by Mike McEnaney
Now that consumers are getting fairly used to the sea of digital
point-and-shoot cameras currently on the market, might it be
reasonable to think some may want to make the jump to a digital SLR
in the not-too distant future?
With 1 and 2 megapixel digital cameras coming in around the $200-$300 price range, the higher end models are now becoming more affordable as well. What would once have cost in the $20,000 to $40,000 range can now be had for less than $4,000.
And as we all know, once consumers have exhausted the limited possibilities of point-and-shoot imaging, they begin exploring the limitless world of SLRs.
While not all the news is good on the digital SLR front, there are some incredible digicams out there in this category. Let's take a look at how the market is shaping up before we check out the goods.
Right out of the chute, the first thing you need to know is: the pickings are a bit slim in the digital arena today with regards to SLRs and we'll examine why that is first.
Technical obstacles are usually the first reasons sighted for the lack of product in this category. Since the image sensor (CCD) is smaller than a standard 35mm film frame, the lens produces a telephoto effect. That negates the benefit of being able to use 35mm SLR lenses in the same fashion, and presents a particularly difficult problem when it comes to wide-angle lenses-which are rendered not-so-wide-angle. This can be overcome by the use of a relay lens, or by increasing the CCD size, but these are both rather expensive solutions.
That would walk us into reason number two for the lack of product in this category-cost. Digital SLRs are very expensive to make-particularly if the manufacturer wants them to be compatible with today's existing 35mm lenses-and of course, they do.
And lastly-if you are going to support a digital SLR camera you need to support a line of lenses. That's not a large group of folks today.
But alas-there is good news out there. The product that does exist in the digital SLR category is fabulous and getting better all the time and the technology is advancing at such a rapid rate, better, more advanced models (at more affordable prices) are sure to follow.
Before we take a look at what's out there-let's take a look at why your customers would even care.
Simply stated, the single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera provides many capabilities not found in point-and-shoot cameras. First and foremost among those capabilities is the use of the aforementioned interchangeable lenses and other accessories that take the photographer outside the very narrow boundaries of point-and-shootville. The shooter is given much greater control and flexibility and an SLR allows the photographer to check image sharpness visually. The effects of changing a lens or adding a filter attachment are visible immediately once the shooter lifts the camera to their face.
Your customers, as they were with the 35mm jump to SLRs, will be surprised at the power behind interchangeable lenses as they can provide views and angles unattainable with standard or "normal" point-and-shoot lenses. While a wide-angle lens opens up a shooters east-to-west vision of a scene, a telephoto lens will instantly add detail that seemed impossibly far away.