SLR cameras help you create
extraordinary photographs, not just snapshots. The right SLR will grow with you
as your picture-taking skills develop. Here's how to identify important features
and buy smart.
Does a 35mm SLR (single-lens reflex) camera make sense in an age of digital
cameras? Yes, if you want more than snapshots. No other camera format lets you
capture high-quality images in such a compact package. Few other cameras offer
affordable zoom, macro, or wide-angle lenses. You can buy SLR-based digital
cameras, but they cost about $5,000 — far more than a top-name film SLR, lenses,
and accessories. And image quality isn't as good as 35mm — yet. SLR cameras help
you create extraordinary photographs. You get more control over the image. And,
if you need a digital picture, you can scan from your quality photograph, slide,
or negative. All 35mm SLRs use any 35mm film — color negative film for prints,
transparency film for slides, black-and-white, and even infrared film. There are
a few APS SLR models that use 24mm Advanced Photo System films. These don't
enlarge as well but offer convenient mid-roll film change.
Autofocus vs. Manual Focus
When choosing an SLR, you must choose between autofocus (AF) or manual focus.
All major manufacturers have effective AF systems; one offers a system that
tracks your eye movements through the viewfinder to focus on your subject. Some
offer image stabilization, which lets you shoot photos at slower shutter speeds.
With manual cameras, you set the focus yourself, and often the aperture and
shutter speed as well. Olympus, Pentax, Nikon and others make manual-focus SLRs
with few electronics. They help you learn how to compose an image and understand
depth-of-field. You also get access to a vast range of lens choices from many
makers. And, if you're on a budget, manual cameras often cost less than AF