Sunday, May 24, 2015


L to R: Canon EOS Rebel XTi, Canon EOS 20D, Nikon D1x

SLRs from the big Japanese manufacturers have come in three distinct size/price classes for years and years now.

There are your basic consumer-grade cameras, with polymer bodies and pentamirrors instead of pentaprisms. The next step up are your "prosumer"-grade cameras, which are usually more ruggedly constructed, feature-rich, and offer some other benefits, such as powering up faster. On the downside, they're bigger and heavier, but not terribly much.

Then are the "pro-grade" cameras. These are big, heavy things, packed with batteries and usually with a built-in vertical grip. They've got pretty good sealing against rain and dust, although you wouldn't want to jump in the pool with one, and are built to take a beating.

My first DSLR was a Canon Rebel XTi (400D overseas) and it was your pretty typical consumer DSLR. It takes nice pictures and is actually my newest DSLR, and has the most megapixels and autofocus zones and what-have-you. However, when I was visiting with Marko a couple years ago and got to coonfinger his Canon EOS 10D that was a hand-me-down from Oleg, I got sold on the idea of a prosumer camera and ordered a used 20D from KEH.

Although the 20D is two years older and has a sensor that gives up a couple megapixels to the one in the Rebel XTi, it powers on slightly quicker and has a confidence-inspiring heft in the hands. I know these are just machines, but they're also conduits for inspiration, and so seemingly woo-woo factors like being inspired by the camera can matter. There are cameras I don't mind leaving on a shelf to collect dust, and then there are cameras that I can't keep my hands off of, that I want to pick up and paw and play with, that make me want to get out there and make photos: Which one do you think will give better results?

That brings me to the really honkin' big pro cameras. A kind reader sent me a Nikon F5, gratis. Now, the F5 may be a completely superseded 35mm film camera, but I remember when it was the mack daddy of them all. I am so madly, passionately in love with this thing, so unable to keep my paws off it, that I ordered its digital stepchild, just because, even though it's a totally outclassed camera in this day and age.

All this is a roundabout way of saying that, when I needed to do some macro photography of the Glock the other day, I pulled out the Rebel XTi, because that's where I keep the 60mm macro lens parked these days. After more than a year with the EOS 20D and my recent dabbling with the big Nikons, that Rebel felt so tiny and light! I want to put a little 40mm pancake lens on it and go walkabout in Broad Ripple!