July 16, 2010

My First Digital SLR Camera

I bought my first Digital SLR Camera, the 15.1 megapixel Canon EOS Rebel T1i(a/k/a the 500D). This camera is at the top of the Rebel line and directly competes with the Nikon D90, while the XS and XSi compete with the Nikon D3000 and D5000. I did several years of research, mostly because I couldn't afford to buy until now. My problem was, the longer I waited, the more I changed my mind because the technology kept changing. I finally decided now was the time, and this was the best camera I could purchase in my price range. I purchased a two lense kit with 18-55mm IS and 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS lenses from Adorama. The camera arrived with a defective lens, but this situation was professional and quickly resolved by Sammy Santana. I thought I'd try to write about my new camera as a way of forcing myself to do some additional research to really try to understand how the camera works and the features available to me.

Having never used a camera as sophisticated as this one, I enlisted the help of professional photographer extraordinaire, Eric Stephenson who was kind enough to spend about three hours with me. Eric confirmed my research that the T1i was fast, would produce high quality photos and was capable of creating HD videos. Eric walked me through just about everything the camera could do, then I was off to Jamaica to test it out. The body is similar to the Canon XSi and weighs 1.2 pounds. Unlike the XSi, it has holes in the front for a microphone and a speaker on the back. The camera is comfortable to hold and offers a large 3-inc LCD with a 640X480 design with 920,000 dots, creating a very clear onscreen image.

All the buttons are positioned for use by my right hand, and every button feels different. Eventually, I should be able to do what i need to do without looking. There is a Live View button that also serves as the stop/start button when creating HD video.

Canon also included the Creative Auto mode that was originally found in its higher-end cameras. Eric explained this is a semi-automatic mode somewhere between the Auto mode and the Program mode.
He suggested this was the place to be when I wanted to experiment with shutter speed and aperture settings. The T1i accepts EF and EF-S lenses. It uses SD/SDHC cards, including Eye-Fi wireless cards. I learned the hard way it is a good idea to determine what type of cards your computer will read before purchasing. Or, you can do what I had to do, and purchase a card reader. If you want to take a look at all the features found in the T1i you could have a look at the manual.

I'd like to try explaining the T1i's basic shooting modes, mainly just to see if I really understand them:
Program: This function automatically sets the most appropriate shutter and aperture speed, while giving me some control over metering, exposure compensation, etc.

Shutter Priority: Lets me control shutter speed while aperture is automatically set; other functions can also be accessed in this mode.

Aperture Priority: Lets me control aperture while shutter speed is automatically set; most camera functions can be changed in this mode.

Manual: Allows me to control aperture and shutter speed, as well as all the camera's different settings for exposure.

A-DEP: Stands for automatic depth-of-field, which will automatically select the appropriate aperture to ensure that depth of field covers all focus points.

Auto: In this mode, everything is set automatically.
Creative Auto: Lets me change the brightness, depth of field, and color tone fairly easily.

Portrait: Automatically blurs the background in order to focus on the person I am shooting.

Landscape: Provides me with more depth of field to keep landscapes and wide-angle shots in focus.
Macro: For shooting small objects, this mode allows me to get in closer to the object I am shooting.

Sports: This puts into play the continuous burst mode so I can catch moving objects or sports, by giving me up to 3.4 frames per second. I used this mode at a Colorado College hockey game.

Night Portrait: A night portrait mode to take photos at night.

Flash Off: Turns off the flash.

I am no expert, but this camera seems wake and shoot fairly quickly. It also focuses and shoots much faster than any camera I've ever owned. I believe it is faster than the more expensive Nikon D90. One of the must-haves for me was continuous shooting speed. Something I didn't have before. The T1i seems very fast at 3.3 frames per second. This was fast enough for me to take some great photos at a Colorado College hockey game.

Canon worked to improve this camera's low-light capabilities, something my daughter, who owns an XSi was very jealous of. This, along with the higher resolution and video capture abilities where of great interest to me. Personally, I think this is a great entry-level camera for this price range, and it competes admirably with any other camera I looked at. I'd be interested to know what you think.
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TheBAFSignal by Bradley A. Friedman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at www.bafman.com.