have an optimal ISO that captures the scene with minimal noise. Increasing the ISO number allows you to shoot in lower‑light conditions, but you’ll see more digital noise in the photo. Auto ISO, long a staple of point-and-shoot cameras, is now common in DSLRs, as they let the camera pick the optimal ISO setting for the combination of shutter speed and aperture setting.

VIDEO
Most current-generation DSLRs can shoot video. The variation of video capabilities is wide, however, with some cameras capable of shooting up to 1080p/30fps while others can only manage 720p. When using a DSLR for video, you gain access to a wide array of lenses, but you also lose some features, like the fast autofocus capability used when shooting still images.

MEMORY CARDS
All the cameras we tested use SD cards (including SDHC and SDXC) for storing photos. The Nikon D7000 actually supports twin SD card slots. Pro DSLRs often use CompactFlash, which generally offers higher capacities and faster writes than SD cards, but the latest SDXC cards use UHS controllers capable of 104MB/s write speeds. The camera body needs to support UHS speeds to take advantage of the full performance of these newer cards, however.

LIVE VIEW
One of the DSLR's strengths is its abilty to shoot through the optical viewfinder, but the new generation of DSLRs can also use an LCD display on the back to show the scene. This is often the mode used to shoot video. Some DSLRs offer articulated LCD screens, which allow for more flexible shooting angles.

FLASH
Cameras in the class we tested all have built-in flash. They go a step beyond the pop-up flash built into many point-and-shoot cameras, though, allowing the camera to control multiple remote external flashes with the built-in flash. This allows for incredible flexibility in lighting.

Putting a DSLR to the Test

Testing the performance of a DSLR can be a complex process, but we distilled our testing down to a few key parameters. We wanted to check out image quality at high-ISO settings and continuous-mode shooting performance as objectively as possible. Autofocus performance was a tougher nut, since modern DSLRs tend to offer pretty fast autofocus under normal lighting. So we settled for subjectively testing AF “hunting” in a low-contrast environment, which is probably the biggest challenge for most autofocus schemes.

High-ISO testing was conducted with roughly equivalent, higher-quality lenses. For Nikon, we used the new Nikkor AF-S 24-120mm f/4G VR. For Canon, the test lens was the EF 24-105mm f/4 IS USM. The cameras were set to aperture priority mode and f/5.6, with the shutter speed allowed to vary. The room was moderately lit with old-style fluorescent tubes, which also gave us a chance to check out the effectiveness of the auto white-balance.

The scene used in high-ISO testing consisted of a number of colorful objects on a white background. We then cropped an 800x800 pixel region that contains a sample of most of the objects used and looked at noise levels at ISO 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, and 12800. We made sure to disable both noise reduction and sharpening in Photoshop’s Camera Raw tool when we imported the images to Photoshop.

Continuous-mode testing was performed with a cleanly formatted, SanDisk Extreme SDXC card with a rated throughput of 45MB/s. The cameras were set to manual, 1/250 of a second, f/4, at the maximum continuous mode of the SLR.

We discuss the results of continuous-mode shooting in the individual reviews, but all these cameras have limited buffer sizes, particularly if you’re shooting in raw mode. Getting a faster SD card helps, but only to a limited extent.


Our high ISO test shots consist of an 800x800-pixel section of a larger image. While it's hard to discern differences in thumbnails, in Photoshop, variations in image noise are apparent.

Nikon D3100

BIG ON FEATURES, LOW ON COST

The D3100 is a welcome update to earlier entry-level DSLRs from Nikon, which offered aging sensor technology and limited feature sets. The D3100 sports a 14.1MP CMOS APS-C sensor with very good low-light capabilities for a camera in its class.

At a shade over a pound for the body, it’s also the lightest of the DSLRs in our roundup. The light weight and compact size make it easy to throw in a backpack or large purse. The 18–55mm kit lens adds another 12 ounces. The kit lens offers limited speed and isn’t the sharpest lens we’ve tested, but at appropriate f/stop and lighting conditions, it gets the job done.


Minimalist controls and a nonarticulating LCD clearly mark this as an entry-level DSLR.

Due to its relatively light weight and small size, the D3100 feels a little unbalanced in the hand. Anyone graduating from a point-and-shoot camera might want to avoid trying to grab the left side, as there’s little to grab. Attaching any lens larger than the kit lens tends to tilt the balance toward the lens.

The user interface is classic Nikon. It’s easy to rotate the command dial while simultaneously depressing the shutter button. The menu structure is a little daunting, however, with many lists scrolling down below the screen bottom, although there is a scroll bar that informs you where you are in the menu.

The pop‑up flash is useful for fill and occasional use. The camera can’t be used to command Nikon’s remote CLS flash units without having an external CLS-capable flash attached.

Continuous shooting is limited to 3fps, and the buffer fills at 12 shots in raw mode. It takes about seven seconds for the buffer to empty. Noise levels are pretty minimal up through ISO 1600. At ISO 3200 and 6400, luminance noise is visible, and when you push to H mode (ISO 12800), luminance noise kills a lot of detail. However, chroma (color) noise is noticeably absent. Auto white-balance was sometimes fooled by fluorescent lighting flicker at a range of shutter speeds, giving images a yellowish cast.


The D3100 is a no-frills DSLR with a good user interface, but it feels slightly unbalanced in y our hand.

HD movie modes max out at 1080p/24fps; 1080/30 isn’t supported, nor is 720/60. Other supported video modes include 720/30, 720/24, and 640/24. The D3100 uses contrast focus when capturing video, so don’t expect fast autofocus performance when shooting video. We shot some video at 1080/24 using maximum quality settings and got a bit rate of about 20Mb/s. Quality looked fairly good in daylight.

Overall, the D3100 is a fine entry-level DSLR but is marred a little by awkward body balance. Like earlier entry-level Nikon DSLRs, some older lenses that lack built-in motors won’t work with the camera. The unit feels plasticky in hand, and you should be careful in wet weather, as it’s not well-sealed. Video settings are limited, but this camera is a good foray into the DSLR world.

Nikon D3100
$600 (online) w/18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR

Nikon.com
Specifications
Sensor 14.1 MP CMOS Nikon DX (APS-C)
Maximum Photo Size
4608x3072
Autofocus 11-point, dynamic with 3D tracking
File Format
NEF (raw), JPEG
Storage
1 SD slot, SDXC capable
Viewfinder Pentamirror (95 percent coverage)
Shutter-Speed Range
1/4000-30 sec
Flash Sync
1/200
Maximum Continuous Shooting Speed 3fps
Scene Modes 6 (child, close-up, landscape, night portrait, portrait, sports)
Maximum ISO 3200 (can push to 6400 and 12800)
Shots with Battery Charge 550

Canon EOS Rebel T3i

RICH IN FEATURES AND NO SLOUCH IN PERFORMANCE

Canon’s latest Rebel T3i offers a robust feature set, a staggering 18MP APS-C sensor, good control over your photography, and an impressive array of movie modes.

At just a little more than 18 ounces, the T3i feels very good in your hand. The body design is balanced and textured rubber coats both front and back. If you attach a lens larger than the 18–55mm kit lens, the balance does tilt forward, but the body still feels natural while using it.


The back of the Rebel T3i is cluttered with small icons, but the articulating LCD is neat.

Autofocus seems a touch slower than on the Nikon D3100 in dimly lit conditions, but overall focus speed is good in most lighting. Auto white-balance works well, even in flickering fluorescent light, until you start pushing to higher ISOs and shutter speeds, where that familiar yellowish cast will occasionally creep in. Fluorescent lights are often a problem with auto white-balance schemes, but Canon seems to handle it a bit better than most. There’s also a nifty “intelligent auto” that sets most of the exposure but lets you play around a bit with depth of field and also control the flash.

At its maximum shooting speed of 3.7fps in raw image mode, the buffer filled after six shots and took about seven seconds to empty. That’s about average for a unit of this class, but you will want to manage your continuous shooting carefully or risk losing some of the action.

Video settings are very flexible and include both 1080/30 and 720/60 HD modes, plus a plethora of others. At 1080/30, the T3i generates large files with high bit rates—in excess of 40Mb/s—which is a testament to the video capture abilities of the unit.

Where the T3i falls down a bit is in the user interface. Take ISO settings, for example. If you want to push the ISO beyond the maximum 6400, you need to navigate to one of the top menu tabs, select Custom functions, click through to the second custom function, and then enable ISO Expansion. If Nikon menus are too long vertically, Canon menus have too many tabs, some of which contain nested functions. Also, rotating the main dial while simultaneously pressing other buttons can be an interesting exercise in frustration.


Well-balanced for its size, the Rebel is a pleasure in the hand.

Once you’ve figured it all out, however, the T3i is a pleasure to use. Image quality is generally quite good, though the T3i suffers from serious luminance and color noise at its highest ISO setting (12800). Even at both ISO 3200 and 6400, luminance noise is still somewhat distracting (although no worse than the D3100 at ISO 3200), but color noise is minimal at ISO 6400 and below.

The built-in flash can act as a master unit if you own Canon external flash units, offering great flexibility in lighting. On its own, it’s a typical pop-up flash, mostly useful for fill or when you’ve got nothing else.

In the end, the EOS Rebel T3i is a terrific value at about $850 with the 18–55mm f/3.5–5.6 image-stabilized kit lens. And Canon’s rich array of lens choices gives you tremendous options as you explore your own photographic inclinations.

Canon EOS Rebel T3i
$850 (online) w/18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II

Canon.com
Specifications
Sensor 18MP CMOS APS-C
Maximum Photo Size
5184x3456
Autofocus 9-point (cross type)
File Format
CR2 (raw), JPEG
Storage
1 SD slot, SDXC capable
Viewfinder Pentamirror (95 percent coverage)
Shutter-Speed Range
1/4000-30 sec
Flash Sync
1/200
Maximum Continuous Shooting Speed 3.7fps
Scene Modes 5 (portrait, landscape, close-up, night portrait, moving subjects)
Maximum ISO 6400 (can push to 12800)
Shots with Battery Charge 550

Canon EOS 60D

FLEXIBLE CONTROL PLUS HANDHOLDING WHEN NEEDED

At first blush, you’d think the EOS 60D would be more capable than the older EOS 50D. That’s only partially true. It’s got more pixels and a more sophisticated metering engine, but it lacks the metal body and has a lower maximum continuous shooting speed. Making those changes allowed Canon to lower the price a bit: the EOS 60D body can be found for less than $1,000, while the kit with the 18–135mm IS lens is about $1,200.


The D-pad nested inside the 60D's control dial is a bit awkward.

Like the lower-end T3i, the EOS 60D offers a fully articulating LCD screen. Stepping up to the EOS 60D gives you a pentaprism-equipped viewfinder. Using a pentaprism increases the bulk of the camera slightly, but the viewfinder is brighter, making manual focus a bit easier. The EOS 60D feels beefier and more solid than the T3i, and its balance in the hand when using larger lenses is better.

The EOS 60D’s user interface is similar to the T3i’s, which means a fair amount of menu hunting. If you want to change any settings for video, you first need to select video with the mode dial. It’s logical, given the dense structure of Canon’s menus. Having the main dial vertically mounted directly behind the shutter button is a bit awkward. Also, nesting a D-pad inside the quick control dial on the back of the unit is a bit much. One nifty feature is a fully working artificial horizon visible on the LCD, which makes adjusting the relative tilt of the camera easy.

You have easy control over picking your focus point, which makes selective focus easy. But this also makes you realize how limited nine autofocus points are, though all are cross type at higher f-stops. Autofocus is fast, with little hunting in low light. Auto white-balance performance is pretty good, too, though with the usual limits, depending on lighting conditions.

The EOS 60D can shoot up to 16 shots in raw mode before the buffer fills, but that buffer takes a whopping 17 seconds to empty. Shooting at the full 5.3fps makes shooting action a real pleasure, but you need to shoot in relatively short bursts to manage the buffer in raw or switch to JPEG.


The EOS 60D is beefy and balances well with larger lenses.

Interestingly, high-ISO shooting (ISO 3200 and 6400) seems to generate images slightly softer than the T3i. As with the T3i, if you push to ISO 12800, you start to see a lot of chromatic noise. Still, high ISO performance is pretty good overall.

Like the T3i, the EOS 60D supports full HD resolutions, including 1080/30. (None of the DSLRs tested here support interlaced resolutions, however.) Video quality is good, and shooting video is easy and straightforward, although autofocus performance is limited.

The EOS 60D costs a pretty penny, but you’ll be rewarded with fine handling, Canon’s superb selection of lenses, and excellent video capabilities. We wish the user interface was a little less awkward and some of the key features present in the older 50D had been retained, but you’ll get great photos and videos with the EOS 60D.

Canon EOS 60D
$1,000 for body (online), $1200 w/18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

Canon.com
Specifications
Sensor 18MP CMOS AP-C
Maximum Photo Size
5184x3456
Autofocus 9-point (cross type)
File Format
CR2 (raw), JPEG, and M-RAW
Storage
1 SD slot, SDXC capable
Viewfinder Pentaprism (96 percent coverage)
Shutter-Speed Range
1/8000-30 sec
Flash Sync
1/250
Maximum Continuous Shooting Speed 5.3fps
Scene Modes 5 (portrait, landscape, close-up, night portrait, moving subjects)
Maximum ISO 6400 (can push to 12800)
Shots with Battery Charge 1,600

Nikon D7000

CATERS TO PROS AND CONSUMERS ALIKE

Nikon built the D7000 using a partial magnesium shell (top and bottom) with dust and weather seals. It feels slightly less balanced in the hand than Canon's D60, but this is a minor inconvenience that most shooters won't notice.

The D7000’s user interface is easier to navigate than the D60's, but it does fall down a bit in the mode dial. The detent is pretty light, and there’s no lock, so it’s easy to accidentally change modes without knowing it.


The D7000 offers lots of buttons and controls, but they're cleanly laid out.

What’s impressive about the D7000 is that Nikon pushed its sensor size up to 16MP while improving the high-ISO capabilities over those of past generations. In fact, even at the extreme setting of ISO 25800, there’s almost no color noise, though luminance noise is quite distracting. Auto white-balance occasionally has issues with flickering fluorescent lights even at relatively low ISOs and high shutter speeds.

Nikon’s LCD-based UI offers fewer choices than Canon does but also doesn’t require you to scroll through long menus to find obscure settings. Like the EOS 60D, there is a flexible set of control customization options. The mode dial also has two settings, labeled U1 and U2, that let you easily recall customized settings.

The built-in flash works as expected but can also act as a master in Nikon’s CLS remote flash system if you’re using Nikon SB700 and higher flash units. On the consumer-friendly side, the D7000 has more scene modes than many point-and-shoot cameras—19 in all. Some of these actually work better than we expected. In particular, the Silhouette mode metered complex backlit scenes amazingly well. The D7000 also has two SDXC-capable slots, and you can designate whether to use one to mirror the other as spillover or for video.


That red accent tells you it’s a Nikon.

One highly useful feature is the 39-point autofocus (nine are cross type), which is easily selectable with the D-pad. The ability to fine-tune your focus provides excellent composition opportunities. On the other hand, don’t forget to move the focus point back to center when you’re shooting fast action! The D7000 can shoot at a full 6fps, which makes it a great option for sports, but the buffer size is limited. If you’re shooting 12-bit raw format, the buffer fills at 14 shots and takes 12 seconds to flush. If you want to shoot at a higher dynamic range, the D7000 can shoot in 14-bit mode—but the buffer fills after only a few shots.

Video is more limited than on either Canon camera. 1080p is only supported at 24fps and there’s no 60fps option for 720p. Image quality is good at those resolutions, but if you plan on shooting lots of video, the limitations are worth noting.

Overall, the D7000 is a high-end prosumer camera with some professional aspirations. It’s got great low-light performance, reasonably fast autofocus, and feels pretty good in the hand, though large lenses will alter the balance. The mode dial is a little problematic, and the buffer could be bigger, but overall, the D7000 offers photographers great shooting flexibility coupled with useful handholding when you need it.

Nikon D7000
$1,200 body (online), $1,500 w/18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 VR

Nikon.com
Specifications
Sensor 16.2MP CMOS Nikon DX (APS-C)
Maximum Photo Size
4928x3264
Autofocus 39-point (9 are cross type)
File Format
NEF (raw), JPEG
Storage
2 SD slots, both SDXC capable
Viewfinder Pentaprism (100 percent coverage)
Shutter-Speed Range
1/8000-30 sec
Flash Sync
1/250
Maximum Continuous Shooting Speed 6fps
Scene Modes 19 (landscape, portrait, night portrait, sports, and many more)
Maximum ISO 6400 (can push to 12800)
Shots with Battery Charge 1600

Mirrorless Marvels

Technically, most point-and-shoot cameras are “mirrorless,” but the moniker seems to have stuck to cameras with (mostly) larger sensors and the capability to swap lenses. Panasonic and Olympus tried to establish a standard with Micro Four Thirds (a sensor format that’s about 40 percent smaller than APS-size sensors but much larger than most point-and-shoot cameras), but Sony and Samsung rained on their parade, coming out with different formats.


Are mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses, like the Panasonic GF2, the future of high-end photography or just a gateway drug to real SLRs?

The Panasonic GF2 is a Micro Four Thirds camera; its shape is reminiscent of the rangefinder film cameras popular in the 1960s. It lacks a viewfinder, but an electronic viewfinder can be attached to the hotshoe. It shoots video at full 1080/30 (saved as 1080i) and 720/60 formats in AVCHD mode, just like a camcorder.

It handles much like a point-and-shoot, but you can swap out lenses. Panasonic and Olympus make a variety of lenses that can mount on each other’s Micro Four Thirds bodies. The Panasonic GF2 isn’t much bigger than some point-and-shoots, though it’s not something you can tuck into a shirt pocket. Panasonic also makes the more SLR-like GH3, which offers greater control and capability.

The smaller sensor size relative to an SLR does mean that low-light performance is limited. While the GF2 is capable of going to ISO 6400, anything above 1600 is a noisy mess.

Still, there’s something compelling about these smaller cameras that allow you to swap out lenses. Available lenses include primes as fast as f/1.4, zooms out to 300mm (effectively 600mm, due to the 2x crop factor), and even wide zooms (7–14mm, roughly equivalent to 14–28mm full frame). They look cool, can shoot great photos with good light, and the lenses allow excellent shooting flexibility. It’s very possible that a mirrorless design will be your future camera of choice over an SLR.

Tips For Better Pics

HOW TO MAKE THE BEST USE OF YOUR HARDWARE


Gavin Farrington
Professional Photographer

Tip 1 - Photography is all about light, so start paying attention to it even when you aren't taking pictures. Observe the light around you and the way it interacts with subjects and environments. Quantity of light does not equal quality of light. Cameras do not have the benefit of bi-optic sight like our eyes, so shadow and highlight are your go-to tools for communicating shape and depth. Typical on-camera flash is unflattering partly because it strips the shadows and thus the shape and depth from your subjects.

Tip 2 - Don’t be afraid to push into the high ISOs instead of using your flash. Modern cameras, especially full-frame models, capture phenomenal images in low light. It's better to deal with a little sensor noise in your post-processing than to lose the shot completely to motion blur.

Tip 3 - Don't assume that upgrading the camera will improve your photography. Before buying a new body, have a list of three or four specific problems that an upgrade would solve over your current gear. If you purchased a DSLR during the last four to five years, chances are you have plenty of resolution. "More megapixels" is rarely a good reason to upgrade. If you have money to spend, first consider a new lens, or challenge yourself with off-camera lighting.

Tip 4 - Dump that kit zoom lens. In addition to having a better grasp of light, you'll also want to improve your compositions. Abandoning zooms will force you to think a lot harder about what you're doing—what you include in the frame, and what you don't. There's a time and place for zooms (on a full-frame body start with a 50mm prime, for example, or on a crop-frame body start with a 35mm prime, which on most brands will get you close to a 50mm equivalent field of view), but they won't train you to be thoughtful about your compositions the way a fixed focal–length lens or prime lens will. Even the cheapest prime lenses will offer significantly better image quality than a consumer zoom and are typically “faster” too, allowing more light into the camera.

Tip 5 - To avoid camera shake, the golden rule for people with steady hands is a shutter speed of 1/10 of a second per mm of focal length. On a 35mm-equivalent FOV, 1/35 of a second is the lowest practical handheld shutter speed. At 200mm, 1/200 is your lowest practical shutter. Again, this rule only applies to hand-shake. If your subject is moving, the rules change depending on how fast they are. I find when shooting weddings (humans moving normally about a room) at 50mm that 1/125 is the slowest I can get away with and still keep the majority of my frames sharp. Hold the camera in tight and close to your body. The closer it is to your core, the more you can use yourself as a brace. Don’t try to use live view unless you are stabilizing the camera or shooting with very high shutter speeds.

Final Thought - A camera is not a human eye. It “sees” light very differently. The human eye is truly an impressive instrument; next to it a camera is terribly limited. Wielding a camera skillfully is about understanding its limitations and learning to work around them, or even better, turning them to your advantage.

Gavin Farrington ( www.gavinfarrington.com ) is a professional photographer and longtime reader of Maximum PC magazine.

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