Tag Archives: SLR

Nikon D3100 On The List Of Top 10 Digital SLR Cameras

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The Nikon D3100 digital SLR is one of the newer cameras on the market. Yet it is already one of the top 10 DSLRs in the online market.

The Top 10 Digital SLR Cameras list is a group of the top models, not by the number of sales, but by the user satisfaction ratings, or popularity. Each time a buyer logs in to one of the online stores and buys a camera, they can then go back and leave feedback about their purchase.

There is a 5 start rating that gets averaged to help potential buyers decide if the particular camera has the value and reliability they are looking for.

The list is compiled by searching the online store for highest rated cameras. In order to quality, the model must have at least 30 reviews. Then the list is compiled using the highest star-rating averages.

Why is this list of interest to you?

Photographers are in love with their digital cameras. If you are one of those who needs the next best camera, you will, of course, be doing research to find out the if the camera you think will be your best bet is actually highly regarded by others.

In this case, the Nikon D3100 is on the list and it may be just the right camera for you.

If your interest is in upgrading from a point and shoot camera or from an older Nikon entry level model, the D3100 is in the correct category for your consideration.

It is an upgrade from the D3000, The Nikon developers have been keenly listening to demands from photographers about needed changes. The newest features that have been upgraded or added since the D3000 are significant.

First of all, you can now record video. And that is not just video, it is quality HD video with full time auto-focus and stereo sound. It was not available in the previous model.

There is also now one touch Live View. This is the best thing since baked bread to some folks. No doubt, it is convenient.

Other added or enhanced features include a larger, more brilliant LCD screen for better playback or live composition.

Image quality has always been a strong benefit of this line of cameras, so there is nothing to worry about there. But since this is one of the newest models, it is quite interesting that it has already received enough votes to put it on the list.

SLR Cameras What Is A Single Lens Reflex

The hottest thing in the digital camera market is undoubtedly the digital SLR, which is better known as a dSLR. While dSLRs are flying off dealer shelves, many new users are confused about the terminology. Most people know that SLR stands for “single lens reflex.” Since nearly all SLRs accept interchangeable lenses, it would appear they should be known as multiple lens reflex (MLR) cameras.

If you want to understand how the SLR received it’s name, you have to dip into the history of the camera. Early cameras were similar to the view cameras used today. The photographer looked through the lens, focused, composed and then inserted a single film plate behind the optics to make an image. While the entire process was crude by modern standards, the photographer enjoyed great control, since he looked directly through the actual imaging lens to compose the shot.

While this was fine for still life, portraits and landscapes, this process did not lend itself to action photography. These early cameras could only record a single image at a time. Which is why you have never seen a motor-driven view camera.

Realizing the need to offer sequences of exposures, camera makers begin to experiment with various roll-film designs. With a roll of film in the camera, the photographer could fire off numerous images without reloading. Although this improved throughput dramatically, it caused another problem. The roll of film had to pass closely behind the camera’s optics, which meant that the photographer could no longer look through the camera lens to compose and focus.

Rangefinder cameras appear to keep things in focus

The lower-end, consumer roll-film cameras generally used an inexpensive “fixed-focus” lens, so a simple viewfinder was sufficient. Better quality optics, however, require the lens to be focused, and since the photographer could not look through the lens with a roll-film camera, this was a major problem. One of the first solutions to this problem was the Rangefinder — a type of camera that offered a distance measuring scale in the viewfinder. By determining the range from the viewfinder, the photographer could then adjust the focus to match — usually with very good results.

Twin Lens Reflex cameras offer another solution

While the rangefinder type cameras worked well, the camera industry is always evolving. A second method of allowing the photographer to focus and compose appeared in the “Twin-Lens Reflex” cameras. These cameras used two identical lenses, arranged one on top of the other in the manner of an over-and-under shotgun. The film winds past the lower lens, while the photographer can focus through the upper lens. The twin-lens cameras were fairly bulky, so designers added a mirror and ground glass to the top of the camera, hence the term “reflex.

Now the user could hold the camera at waist level and look down at the ground glass which previewed the image via the mirror behind the upper lens. As the user adjusted the focus on the upper lens, a gear mechanism moved the lower “taking lens” to match.

While both rangefinders and twin-lens reflex cameras offered a credible way to focus and preview a shot, neither allowed the photographer to actually look through the lens. This sometimes made exact composition difficult.

SLRs take cameras another step forward

In their quest to allow users to see through the actual “taking” lens, camera makers turned to the periscope — a simple device using two mirrors placed at opposite angles to bend the light path. Periscopes are easy to understand — any kid can construct one from a couple of mirrors and some scrap wood.

In a camera, the lower mirror is placed at a 45 degree angle directly behind the lens. Light striking the mirror is projected upwards to a ground glass. While a second mirror would show the image on the ground glass to the user, it would not appear right, because mirrors tend to reverse things. So camera designers added a prism arrangement that corrects the reversed image. When you peer through the viewfinder on a SLR, you look through a prism, which displays the image on a ground glass, which displays the projected image from the mirror located behind the lens.

There is just one problem. If you have been paying attention, you have no-doubt realized that the lower mirror blocks the light path to the film (or digital sensor as the case may be.) Now the photographer can look though the lens, but the image cannot be projected on to the filmplane.

So the camera designers had to add another wrinkle. They had to move that mirror. Just long enough to make an exposure, since when the mirror moved, the photographer could no longer see anything through the lens. So they designed the “instant-return” mirror. At the instant of exposure, the mirror flies upward, the shutter fires and the mirror snaps back down. It is a incredible feat, when you consider that instant return mirrors have to flip up and back in a heartbeat, over and over for the life of the camera.

Once the instant return mirror was perfected, photographers could once again design their images by looking through the lens. Unlike the twin lens reflex, this new breed of camera needed only one lens to focus and shoot with. So they became known as… you guessed it…. Single-Lens Reflex cameras.

Who Wants an EVIL Camera

Who could possibly want an EVIL camera? Many people, it turns out, are in the market for such a device.

From the name, it would seem there is something very sinister about these cameras, as if they could actually steal souls or vaporize subjects.

In actuality, there is nothing nefarious about EVIL cameras. The term is simply an acronym similar to SLR (Single Lens Reflex). EVIL stands for Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lens.

Depending on your point of view, the term is either an unfortunate nickname or a clever play on words. Regardless, EVIL cameras are set to make a big splash in the coming years.

The EVIL models are designed to occupy the market between inexpensive point and shoot cameras and top-line dSLRs. Again depending on your orientation, they are either a waste of time or the type of cameras the photo industry should have built long ago,

Advantages of EVIL Cameras:

Size and Weight

EVIL models are much smaller than the typical dSLR. They are also lighter to carry, something many photographers would appreciate after a long day of schlepping camera gear around.

DSLR Sensor size

Not all of the EVIL cameras have big sensors, but many of the new models use the same size and type of sensor as a typical dSLR. Larger sensors mean less noise and better image quality. The result is a camera the size of a large point and shoot which offers the image quality of a dSLR.

Interchangeable Lenses

While these new mid-range cameras look similar to their point and shoot brethren, the fact that they can accept a full range of lenses provides options and flexibility that fixed-lens cameras cannot match.

Advanced Features

Some camera makers are positioning these new models as a replacements for low-end dSLRs. To assume this role, these cameras require dSLR features such as RAW image creation, manual exposure options, burst mode, high-ISO settings and the like.

EVIL cameras do not look like a professional camera

Many people are nervous around photographers with pro-level cameras. Sports and concert venues may discourage dSLRs to eliminate unauthorized photos. The person with an EVIL camera will look like an ordinary fan or tourist, allowing them to gather photos unobtrusively.

This works both ways, however. Someone with a dSLR will appear more professional and may garner more paying assignments if they want to sell their work.

EVIL Cameras drawbacks:

No eve-level viewfinder

The biggest limitation of the basic EVIL design is the lack of an eye-level viewfinder. To compose and shoot you must use the LCD on the back of the camera. This might work with simple point and shoot cameras, but there could be severe limitations when using long telephoto lenses. Imagine affixing a twelve inch long lens on one of these cameras. To shoot hand-held, you would have to hold the camera body at arm’s length, with that huge, heavy lens protruding out the front. Good luck holding that steady.

Another disadvantage is that many LCD panels are difficult to see in bright sunlight. Composing and focusing in full sun might be difficult.

Fortunately, some camera manufacturers are offering auxiliary eye-level viewfinders for their electronic viewfinder entries.. These allow you to hold an EVIL camera up to your eye, much like a conventional dSLR. This a step in the right direction, although many photographers will still prefer the look of an optical viewfinder over an electronic one.

Lack of advanced dSLR features

While EVIL cameras vary by manufacturers, the feature list usually falls short of a dSLR. Naturally, camera makers will add features if they sense consumer demand. At the same time, the smaller form-factor of these cameras makes it more difficult to include all the features of a dSLR.

Lens/Accessories not as extensive as dSLR systems

Most dSLR lines are fairly mature, with a complete system of lenses, flash units and accessories. EVIL camera designs are new, and their systems are smaller and less-complete. Over time, successful EVIL systems will mature and expand. If you choose a model that fails to gain traction in the marketplace however, you may find yourself limited and frustrated by the lack of available attachments.

Interchangeability between EVIL and dSLR models is limited

Some EVIL cameras can use SLR lenses and flash units, making them attractive as a second body or as a backup to an existing dSLR system. Because the EVIL bodies are so small, the sensor is usually too close to the lens mount to allow dSLR lenses to attach directly. An adapter may allow you to use your SLR lenses, but adapters generally involve some form of compromise.

Prices are not much different than an actual dSLR

As dSLR prices continue to fall, there isn’t much difference between the cost of a dLSR and an EVIL camera. In fact, when you add items like an accessory electronic viewfinder, the EVIL camera may cost significantly more. The new designs are smaller and lighter, but the dSLR has more features. There are many reasons to prefer one type over the other, but price is not one of them.

EVIL accessories may not transfer if you want to upgrade to a dSLR

A point and shoot camera is generally complete by itself, so a photographer who wants to advance to a high-quality dSLR has no legacy equipment to lock them into a specific system. If someone assembles a complete EVIL system, with several lenses and accessories, they will have to start all over again if they want to move to a dSLR. This may end up trapping some photographers into the EVIL system, because they have too much invested. Upgrading to dSLR equipment may be too costly.

EVIL cameras aren’t bad, they are just different. Whether you should own one depends on your photographic aspirations, your photography requirements and your philosophy. They won’t replace a dSLR or a point and shoot in every situation, but an EVIL camera might just be a “good” option for you.