Thursday, October 15, 2009

Compact Camera VS Digital SLR Camera [buying guide]

Ever since i started videography
(channel 0604433C, now channel actuallyi -
a lot of friends came to me for camera advice
fortunately i do know a thing or two about cameras
i currently uses an EOS 500D
to date, my gadgets includes
1. BG-E5
2. 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
3. 50mm f/1.8
4. 17-40mm f/4 L
5. 580EX II
i'll be giving a buying guide with FAQ
however these are just my personal opinions
i am NOT a professional
i learnt my stuff through trial-and-error and reading up
but you may find these pre-purchase tips useful

Compact camera mostly refers to digital cameras
that fits into your average-sized palm
they are mostly equipped with automatic intellience
to help you digitally adjust settings to make your photos look awesome
Digital SLR cameras, what does it mean?
SLR means single lens reflect, i refuse to explain technicalities/physics here
it actually allows the user to digitally control the metering, aperature, shutter speed
and many other factors to achieve the user's needs
So why are dSLRs so expensive and bulky?
The cost factor is because of the size of its sensor chip inside
its bulky because there the camera is made to reflect light from the lens
onto the mirror then onto the sensor
more components, yes?

that is the reason why i'm writing this FAQ
to stop the cycle of explaining to friends every other day
ok the answer is simple - depending on your usage
CLUBBER - you do not wan to bring a bulky dSLR into the club/pub/discoteque
it makes you look like an idiot (shit! i'm revealing my real age by using the "disco" word)
CAM WHORE - unless you do dumb-bells or have well developed foreceps/muscles,
i wouldn't advice you getting a dSLR to camwhore
its not as light as you think it is
especially if you have a budget
and since you'll be shooting with AUTO modes, get a good compact
compact cameras gives better pictures than a cheap dSLR with basic lens.
HIKERS - if you're gonna take pictures of mountains from afar
a dSLR will do a better job for sure, however you'll need a good wide-angle lens
these days many compact camera comes with wide-angle too!
POSEURS - if you just wanna look cool with a dSLR hanging on your neck
its just an illusion!
many people can afford an entry-level dSLR today
a trip to Orchard Road and you'll understand what i mean
any ah mao ah gou ah beng ah lian has a dSLR with kit lens
its too damn common already
cameras that grabs my attention are those with a nice flower hood
(not the tube shape ones that looks like a black plastic vagina)
and i'll stare longer to see if its an L-lens or some expensive shit
because a dSLR user understands that kit lens takes shittier pictures
compared to a compact camera at the edge of technology
after you fully exloit its range and aperature
MACRO MANIACS - you should get a dSLR if you love to take insects/flowers/coins/nipples very very very very very very close-up and magnified
a nice SLR macro lens allows you to understand every insect actually have a different face
or maybe also, every nipple is different
yea.. you get the idea
HOME-BREWED PORN STARS - if you want to take pictures of yourself or your partner nude/naked or in-action, my advice is to use a mobile phone. Home-brewed porn is most original and tasteful using the most traditional medium. Don't waste your money on compact cameras or dSLRs taking these photos, posting them online and later get flamed/trolled/accused of ripping them off from some porn sites. You are not Edison Chen or Paris Hilton. Unless you like to macro nipples.
RICH KIDS - if you have too much money to spend, get both
poor people shouldn't get dSLRs
(i belong to the poor category, but i'm a sucker for photography)
why? because if you were to get an entry level dSLR at around SGD$1,000
a good buy may get you a kit lens 18-55mm or 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6
and you can't take decent pictures for shit
your result may be lousier than a compact camera half the price
to achieve coolness in your photos you need many different types of lenses
portrait - perhaps a decent prime lens that cost SGD$500
landscape - a decent wide angle that cost around SGD$800
walkabout - a decent range that cost around SGD$1,200
note that i used the word "decent"
and with all these lenses under the singapore climate
if you dun get a dry cabinet, they are gonna be attacked by fungus
and its GG (good game: something like game over) for you
to invest in a decent dry cabinet, maybe a 50litre at SGD$200
main point is - its ridiculour blood sucking hobby to get a dSLR
if you are bloody rich and want to look ridiculously professional
here's wat you may want to get
a Canon EOS 5d MKII with EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
it costs around hmmm.. SGD$30,000?
i guarantee you look like a rich kid with the bling blings
and remember to book an appointment with your masseur
as you'll most probably sprain your back, parading around Orchard Road
Did i also mention, i find it extremely stupid for people to buy a dSLR
and be shooting in AUTO/PROGRAM modes, its ridiculous
go get a compact camera!


some new compact cameras allows you to adjust these fuctions
like a digital SLR camera, so here's a guide to using them.

aperature (f)

it means how big/small the shutter opens
f/1.2 means it opens very big and can allow a lot of light to go in
and can capture a clear subject and gives the out-of-focus or off-focus region a nice background blur (aka bokeh/faux)
f/22 means it opens just a little bit can allow you to shoot stars/moon kinda
and can capture a clear subject/foreground/background (aka heavy depth-of-field)

shutter speed

it means how fast the shutter opens and closes
1/12,500 means it snaps before you can even blink your eye, it allows you to take photos of moving objects (like your neighbour bathing) or give a background blur (with a big aperature) or freezes water flowing
5 means it takes 5 seconds before it closes its curtains, this is usually used in low litted environments. it can give a nice flowy water effect


it means the sensitivity to light
a low ISO (100) allows you to take clean, minimal noisy (pigmented) photos
a high ISO (12,500) allows you to take pictures with a bigger aperature or higher shutter speed to capture action and movements

exposure compensation - brigher/darker, kind of

metering - it means where and how much the sensor determine and capture the located subject
evaluative gives a good gauge of foreground and background with its sensor points
partial gives detects around the middle which is good when the background is brighter than your subject (you know sometimes your model's face become very shady?)
center-weighted gives a focus in the middle and lesser on the backgrounds
spot is the same as partial, but it focus in a smaller area like the nipple nose

white balance - it is to obtain good natural-looking colours in your photos
for example if you're shooting a bridal gown in white background under white light
its gonna look like a shade of ghostly or blinding white or the bride may appear bodyless
its best to select Auto White Balance if you don't know the temperature of the lightings
else you may select from daylight/shade/tungsten/cloudy/fluroscent etc

1.4 Common Stupid Questions (FAQ)
i get a whole shit load of these questions every few days
so before you ask me your questions, read through the FAQ
and see if you can find your answers there

Q. I want to buy a compact camera after reading your post, so which model/brand should i get?
A. From experience and in my own opinion, I feel that Canon gives a reddish tint to your photos so I like it for portrait shots so my subjects look a bit "ang geh ang geh" naturally. Fujifilm cameras are great for nature shots, the greens and blues turn out very nicely. Nikon is definitely not my pick if i were to take photos of human as i feel sometimes the colours turn out a bit the fake. Sony compact cameras gives a very super duper powerful digital enhancement boost. Lumix promoters/show girls are pretty sweet. Olympus is kinda cult to me, but they give really nice photos too.
However all these can be overcomed by great photoshop skills and simulated colour balance inside the camera, heh heh..

Q. I can't decide from these two models, which should I get?
A. Your camera is a very personalised item (also apply to lens), don't judge it by the specifications - its a very big and common mistake! So how do you decide on which camera/lens to get? Go to a shop, hold the camera/lens in your hands and if possible try out a few shots. If you like the "feel" and result of it, bring it home. Even with the slightest hesitation, don't buy it.

Q. Why got entry-level and professional dSLR? Why the big difference?
A. To put it simply, the sensors are of a different size. Some cameras are full-framed and some have a crop factor. My EOS 500D has a 1/6 crop factor, meaning the focal distance will be shorter or you can also say that my photos are 1/6 smaller la. Also, the more professional/expensive models may come with better support for harsh conditions, for example my camera produce a whole fuckin load of shit-whore noise or blur at ISO1600, but for twice the price a camera can take it perfectly sharp and clean like when i'm at ISO800. Money is King.

Q. How many mega-pixel is your camera?
A. I hate it when people ask me this question. dSLR users don't give half a shit about the mega-pixels, most don't even know the mp for their cameras! My camera gives about 15.8 mega pixels - so what does this mega-pixel whorethingamagik mean?
It means the amount of pixels in a photo, it has got nothing to do with how sharp/clear/pretty your photos look. Who needs high mega-pixel photos? People who print their photos really really big. Here's a rough gauge - 4R photos (3-5 mega pixels), A4-A3 (8-10 mega pixels). You don't need a high mega-pixel camera if you don't print your shots big.
Does your 8 mega pixel handphone camera take better picture than your 5 mega pixel compact camera? Not likely. It just allows you to have better clarity when zoomed in; and allows you to crop more parts of the picture yet maintain the quality.
If you ask me - Then what gives a nice clear sharp photo if mega pixel is not a factor?
My answer is - Skill, Technique, Lens, Condition and maybe Adobe Photoshop.

Q. What is L lens?
A. I think this is also quite cult. L lens are lenses produced by Canon which are rather expensive, you can't get one below SGD$1,000. It is signified by a red line near the rear end of the camera. In specifications, it has a red letter L after the aperature. For example - EF 24-70mm f/4L
More importantly, I find it rather sexy. Ok. Yes, I do.

Q. I decided to buy a dSLR, what are the essentials that I may need?
A. Many dSLR users rush into buying a whole shit load of useless equipment that they heard from others are good. My advice is DO NOT RUSH, UNLESS YOU'RE RICH! Look, I'm still using a 1/6 crop factor camera, whats the hurry? First thing when you get your kit, play around with it as much as possible to discover your usage and needs. If you find your interest in shooting models at events, you may want to invest in some portrait lens, an extra battery, a battery grip, a flash gun maybe? if you find you're addicted to shooting flowers, insects and nipples closed-up, you may consider getting a macro lens, some macro ring flash maybe? Maybe if you like to take some sports events or spy on your sexy neighbour, you may wanna try out some telephoto zoom lens with a f/2.8 or something?
I must emphasize that one MUST NOT rush into buying lenses and equipment or you'll end up having a dry cabinet full of shit-load that you don't even use it. Overtime, these equipment suffer from depression and commits suicide when you're not looking.
Also, if you are very new to dSLR or suffer from liver/kidney diseases and shaky hands, do get lens that comes with Image Stabiliser(IS) or Vibration Reduction(VR); if you have sweaty palms, get yourself some gloves, cameras dun like salt or moisture.

Q. What are the categories of photography?
A. There isn't exactly any categories or genre in photography, however most of us classify them according into these areas (pretty much like art/painting) - Abstract, Still-life, Landscape, Cityscape, Travel, Macro & Close-up, Reportage, Sports, Portraits & Poses, Stage/Concerts/Performances, Event, Street, Candid, Wedding, Nature etc

Q. I don't think I want to invest in a Dry Cabinet, what else can I do to protect my camera/lens?

A. Some new users who care about their cameras yet do not want to spend much, may want to invest in some Air-Tight Boxes (SGD$3) with Silica Gel (SGD$5). Or if you have a little cabinet or enclosed space in your wardrobe/cupboard/drawers, you may consider Thirsty Hippo also. Camera care is necessary in South-east Asia climate due to the temperature/moisture which encourages growth of fungus. However, sometimes i do hope some rare lingzhi can grow on my camera so i can sell it to buy more expensive lenses. I'm juz talking shit, please do not try to cultivate lingzhis on your cameras!

Q. How do I impress girls with my photography skill?
A. According to experience, most non-dSLR users get excited over the super bokeh/faux effect that a dSLR camera can produce at ease and with much flexibility. The simplest thing you can do is, bring him/her to Starbucks, take a well-composed shot of the Starbucks coffee mug with the logo facing you; with the next nearest object at least two palm length away at maybe f/3.5 or bigger. He/she will be dripping wet amazed like an excited school girl in no time. However if he/she is familiar with photography or have totally no interest, maybe you can try showing him/her shots of yourself in a birthday suit, yes?
(Starbucks may want to send me free beverage vouchers for the free advertisement)

Q. How to I train up with my photo composition?
A. I get this question quite pretty often and i find it absolutely stupified by people who takes photos and crops away a MASSIVE chunk of it. You only do that in Macro Photography, puulease! Here's how you can train up - read and study more photos from magazines and newspapers or from professionals. Try to duplicate their shots with your camera. Also take A LOT of photographs and revise them from time to time, maybe share with your friends - to see how you can improve on it.
I have totally no education in photography, I read up on the internet about all the 1/3 rule crap and rarely follow them. When you are really familiar and comfortable, you know it when you have a good composition.

Q. Compact Cameras and dSLRs are too expensive for me, what shall I get?
A. Actually film photography and lomography are pretty much the same. Only difference is you don't get to preview/delete them on the spot. I have a HOLGA 120 GCFN and i always have a lot of old school fun with it. It comes with a flash and i also bought a fisheye add on. You don't even need to photoshop for vignette effects. Full packages doesn't even cost more than SGD$200. If you don't have SGD$200 and want to take photos, hmmm.. use your mobile phone camera or buy an instant camera.
If you're just trying to be difficult, get an imaginary camera. It could attract quite a lot of attention; more importantly every shot is a good shot, its free & portable and you can preview your pictures anytime.

If you have other questions, you may send me a PM/MSN/SMS/EMAIL.
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grant chapman said...

Nice one Demon King, thanks

Anonymous said...

What if you are a female WD and just spent 700 on a camera. Should I trade it back in or be a try hard photographer... hey everyone's gotta start somewhere, right?

promode said...

Frankly i should say that I have a better funnier,cooler, friendlier camera buying/ explaining gude! Any blog readers who read this...I know this guy...and now I feel honored. thank you Ming the king! Now I am sure to feel and look stupid when I ask u questions LoL...but il continue to anyway...hey I've got nothing to loose! Plus my teachers alsways tell me ( probably to make me not look stupid) " there is no such thing as a stuipid question child shoot it" do I feel like shooting her with a gun :-)?? Anyways I personally know u as a cool guy.thanx again.