Guide to DSLR photography for Newbies + Product/Price/Outlet List


Senior Member
Nov 29, 2005
1. Brief update of progress

2008 Dec 10: This thread is slowly becoming a white elephant, so it will be broken into a few different threads and streamlined.

1. Summary
2. General advice to total photography newbie
3. Forewords for the others
4. Most common questions by newbie
5. Useful FAQ threads
6. Useful reading on print

Before considering DSLR upgrading from compacts (scroll down)

About Exposure
1/3: Nature and distribution
2/3: Inputs and Dependent features
3/3: Judgement and Control

Links to other scattered topics
List: Brands of products available
Guide: Price/Outlet/Service List
Guide: About digital aspects of DSLR
Guide: About lenses
Guide: Use of backlighting
Guide: About intentional and unintentional blurring

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2. General advice to total photography newbie

2.1 Reading resources for newbies

On this page, there are
4. Most common questions by newbie
5. Useful FAQ threads
6. Useful reading on print

And over here, I'll add on links to guides aimed squarely at total newbies, such as
Sulhan's photography notes

2.2 Step wise approach, one at a time

Came across this thread, and realise that big open ended question from total newbie means that there is no point asking what they want to shoot if they have not yet have a camera and cannot visualise in frames.

Step wise approach should be
1. set a budget and get a camera
2. learn how to use the camera in snapping
3. read up and practise on metering and exposure settings
4. practice on composition with feedback learning on forum
5. cope with difficult situations and learn about light
6. learnt how to get to and around specific genres of photography

2.3 Set a budget and get a camera

You can read this first.

Set a budget first. if it is anything less than $800, consider a compact (non-SLR camera that is small size) or a prosumer (non-SLR camera with more manual control, variable size). prosumer read nightmare's thread.

if budget is not a problem, with a budget between $1000-1500, get a 2nd hand DSLR mid-entry level or 1st hand DSLR basic-entry level. then start from there.

2.4 Learn how to use the camera in snapping

The first steps to using a camera is not learning about exposure, although that seem to be the starting topic for everyone.

You need to know the basics to capturing a photo, even a bad one.

A dummy guide would be what the manual will teach you in general, and certain things that is essential in capturing a photo and posting on forum.
1. On/off, insertion of memory card and battery
2. diopter to view accurately through the optical viewfinder
3. half lock to focus, follow up a full press to capture photo
4. transfering photo out to the computer, and conversion from raw to jpeg if needed
5. how to post an image on the forum

Read further from focusing and sharpness.

2.5 Read up and practise on metering and exposure settings

The chapter gradually expands on this big topic. Read further from Exposure & factors and Exposure control.

P.S. There is a lot of inter-related issues between different aspects, and cross-linking is not possible at this stage. If you find that you can't really locate what you think you need to read in this guide (although it may be hidden somewhere), just google it, it is faster that way. A better way of learning of cos, is not to rely on this guide. Although i have put in some of my learning findings that are not commonly or maybe never were mentioned in books/magazines, almost everything should be found somewhere online or on books. Apparently books that cost you a sum of $30-50 should have its worth through clarity of explaination from true experts, good organisation (which this thread lacks) and simple to understand pictures and diagrams. Dun save on this and expect the same ease of learning. Move to 6. Useful reading on print. Online resources may be free and more easily accessed, but contents never beat a profit driven effort in books.

2.6 Practice on composition with feedback learning on forum

Composition is not exactly a topic that can be taught because the rules and regulations are not fixed and is often over-simplified. Certain photographic principles does not override creativity, originality and personal aesthetic appreciation, which need to be cultivated over with time, practice and feedback.

To learn about composition, one need to know also about the focal length properties and various things on how to achieve the desired composition. Read further on Composition: Spatial relationship of a 3D vision.

2.7 Cope with difficult situations and learn about light

More difficulties will be appreciated and thought about in practice. No point reading them before you encounter the problems, as reading too much will drive you to sleep if you can't appreciate the problem itself.

Some of this problems are listed below at "Most common questions by newbie". Scroll down to read. of cos after some hands on.

2.8 Learnt how to get to and around specific genres of photography

By this point, you would be considered a beginner rather than a complete newbie. I can't share more as I'm also a beginner for most genres.

Different subjects requires different approach. For landscape, research and hunting for vantage grounds can take hours to days. For streets portraits, you need to know how to interact with strangers. For sports, you know you can't think too much for things are just too fast and good photos comes with practice, anticipation, instinct and reflex.

It can thus be considered as a "specialisation" and there is too much to cover and won't be (can't be) covered here.


3. Forewords for the others

Disclaimer: All this information and write-up is for sharing purposes based on personal understanding. This information is provided with neither warranties nor claims of accuracy or completeness of any sort. However, do assist in advicing should the information be incorrect or outdated.

The essence and spirit of this thread
From Shuttergraphy

I help people who have helped me, so they can help you and in future, help me too. Would you help me?

Basic altitude in a forum
Wolfgang, moderator

Now, as my circle of friends grew, more opportunities came my way and I have recieved so much from all the kindness that was shown to me and this is what CS is to me. For better or worse, bickering and all, I am ever so grateful for CS for being such a lovely place and the springboard where i got so much of advice and opportunities from. It is one of the reasons why I continue to believe and try.

This is why after all these while, with everything that has happen, I still believe that courtesy, tactfulness and advice can change minds and photographs.

I hope CS can continue to be such a place where young photographers or newbies are given a chance to shoot, share and perhaps become a better person/photographer as time goes by.

An example to learn not to be so.

Sharing your links.
Guys, do contribute threads, links, websites, or any advices to newbies buying their first DSLR. whether you are pro or a newbie like me, just share with what u think is useful for the others, and let our combined efforts be centralised. I think it is a waste when some of the excellently written posts or threads are lost with time, so i kept and collate them. Thanks in advance to those who have posted after my posts. I hope my experience will help newbies think more and read up more before asking for more specific advices.

Sharing your pictures in this thread.
Whereable possible, I would try to use my own pictures as examples. But supposedly anyone has his own, or have links to pictures that allow pasting on the forum (for non commerical purposes), be it a part of a camera body to illustrate where the button is, or a picture that shows how a monopod looks like or how a white card look like, or a diagram illustrating an idea, or an example of an effect or an error such as lens flare, if you are willing to share, just email me at

Sharing your consumer knowledge of pricing in respective threads
At the same time, Product/Price/Outlet Listing would be a congregation of whatever newbies need to compare and consider before and during starting out on their system. It will be links to threads maintained by other parties because I know it just cannot be maintained by one person. and newbie or not, everytime you buy a new equipment, just share with people how much you spend for it, where you buy and when you buy. this require combined efforts for no one on this earth who is not in the business can maintain that list for you if no one contributes. After the guide to newbie, the following portion shares a list of links to which you can contribute. Pls contribute the pricing to those organized threads and not here. Thank you.


4. Most common questions by newbie

1. Should i get a DSLR? What and where should I buy?

Before considering DSLR upgrading from compacts, below.
Guide: Price/Outlet/Service List

2. What does all the abbreviations on the lens means?
Guide: About lens for newbies > 2. DSLR lenses nomenclature

3. What settings do i set to ensure correct exposure?
1/3: Nature and distribution
2/3: Inputs and Dependent features

4. Why is my pictures not sharp? What should I do?
Guide: About intentional and unintentional blurring

5. What is noise? Should i avoid it? How do i avoid it?
About Exposure > 2/3: Inputs and Dependent features > 7. Factor 4 in the light equation after it reaches the sensor, and what it affects other than exposure: ISO

6. How can i correctly expose both the sky and the foreground?
About Exposure > 3/3: Judgement and Control > 5. Regional balancing of exposure

7. What is depth of field? What is bokeh? How can i achieve a shallow depth of field where the subject is sharp and background is blur?

8. How do i post images on clubsnap?
Read the FAQ (guide, troubleshooting, regulations on critique corner) on how to size your picture, how to upload it and how to post.


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Posting pictures from flick,
as posted by ziploc and picture from YoYoYo.

Original link:
Forum displayed link:

Flickr does allow hot linking. You need to use the pic's url instead of the album's. This does not work.


To make it work, right click the pic in the link above and copy the url of the pic. You'll need to remove the "?v=0" at the end, like this:


Resulting pic:

Posting pictures from multiply??
Multiply does not provide hot-linking for the forum, i guess. Tried everything i can with my own pictures to no avail.​

Different hosting sites gives you different html codes, some of which does not allow hot-linking. A few simple rules apply
1. it should ends with a picture format, such as .jpg.
2. a secondary link with a lot of .... in between, may have been altered and only works for that forum or that page. It may not appear normal, if you simply cut and paste this link (which is not complete and original) onto another forum.
3. if trial and error does not work, google and look for another host.

For various online image hosting sites, please look below.


Online resources Listing: Web hosting

Poll of usage of different Online Photo Hosting Site (from 2007 Dec)

USA / Taiwan: Yahoo Flickr
USA: Photobucket
USA: Google Picasa
USA: Pbase
USA: Smugmug
USA: Smugmug Digital Grin
USA: ImageShack
USA: Hewlett-Packard Snapfish
USA: FortuneCity Myphotoalbum
USA: Shutterfly
UK: Clikpic
USA / ?Italy: Digital Railroad
USA: PhotoShelter
USA / Japan: zooomr
USA: DotPhoto
USA: Zenfolio
USA: Deviantart
China: Comsenz Fotoc
USA: Lucid Dream Photoalbum
USA: multiply

Online resources Listing: Uploading into stock for sale
UK: alamy
UK/USA: Getty
USA: fotosearch
USA: dreamstime
USA: Shutterstock
USA: 123rf
USA: fotolia
USA: bigstockphoto
Canada: istockphoto
Singapore: fotegrafik


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5. Useful FAQ threads

Events & locations
Upcoming photographic events
Listing for photographic locations in Singapore
Information of shooting at Punggol

Learning photography/post processing
Photoshop online

Specific photographic types
Macro & close-up
Macro convertors
Articles for underwater photography
Manual focus lens & film (nightwolf75, from 2004 Oct, 95684)
Developing B/W negatives (streetshooter, from 2003 Sep, 45612)
Alternative photography FAQ (nightwolf75, from 2007 Mar, 265184)

Forum practices
Guidelines for critique corner
Copyright regulations

Photography for career

Brand related FAQs, pls refer to Page 1: DSLR Models below, or to the respective subforum

Useful reading online
Better suited to latest advance. Free. Putting up some sites that I come across.

Blogs and tutorials
Digital Photography School by Darren Rowse
10 most common mistakes by Andre Guntler
The Luminous Landscape by Michael Reichmann by Ken Rockwell
Nikonian resources


6. Useful reading on print

Useful reading on print
More detailed and organised. Recommended over online information.

My favorite magazines being
1. practical photography
2. digital camera world (note the word "world", cos there are other similar titles)
3. photography monthly
4. 風景写真 (from Japan, if you can find it)

I would advise against magazines that are
1. too technical and has too little pictures, without much discussion on photographic skills, or those that
2. tells you how cool your gear is (it is better for them to tell you what problems your gear have and how to overcome it)

Good books to start with include
1. Understanding exposure by bryan peterson, can buy from Riceball, or check with times, borders & kino.
This book will drill the idea of exposure into your brain.
2. HWM megaguide: digital photography, can buy here or check here
Covers most aspects with easy to understand diagrams.
3. Lighting by David Prakel, can get from Riceball
covers an all-round understanding of various aspects of lights, makes me understand light is not all about exposure.
4. 100 ways to take better landscape photographs
wonderful pictures and plenty of concepts to grip.

still not sure what to get, go to riceball photography as below and ask the boss for advices (he is from shanghai but speaks excellent english)
by the way, skyestang is sharing some chinese magazines for Nikon in this thread, do as what he says if you are interested...

Books recommended by microosm

1. Complete Digital Photography by Ben Long
2. PCPhoto Digital SLR Handbook (A Lark Photography Book) by Rob Sheppard
3. The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby
4. Guide to buying Digital Photography books by Gary Bunn
5. some e-books

Books recommended by chngpe01

1. Nature Photography Field Guide by John Shaw

Places you can get these books and magazines include
1. the photography/mag section of the big bookshops such as Kino, Borders and Pageone (Pageone surprising has less photographic magazines)
2. mag section of smaller outlets of MPH, Times & Popular (MPH has more photographic magazines)
3. art/design bookshop (Basheer) of Brash Besah, think is on 3rd floor at the edge
4. larger mag outlets such as Holland V and bugis junction B1 near foodcourt
5. and to support a dedicated photography bookstore

Riceball Photography Bookstore
Funan DigitaLife Mall
#01-24, 109 North Bridge Road, Singapore 179097, Tel: 63376255, Fax: 63367076, open everyday, 11am-9pm,


Is it okay to post/publish unflattering photos of strangers without their permission?


1. I think the guiding principle should be "Do unto others as you would have others do to you". Don't post a picture where, if you substituted the subject with yourself, you would be unhappy with the photo being posted.

2. As pointed out, "unflattering" can be subjective. A secure person with a well developed sense of humour can appreciate a shot of himself in a funny situation, while another person may take offence.

3. I think it's OK if the person cannot be clearly identified ie the back is to the camera, or the face is partially obscured.

4. Always be prepared to take down a picture if someone has raised an objection.

5. If a picture of a person (flattering or unflattering) has no redeeming value ie not interesting or good-looking or funny or making a point, it should not be posted in the first place. Then again, all these qualifying factors are highly subjective, aren't they?

What should you watch out for your rights when entering a photography competition?

Quoted from The Bill of Rights for Photography Competitions by UK-based Pro-Imaging

1. Entrants will retain copyright and moral rights in their images. Terms and conditions of competitions must not require photographers entering them to assign their copyright to another party

2. The sponsors/organiser will only acquire limited usage rights for submitted images to any one competition. Usage is restricted solely to promoting the specific competition the images were submitted to, or future competitions where that competition is a recurring one. Free Usage includes the production of competition merchandise, namely posters and cards providing they are fully credited. If free usage for an image is to extend beyond five years then permission must be sought from the photographer who will have the right to decline such requests. Competition rules which do not state that the images will be used to solely and exclusively promote the competition will be deemed to be using the images for other purposes, and such other purposes will be deemed commercial usage.

3. The rules of the competition must be explicit and state one of the following -
- that images submitted to the competition will not be used in commercial products or merchandise nor licensed commercially, OR
- that any commercial opportunities that arise will notified to the photographer who will be free to negotiate terms independent of the competition, OR
- that images will be used in commercial products or licensed commercially with reference to the competition and that each such usage will be subject to a specific non-exclusive rights managed license not exceeding five years usage at a fee freely negotiated with the photographer concerned.
For the purposes of clarification any usage that is not directly, solely, and exclusively related to promoting the competition will be deemed commercial usage. The rules must state that an entrant to the competition can decline any commercial usage licenses that may offered to them, AND that such action will not affect their chances of being chosen as a winning entry.

4. Competitions should list all organisations granted usage rights to submitted images directly resulting from each organisation's association with the competition as a supporter, sponsor, partner, etc. This provision enables entrants to know which organisations will get rights to use their images.

5. The competition must have a specified date on which prizes will be awarded, and that date must not be more than 16 months beyond the date upon which the competition details are first made public. This condition is to prevent free usage for submitted images extending over years simply because an end date for the competition has been set more than 16 months into the future.


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Links to price guides (user maintainence)

simlim square

VR-Zone Pricelist

updated on the fly by the shop vendors themselves.

Summary of "Before considering DSLR upgrading from compacts"

Basic readup & research
1 .Have an idea about DSLR... and what is the main purpose of choosing it over the other camera types
2. Have an understanding of basic photography
3. Get more information

Considering whether need to upgrade
4. Pace according to your passion level
5. Plan a budget
6. Always consider the weight and bulk of a DSLR first
7. Would a bridge camera with manual settings suffice?
8. Consider entry-level v.s. midrange DSLR
9. Consider which brand of camera system

Comparing on selected brands and models
10. Choosing the model by comparing features

Hunting for lobang and checking it on purchase
11. When & where to buy?
12. What do you need to check at the shop?
13. What accessories do you first consider to buy almost immediately after the camera system?
14. What accessories would you slowly consider on adding on?
15. Should I compliment with more lens now?

Starting out on this forum
16. What to provide before you ask on purchase?
17. Where to start saving your pictures online for posting on the forum?
18. How to post pictures for critique?

Improving further
19. How to improve further?
20. Finding an area of interest
21. Where else should a newbie start reading?
22. Where to practice?
23. Take lessons
24. Post processing

Regarding other product listing, pls go to page 4 (or check the front page for updates)


Before considering DSLR upgrading from compacts: Reading

Other guides.
CNET: DSLR buying guide
google it

READING: 1. Have an idea about DSLR... and what is the main purpose of choosing it over the other camera types

By this point, you must have heard of something called SLR and is keen in considering a better camera system other than the lower ends point and shoot cameras. Read Page 6 for further details on what is a DSLR and what makes it so.

The first question in reading this part is to know what is a DSLR and is there really a need to plunge so much money into it - in short, what's so good about it? is it really what you want and what you need?

Main features over compact & prosumers to consider
1. easier to handle creative controls of advanced settings
2. superior quality in the form of larger sensor and larger glass
3. options of interchangeable lens on the same camera body
4. direct and sharp visualisation of picture to be taken
5. power saving mechanism

Main differences that may hold you back
1. lack of video recording mode, option taken out to save battery power
2. viewfinding habits have to be changed. bizarre angles can only be coped with swivable LCD display which DSLR often lacks except for certain models.
3. inclusion of mirror box and pentaprism invariably increases its size and weight, thereby limiting the photographer in terms of bulkiness when keeping on the move, strain of heavier weight and increased paranoia from the modern society with a stigmata against large cameras.

An alternative of getting an intermediate bridge prosumer can be considered here from night86mare's thread.

READING: 2. Have an understanding of basic photography so that you can choose between different DSLR and different lens, and so that you can start playing around with your camera once bought

The reason i put reading of basic photography before consideration of DSLR is becos i feel that understanding what a DSLR can achieve in the dynamics of digital photography is enticing in the decision. that will enable you to make a better decision and read up more once u got the gear. even if you didn't get the DSLR in the end, these basic would help in your current compact/prosumer till you are ready for the next step.

This is the painful (or enjoyable) part, but it is eventually essential.
Your purchasing mentality
Either you want to be know what you are getting by knowing what others is telling you in your thread asking for help, or you just leave it to your budget and get any entry level by your gut feeling on brand confidence. If you are still thinking of asking and is concerned what is the "best" of a certain category, it is still be preferable that you bite your teeth to pull through the basics in order to understand the features offered by each DSLR model. After reading through the basics, you may still be undecided before posting a thread, but at the least, the foundation is there to stay.

More information is in page 2 to 6, with product listing on page 7 and more information on equipments on page 8 (update is tedious and slow, i understand).

In fact, this whole thread can be really lengthy and painful to go through, with mainly text. I dun have enough expertise to show good illustrations all the time and wish to abide copyright rules by avoiding direct posting of other people's images. In fact, i would recommend newbies to just grab some basic text for digital photography with lots of pictures inside, e.g. HWM megaguide, which serve a better purpose. of cos the only way this thread is useful is becos it is free and lead to free online information.

READING: 3. Where can I get more information with regards to the cameras I may be interested?

I have stated below but I think I should just state it here too. The fastest and easiest way is to look for comparison summaries in the magazines.

For better comparisons with side by side comparisons of the same picture at the same white balance or at the same focal length etc, one should go for magazines who do comparisons at times. books dun do that, becos they are supposed to last for a while. once the models are outdated, the books becomes outdated, so books dun do that. magazines do that. So far i think digital camera world, practical photography and photography monthly have occasional issues that did some pretty ok comparisons for that, as well as having the main bulk teaching you tips in various photographic types, having nice pictures to appreciate and also how to analyse them, how to recognise mistakes and rectify on shooting or improve with post processing. i always see digital camera buyer but have not tried that, it may be more suitable for that purpose. Popular photography also do such comparisons but somehow have less appeal to me.

Google have always give lots of online reviews and comparisons. For comparisons of nikon models, Ken Rockwell did a fair and leading job. But he probably is still more familiar with Nikon than with Canon, and dun give much light on other brands. The other common review sites include dpreview and the rest that i'm not familiar is in google which you can check out on your own.

Get to know what you want and have a little idea of what the different models offer, you can probably gets better answers on the forum than the typical "depends on what you need".

Further descriptions of reading sources can look into page 1, post 6


Before considering DSLR upgrading from compacts: Considering

CONSIDERING: 4. Going slow/fast in practice according to your passion level
- how far have you been shooting and how much do you already know about photography and photographic equipments?
- how sure are you in investing in this hobby?
- what are you interested in shooting and are you sure you have the uptmost passion in a particular type of photography?

DSLR provides much versatility with its lenses and accessories, but this comes with a price, and so does the optical quality of good glasses at large aperture and long focal length. Read Thom Hogan's article on Tip of the Iceberg.

those who stay long enough in photography are usually those who eventually found their niche, or is slowly finding new niche to conquer.

Different people have different passions, situations and financial positions. By Clockunder, 2007 Aug, slightly paraphrased.

If one is completely new except probably have been using a compact digital camera to shoot in auto mode just like most casual photo takers are doing, one may want to start with a prosumer camera (1st hand = $600-$950 or 2nd hand still within 1 year warranty= $400-$700) and still have some money for a tripod ($30-$80), filter, extra memory card, extra battery (or battery charger and rechargeable batteries), flash etc.

Spend 6-months to 1 year reading, shooting and learning, and to find out how strong your interests in photography is.

After that period, you would be in a much better position to decide whether you are willing to spend a lot more money for photography equipment. If you decide to spend more and go into DSLR world or give up photography, then you can still sell off you prosumer camera (probably at a loss of between $100-$400). Possibly too, you may decide a prosumer camera is just what you need and stay put.

Some forumers may strongly advice you to jump straight into DSLR mostly because :
a) they have either gone through the prosumer camera route and now into DSLR, and now think that they should have gotten into DSLR from the start.

However, these people are those whose interests have been sustained and intensified, and therefore are willing to spend much more on photography. So naturally, from their own experience, they would advice strongly going into DSLR straight away instead of going through the prosumer camera route. At the same time but unseen, they are also many who started with a prosumer camera but eventually gave up photography and are no longer here to give advices.
b) they have jumped straight into DSLR for various reasons (e.g. have the budget and/or sheepishly listening to others and/or passionate about photography, following friends, already an old hand in SLR etc.).

Again, they are the ones who have already ascertained their interests in photography by now and so their decisions to get straight into DSLR turn out to be correct. However, they are also many who regretted jumping straight into DSLR but are no longer around photography forum to give advices against jumping in.

Learning photography takes time, money and some hardwork. Your willingness to spend time, money and hardwork depends very much on the strength and sustainability of your interests and how deep your pocket is.

So don't take advices wholesale. Do your homework and think carefully. Different people have different passions, situations and financial positions.

CONSIDERING: 5. Planning a budget to see if DSLR is an option
- consider 2nd hand camera bodies and basic lens to start with if you are on budget
- do not expect the same focal length capability (good long zoom or multiple lens) without extending your budget.
- place another separate amount for additional basic equipment, with at least S$200 for basic accessories and S$500-1000 for decent accessories. ardent photographers can easily spend thousands on good accessories, excluding lens.

Make reservation for budget. By Clockunder, 2007 Aug.

A lot of newbies tend to think only the cost of a 2nd hand camera body + kit lens and therefore erroneously think that the cost of going into DSLR is comparable to using a brand new prosumer camera.

For DSLR, you will almost for sure need to buy more lens + accessories (such as tripod, filters, extra batteries, extra memory card, flash, etc.) and also costs and time for maintenance (dry cabinet, sensor cleaning etc.).

For e.g., just a single good lens can easily cost as much as the camera body; a good tripod will cost >$300 and a good flash is between $300-$600.

Eventually, you will need to spend more than $2,000 easily even if you buy a 2nd hand DSLR body with kit lens at below $1,000.

You really need to find out what you want : type of photography (macro/close-up, candid, still life, abstract, sports, landscape etc.) and what kind of image quality you desire and the type of light condition you shoot mostly in.

Some types of lenses and camera bodies are more suited for certain types of photography and lens quality varies very widely. A cheap 70-300mm lens with small aperture cost only about $200-$400 but a good one costs over $1,000-$2,800.

Moreover, many people's interests in photography wane not very long after getting into it. Those who have gotten into DSLR and eventually exited not very long after are no longer here to give you advices. While many of them have sold their gears in the buy/sell section of clubsnap, many still have their equipment sitting in their dry cabinet but no time (due to waned interests) to shoot.

At the end of the day, you need to first find out what you want to shoot, the costs of various equipments and see whether your interests in photography can be sustained before deciding on what type of equipment is appropriate within your budget.

My advice is : if you don't know yet, don't fall into the pithole which many newbies fell into : buy into a cheap DSLR camera body + kit lens which falls within their low budget and then slowly realise that they need to spend much more than what they have thought because they didn't do enough homework before hand.


Before considering DSLR upgrading from compacts: Considering

CONSIDERING: 6. Always consider the weight and bulk of a DSLR first
- does it affect the mobility and your mood in bringing it around and using it to shoot?
- how heavy are you willing to bring around?
- do a note to check the weight of the camera you are interested, total weight being at least camera body + battery + lens + UV filter, estimating roughly 700g to 1.5kg for a basic setup.

always remember one thing:
the likelihood of you bringing out the camera is the 1st and foremost single most important factor before anything else.

CONSIDERING: 7. Would a bridge camera with manual settings suffice?
- consider intermediate weight/bulk as a plus point (acceptable weight & size with quality and features)
- consider non-interchangeble lens as a limiting point
- more information about prosumer or bridge camera from nightmare

Prosumer provide a cheap means to learning photography: By night86mare, 2007 Aug

Prosumers can produce good pictures, and provide a cheap means to learning photography at a low cost, a prosumer equivalent of DSLR would cost way more than what is suggested at those threads I mentioned, because you'd need a body + a 18-200 with VR (unless you get in-body VR). Of course image quality would be superior in DSLR but if you work within the limits of the prosumer, not noticeable really.

More importantly, I feel, is the effort of the photographer to shoot. There are many ways to learn, but shooting, is the fastest way to improve like I always tell people.

Verdict: DSLR or not DSLR?

After so much talk, should I get one or should I not? Ultimately everyone ask that. The bottomline is judge by your budget and interest level.

One who is limited by budget, are bothered by weight or do not mind some limitations, may try prosumer first to see if they would upgrade their budget or weight threshold after trying out prosumer, or to see what limitations need to be overcome. DSLR is recommended for those who demands more, are determined in getting their desired photographic output, wanted the learning to be easier and who have more cash at hand, with at least $800 to $1000 for a 2nd hand body, most basic lens, and rudimentary accessories.

CONSIDERING: 8. Consider entry-level v.s. midrange DSLR
- go for the entry level if you do not know about SLR and manual settings, start small and slow
- go for midrange pricing if you are already confident about manual settings and have extra to splurge, or if you know you are very likely to upgrade from an entry level very soon (e.g. within a year) becos you are more than sufficient to handle an entry level

CONSIDERING: 9. Consider which brand of camera system
- consider the lens pricing you are willing to expand to
- consider the format of the aspect ratio - whether you like 4/3 (1.33) or wider (1.5)
- know your needs of the focal range, if not just start with a kit lens, play until comfortable before considering new lens that does not cover your range.
- alternatively you can consider which brand after you have decided at which level of DSLR you want to enter, before comparing the models from different brand.


By this point, you have probably been getting serious about getting into DSLR. Unfortunately this portion cannot be covered further, and you will always get the same posting of maybe Nikon xxx model v.s. Canon xxx model, or "help me choose one", or "advice regarding DSLR" because everyone have a different need and different features may be of variable importance to them, and thus a tailor made thread will always be created there for each of us. And things change with time, so does comparisons and reviews. But Part 6 and 7, with some background knowledge of DSLR body/lens features, will play a part in proposing what you as a pre-users think you need, and getting better answers what other post-users think you will get what you want.

But what i suggest however, as stated above, is to get one of those recommended magazines listed in Part 14, see if they have a section on comparison review of all the entry levels or of all the intermediate levels, at that point of time. These magazines, does to a certain extent, covers extensively and comprehensively, of many models, illustrated with specifications and concepts, and give you the reassurance of the editor's choice. Then whatever portion you are unsure, just post again in the above fashion, but this time, you get a very much better idea. And looking back and forth different pages in a magazine, is going to be much easier than looking back and forth different reviews on different models in different threads or websites online. Our eyes and mind works together, and that is why some people still compare printed photographs to decide on what is best.

For example, Practical Photography 2007 January Issue covers an ultimate round-up section of current DSLRs, so did Photography Monthly 2007 March issue.


Before considering DSLR upgrading from compacts: Comparing

A listing of various models in the section of "DSLR Models" in the first page, so is the brands, although it may not always be up to date. This is perhaps the most difficult portion to write and models change with time, even features and factors change with time.

COMPARING: 10. Choosing the model by comparing features
- set a budget range up to the maximum you can afford, set aside about $200-$500 for accessories
- Ken Rockwell have a few common Nikon/Canon models to compare, but do note that many feel that his comparison may be inadequate with respect to the strength in Canon with which he is trying to catch up with. This link is old, so please read up elsewhere on newer models.

There are many features, but these are the one that i think is most critical for newbies

Hardware handling
It seems that only the weight is a quantifiable. Mount compatibility and lens system may be read, although not quantifiable. The other three require usage and possibly prolonged usage in order to understand what is good and what not.

Manufacturer like to make the weight of their camera bodies sounds light, especially to the upgrading community who prefers something light. As such it is usually quoted without batteries and caps, and of cos without lens. Lighter models currently weigh about 400 to 700gm and the intermediate models weigh about 700-1000gm, and those with vertical grips is about 1.2kg. Starting with a lighter body will allow you to think if you would want to upgrade for more features and take more weight. On the other hand, once you got used to the features on the heavier body, you may find it difficult to let go of them in order to get a lighter body.

Mount compatibility
Each brand's bodies take their own brand's lens. Exception include Fujifilm bodies taking Nikon F-mount and the 4/3 systems (Olympus and Panasonic) sharing lens. There are also 3rd party lenses, such as Tamron, Tokina and Sigma, which provide alternatives mainly to the Nikon and Canon giants. Mount compatibility is an issue mainly regarding compatibility of older lenses, in regards to physical attachment, ability of aperture control from body, ability of autofocusing and ability of metering. This is a big topic that is quite beyond me, but as far as i know, nikon D40 and D40x does not take electronic lens without motor, hence ruling out good lens like nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF-(non S) D and other non-motor 3rd party electronic lens. This has become a major concern to the otherwise great review of Nikon D40. Some of my film user friends choose pentax with a M42 adapter. Film users might consider that. For further information on mount compatibility within the same system, you may need to get online resource or printed pamplet. I got a copy from Nikon service centre on their lenses, and find it so much easier to read and decide.

Lens system
Invariably tied to mount variability, this is another important consideration especially when one is going to get dedicated on the system and get a set of lens. Canon and Nikon are big players as they have a big family of lens and 3rd party support, including cheaper alternatives. Some of the experienced users may start comparing the optical quality of the lens between the different brands, but that is usually not the most important factor to the newbies.

Viewfinder layout, size & brightness
Viewfinder layout and brightness is a very important but often not quantified. Even the size is often not mentioned. Again manufacturer boasts about the LCD size, but hardly talks about viewfinder size - a more important factor in my concern. The clarity, brightness, simplicity and comprehensivenss of the information on the viewfinder is of utmost importance, because this is where you judge your composition much much more effectively than on the LCD postview. I've just saw how bright and large is my friend's nikon D200 & D80. i think i know what i'm missing out. On the contrary, accumulated exposure can only be seen on the LCD postview, but between the two, i still think the viewfinder is more important as it determines the capture, while LCD postview assists in review and the second shot. If you have no 2nd chance to shoot, it is needless to say why the viewfinder is more important than the LCD postview.

The size need to be big enough for you to hold comfortably (but not too big) and buttons need to be ideally spaced to fit the fingers spaced out. This require you to know which button to press and try it out at the shop, go with a friend to show you how. So far most reviewers have said that Nikon bodies have done well for such purposes, but I myself have only used a single Nikon body and cannot really give any light except for reproduction of what is printed usually. This is quite a subjective factor, and since it is your own hand and you are eventually going to be the only person to use the camera, I feel that one can ignore what others say about ergonomics and just try it out yourself because there is no guarantee that if it works for 99% of users, it will work for you.

Buttons layout
More important than overall form, yet another subjective factor. In general, serious users would prefer more buttons than less. Why? Doesn't that make it more cluttered and confusing for use? Probably not. You will still use some of the more common buttons but not all when you start. As you start to know more functions, you will realise that those buttons you need to assess quickly may require combination of pressing two buttons, or need to go through the LCD menu, which means you need to take your eye off the viewfinder and than onto the LCD and back to the viewfinder. This is when you want them all outside. Next important point is how well all these buttons are spaced, whether it is intuitive to press there, the texture of the buttons to allow good dexturity but not so bad as to cause skin abrasions on prolonged use, and finally buttons are large enough and not too close to the next button to avoid squeezing the wrong button.

Software handling
- ISO: the wider the range, the better. one with ISO as low as 100 would be good.
- noise level at higher ISO: try to have one that gives decent results at about ISO800 and ISO1600
- type of sensor: the sigma foveon sensor and the fuji sensor are the special ones, CMOS sensors are good, CCD sensors are ok.
- megapixel: determines the size of printout you can go for with decent results
- spot metering: required to help you with difficult lighting condition
- memory slot: do take note that older camera may not take the newer formats, e.g. the 4GB high capacity SD cards.
- burst mode: important only if you shoot events that moves. otherwise stick with what you have.


So many specifications, so what exactly is the most important if i just want to simplify my thinking process?

1. your budget
2. ease of taking picture (which covers many things though)
3. noise level at higher ISO

Most newbies will consider getting into the entry level first whereas film users or richer people may consider jumping into the better ones immediately. Budget is always an issue and dun overspend on the camera body leaving none for many other accessories.

Ease of taking picture covers mainly
1. weight,
2. size & buttons layout, and
3. viewfinder.

It is pertinent to be able to handle the camera body well and have a good mood before good pictures comes. It must have a suitable weight for your carrying around, and the buttons should be well spaced apart. Try by putting your right 2nd finger on the shutter release button and the front dial (if any) and with your right thumb moving around the navigator, the back dial and other controls on the right side of the back. This area is the most important areas that govern your handling habits. The reason why I do not usually use exposure lock is becos with my finger on the on/off button and shutter release, my thumb cannot reach the auto exposure button (AEL/AFL) comfortably. I would very much prefer them to move the button nearer the back dial.

If as an ultra newbie, you have no idea of the various buttons i'm talking about, nevermind, just try it out with your friends or at the shop or by rental services, wrap the right hand around the right side of the DSLR body, with your right index finger naturally in front, and your right thumb naturally behind, then play around the buttons with different permutations. see if they fit your hand nicely.

Another portion about handling is visualisation. It will be hard to tell a newbie what is that. But all i can say is that a larger and brighter viewfinder is always better. well, i would have consider upgrading to nikon D80 or D200 for the larger viewfinder if i have the money to splurge.

We talk about budget, and the hardware. Now the software. While many talk about colors, jpeg/raw quality, megapixel....., I find that high noise at high ISO the most major issue. Newbie question, what is ISO and what is noise, then scroll to the bottom to read or search online. Next newbie question, if so, then what camera do i buy? I can only say compare all specifications and read reviews, then see if you feel that other specification or factors outweigh a potential higher noise level with which without any experience you won't know how well or how bad you can tolerate.

I think I can handle more considerations, so what's next?

1. mount compatibility and lens options
2. sensor size and the effects of the 35mm equivalent focal length with regards to your usual subject of shooting
3. megapixel

In order to step into these considerations, you need to read more widely. This is not so easy, hence they may not be immediate considerations to fresh newbies despite of being important.

Remember that those earnest to share their experience and answer your questions are likely people actively in their pursuit of shooting better photographs, who are more likely to expand their lens options. Hence you may get opinions that gear you into one direction. You may or may not join this family in future, hence unless you have a strong gut feeling or are pretty sure you will continue it on the long run, lens options may not be an immediate consideration. That is why Nikon D40 is a good option for total newbies unsure of their path, but for serious consideration a far step from D50, D70/s, D80. We all know our favourite cheap and good Nikkor AF (autofocus aka electronic and non manual) non-S (silent wave motor) D (distance marking) f/1.8 (maximum aperture) 50mm (single focal length non-zoom prime) lens, costing only about S$150 at a small size and light weight - unless Nikon gives a new AF-S version that can be use on D40, it will be a real waste.

Sensor size and their resultant conversion factor have a bearing on your framing and perspective of your subjects, and can affect the distance you adopt from your subject and hence your shooting behaviour. Read more on what that means. Of cos, it is of little use until you have used various focal lengths and understand how you handle it - this can't be read and need real time exposure. Those film users might understand better however.

Megapixel may be a myth to some, and it does have its bearing on post processing effect, and quality at a larger screen/printing format.


What makes a good camera?

Final consideration if you bother to read up on the brochure of a few final candidates and to feel them. However i reckon that requires a really diligent pre-user.

A good read from Ken Rockwell.

Handling and performance is what makes a good camera. In general, performance (WB accuracy, metering accuracy, fast AF, good noise control) is often better in a newer camera body as technology advances to deal with old technical problems. But handling is an art which the top engineers may not understand it better than inquisitive users.

Good handling means suitable size/weight for most users, with well layout buttons that fit the ergonomics of the fingers. Frequently used functions are those that control exposure and focus, requiring split second to change with regards to the situation, such as aperture, shutter duration, ISO, white balance, exposure compensation, exposure lock, PASM, AF/MF, AF point, AF mode (single, continuous) should require just a single dedicated button/dial without combination control and be felt easily without the need to look where they are, and be viewed from the big bright easy to see viewfinder without the eye having to look elsewhere, e.g. from the top panel and the LCD menu.

One thing i feel personally very important however is that care about backward compatibility is an ethical integrity issue. Some I shall not name have abrupt withdrawal of current lines and have changes to their entire systems making their previous supporters having to start from zero again.

Less important factors
build quality: magnesium alloy is better than plastic but heavier.

Before considering DSLR upgrading from compacts: Hunting & Buying

HUNTING: 11. When & where to buy?
- anytime as prices take a long time to depreciate, not worth waiting and not shooting
- avoid buying too short before going overseas (one of the most common reason to get a good camera), play around well with your camera before setting out.
- avoid settling the deal with the various fairs, as prices is poorly competitive, gives you junk freebies and often poor customer services + lack of time to consider your purchase with higher likelihood to buy on impulse without due information from retailers.
- call up the shop to get the e quotes to compare, dun be shy about it
- go to the shop you are comfortable with, best with a friend who knows the shop already
- avoid going for less known shops if you have no general idea about the market, start off with a safe shop listed here, venture off when you feel more comfortable about the market

BUYING: 12. What do you need to check at the shop?
- more over here
- of cos that it is working and has the various components included (a gd habit), but this is less often the case once you are comfortable with the shop, especially when it is more or less reputed


yes, confirm that it is warranty from the manufacturer and if their service centre is in Singapore. Grey set means it is parallel import without going through the distributor and hence does not carry warranty. If so, warranty may be covered only by the shop and yet nothing is stated on paper and often not spelled out too, even verbally. Next thing is whether the item is covered by local or international warranty and how long is it. wanted to be more confident and dun get bluffed? search for warranty information online first.

BUYING: 13. What accessories do you first consider to buy almost immediately after the camera system?
- yes, things that you would start to use immediately experimenting with your camera. you dun need to have a tripod and a flash immediately, although they are essential equipments in your next step of exploration.
- a UV filter to protect the front element of the lens
- a lenspen
- extra battery (cos it is almost always essential subsequently and price do not fluctuate)

There is two school of thoughts about the UV filter. One is to get the best immediately and not worry after that - that is B+W UV or Nikon NC filter, which is expensive. Another school of thought is if you are unsure of getting an expensive UV filter immediately, you can still just get a cheap hoya filter less than $10-20, covered up the front element and bear with the inferior optical quality induced by it, at least you get the front element protected in the time being until you are decided on getting the better UV filter - the problem is you wasted that money on the cheap hoya if you can just make up your mind right at the start where the purchase of the better UV filters is worth it and you won't go wrong. The last thing you should ever do, is to leave it unprotected because you may never know when you will get it dirty (it can be immediately after a new purchase). seasoned users can afford to leave it unprotected if they know how to take care of it and uses lens hood, but i won't recommend that to a newbie.

The semi-immediate accessories that you can still buy slightly later but might as well get first would be
- a shoulder bag, the most common camera bag format. bags is something that most people will remain unsatisfied with and largely dependent on individual preference. start with a shoulder bag first, then slowly consider what you want to change to, e.g. brands with better straps, backpack, SBO types? dun worry, it is common to have a few bags and still remained undecisive on what's best.
- a dry cabinet to keep your camera and other stuff (can consider a mid to big size as chances of upgrade is high)
- a starting reading material e.g. Understanding exposure by Peter Bryanson, and maybe a good magazine to spice up your interest, e.g. photography monthly, practical photography, digital camera world

BUYING: 14. What accessories would you slowly consider on adding on?
- more memories
- circular polariser and neutral density filters
- tripod and ballhead (you will need this to start experimenting with long exposure and some night shots)
- external flash (although everyone would say get this first, you seriously get afford to hold off until indoor shots are essential)
- graduated neutral density filters
- a more complete cleaning kit
- more and better bags
- a good editing software
- monitor calibration tools

BUYING: 15. Should I compliment with more lens now?

Generally the first task for newbies with their new equipments is to get familiar with the settings on their bodies and train their handling with focus and along the way, composition and interaction with subjects. The next step is to refine exposure, details and colors to give the necessary aesthetic and impact. All these can be achieved with the kit lens, before further request for more clarity and sharpness, or desire for a different focal length or better low light latitude with large maximum aperture demands a different lens.

It is not a good idea to buy all the different lens you want at the start, hoping buying more will give you more discount. First of all, you hardly know your stuff and may not get what is good, and you may even get what you do not need. But i do propose that a cheap AF and MF prime (consideration of manual focus if you dun mind absence of auto focus gives you more choices) can help you train your composition for that focal length. You will start to see where you stand and how big your subject is, will give you what kind of composition. It is not so easy if you use a zoom.

Newbies often use a kit lens for a duration, and wonder if they can try out more with others. It is not wrong either, but among so many choices, what should you buy first?

1. Do consider what is your limiting factors that push you for a new lens. Do you need a larger aperture? Or do you need a longer range of focal length?

2. Do you need to have only 1 lens for the range of focal length in view of convinience? Or can you break up the range into a few focal lengths in order to accomodate better optics?

3. What eventually do you want to capture the most? Decide on that, narrow it down and ask specifically for what focal length would be suitable.

with regard to additional lens,

i would suggest that one optimise the use of his kit lens, and first understand one's shooting preferences and what the focal lengths of one's existing lens can give him. if the lens is the true limting factor, e.g. focal length and maximum aperture, and if the decision is to stick to the current brand being used, then the investment of additional lens is to be considered. there is a tendency to buy more lens at the start with impulse, try to hold it down first until you are sure it is the lens that limits you, not your photographic knowledge, technical handling and aesthetic visualisation. always remember, in terms of sharpness, correct focusing, steady handling and knowledge of control of shutter duration is to be dealt with first, and not by changing into sharper lens or lens with vibration reduction mechanism.

1. do you want to change your distance to subject and shooting style?
2. do you want a wider field at same distance?
3. do you want a tele magnification at same distance?
4. do you need a faster lens with larger maximum aperture for low light situation?
5. do you need better image quality with a prime or a high quality zoom with reasonable optical zoom range?
6. do you need a single lens with wide optical zoom range to avoid changing lens?
7. do you need a shorter minimal focusing distance for macro?
8. do you need specialised lens, like lensbabies and tilt shift lens?

with these 8 questions, you can vary your priority and decide which lens do you want to buy. buying one lens at a time is good for you to learn each lens well.

If planning for overseas trip, and thinking of adding new lens or equipments...

if newbie considering purchase for 1st DSLR for a shortly incoming (less than a month ahead) overseas trip, hold off temptation to consider to buy additional lens and take time to understand your existing lens first. for subsequent trips, plan ahead and allow ample time to practise on new lens and equipments.

test all equipments before bringing overseas. plan your weight carriage for overall, and for shooting outdoor. read here for more information.

Whether to upgrade a body or to buy a new lens,

decide on which one is the limiting factor. This article from Ken Rockwell is worth a read, except that I disagree with one point. I think the body has more to do with ease of use. The rest is however true, the lens is a better buy as

1. The lens is a more important determinant of clarity and overall optical quality.
2. It can be used for a longer time than a body before getting obsolete.
3. It holds better resale value in a couple of years.
4. It opens up to different focal length and different composition, hence different subjects.


After getting your DSLR: Starting out & posting

STARTING: 16. Is it ok to ask in the forum still if you are unsure?
- sure you can but note the following.

one may not be kept to date with ongoing models all the time unless he is in the retail business. we all know the models only during the period we buy them ourselves. individual request is best put into individual threads. those who have researched more and have shown so, will definitely get better response. so either

1. you have no idea what type of cameras you want... and so you list out your needs and hope someone give you a general direction on how to find out more on your own first

2. you wanted to get down to a specific model and not sure what to narrow down to... then get some research and list down a few models you are interested in, and their specifications and differences, ... then list out your needs and priority, and get ppl to advise on how to fine tune to your needs or in their opinion, what would they do. This example is great here, and while you may be less knowledgeable then the threadstarter mentioned, you should try your best and people can tell.

3. if you just want to ask for pricing to see if what you are offered is overcharged or not.
forumers have compiled a list of common DSLR outlets, of which one of them is from my thread,
call them the shops to get the the quotations, and naturally you will get a good idea,
then next go to the list of price guide and help to update the prices
i mean, if one will seek help from another forumer (who does not know him),
shouldn't he also be grateful enough to contribute to the others? not something difficult or demanding
if it is something rare, and is neither covered by the price guide nor listed in many of the shops listed, then it is fair enough to post a thread to ask for help.

Make sure you state at least two things

1. what is your needs?
what kind of pictures are you most likely to take? What is your concerns and worries, e.g. weight, image quality, file size, cost?

2. what is your budget?
state one you think you are more comfortable with. state one you think you can afford to stretch if the deal is good.

clubsnap term of use
in particularly this 2 following points
"2. New Posters (newbies) - Use the Search Engine to find out if whatever information you are seeking has been posted before posting a question."
"11. Information Accuracy - We do not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of any posting, regardless of whether the posting comes from a user, from a celebrity or "expert" guest, or from a member of our team. There is no substitute for healthy skepticism and your own good judgement. It is easy for people to pose as experts without having any expertise whatsoever.", this is of cos for me included.

STARTING: 17. Where to start saving your pictures online for posting on the forum?

- you may get an online gallery to upload your pictures for storage and/or display, and then link it to the forum for posting.
- the below is cut and pasted from this thread, check the thread itself for further updates

ClubSNAP gallery - free, max 10mb.
ClubSNAP webspace - paid webspace subscription.
Deviant Art - (not sure?)
Flickr - free, unlimited space, max 100 mb per month upload. limited to 3 photo sets and display of 200 (most recent) photos for free accounts
Fotopic - free, 250mb.
Multiply - free unlimited space & uploads. Subscribed accounts doesn't have ad. banners.
Pbase - 30day and 10mb free trial, paid subscription.
PhotoBucket - free, recently upgraded to 1GB
Yahoo! Photos - free, unlimited, but auto resize your pics
Zoto- free
SuprFile - a free image hosting site from the guys who brought us suprnova ;)
ImageShack - a popular free image hosting site

STARTING: 18. How to post pictures for critique?

- read the FAQ (guide, troubleshooting, regulations on critique corner, ensure short write-up on submitting picture for critique and see here on how to do it) on how to size your picture, how to upload it and how to post, before you post in the critique corner, if not your favorite moderator may have to ask every of u to read the FAQ, it is a dull job when one have to get that over and over again.