Through the Lens: What DSLR should I get?

In this week’s Through the Lens feature, Jeremy Pavia does well to explain the things you should consider when buying or upgrading your camera body. This is something I get asked a lot as well, so I’m glad I can direct people to this article instead of explaining it all myself. Its pretty funny that when the average person asks you what kind of camera you have or what kind of camera to get, its worth is almost immediately determined by their familiarity with the name, the price & the number of megapixels. So have a look at this article so you’re not one of those idiots.

And if I can add just one thing, FUCK MEGAPIXELS.

Since the advent of digital photography, the word “megapixels” has done less to describe a camera’s resolution and a whole lot more to lure stupid consumers with a big numbered buzzword. The number is derived from the actual number of pixels horizontally & vertically on a camera’s sensor, for example 5616 x 3744 = 21,026,304 or 21 megapixels. But as Jeremy explains, its not always the amount of pixels a camera has that matters, its the quality of the sensor that will make the most difference. Not only that, but as soon as you start cropping or shooting in a lower quality setting, the revered megapixel count goes down. Here’s an example:

What came out of the camera as 21 megapixels, after straightening & cropping became a 16.8mp file.

And I still think that is overkill. The first DSLR I had was the OG Canon 1D which came on to the market in 2001 with a whopping 4 megapixel sensor. That camera served myself and a lot of professionals well for a long time. As long as you’re not shooting billboards or making enormous prints, megapixels hardly matter. To be honest, the only time I’ve ever had a problem where a few more megapixels would have really helped was a few years back at Interbike. when a company wanted to use a portrait I shot of one of their riders on the outside of their booth. Having worked on a lot of tradeshow booths in the past, when they gave me the dimensions, I knew my little 2474 x 1648 file just wouldn’t cut it. Not wanting to ever miss out on an opportunity like that again, I invested in a 5DmkII the next year.

But even moving from a camera body that was light years ahead of the technology in 2001, I still had to make sacrifices. The main two being flash sync speed & continuous frames per second. The 1D was fucking boss with a true sync speed of 1/500 and the capability to shoot 8fps. The 5DmkII, on the other hand, has a sync speed of 1/200 & shoots a hardly useable 3.9fps. So while the 5DmkII seems like a clearly better camera, its been a kick in the nuts and a pain in the ass. Everything is not what it seems!