My First DSLR

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It was only a couple of 6 months ago that I bought the Canon S100. & now I’ve bought yet another Canon.

 

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The EOS Canon Rebel 600T Digital D3i.

Disclaimer: I’ve never used a DSLR before.

That is, until I got the Canon EOS D600 which I’ve been using it for over a month. & it’s now time for me to review it, Top Gear-style. If you want a technical review, head over to DPReview.

 

 

Does it come in black?

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Yep.

 

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EF-S 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 IS II, the kitty lens.

EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS II, nicknamed the pervert lens.

 

 

Can it take close-up shots of flowers?

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Yes.

 

 

Bokeh?

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Bokehlicious!

 

 

Can you shoot a cat, while behind bars?

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Yes.

 

 

How far does the zoom go?

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To find out, I went to the biggest lake/reservoir in Mauritius & wondered if the camera can see the other side? Clear enough.

 

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How about watching people climbing down a waterfall? Yes, I can see them.

 

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But I needed to be even more ambitious. Can I shoot the Alcatraz prison in San Francisco? Yes.

So, the zoom is very good & goes very far.

 

 

Is it good enough to capture kittens playing?

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Awww.

 

 

How wide is 18mm?

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There was only one place to test that –  the straightest straight road in Mauritius. Yes, you can capture both sides of the road.

 

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But is it wide enough to shoot the two sides underneath a bridge? Yes.

 

 

Can it take a photo of a moving plane?

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Yes.

 

 

Can it take a picture of a moving car?

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Yeah!

 

 

Can it take a picture of a moving supercar in low-light?

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Close enough.

 

 

Is the pop-up flash good?

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To find out, I went to the darkest cave in Mauritius. Alright, it’s a bit weak.

 

 

Can you see yourself in the eyes of a cat?

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Yes.

 

 

Can it do portraits of pixelated people?

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Yep. Excellent.

 

Can it take a photo of road signs?

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Ok.

 

 

What if I want a picture of kids jumping in the water?

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Ha. Checkmate creationists.

 

 

Can you take a night photo handheld?

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Eurgh. Nothing to see here.

 

 

Can it shoot the moon on a tripod worth less than $10?

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Yes.

 

 

Can it shoot the Milky Way?

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Awww yeaaahhhh!

 

 

& a sunset?

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Perfect.

 

 

Double rainbows!!?!?!

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Of course.

 

 

Can it do LEGO photography?

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Yes.

 

 

Can it take a photo of it taking a photo?

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Alright, I’ll show myself out now…

 

 

No more fooling around. I know what you’re expecting me to do… & here we go.

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Step 1: Buy a DSLR. Done.

 

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Step 2: Take a self-portrait in the mirror. Done.

 

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Step 3: Done. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Baton-Mouroum-Photography/572248949471304

(I was confused between Fresh Bokeh Creations & Baton Mouroum Photography, but went with the latter.)

If you don’t get the reference

 

 

Review

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Alright, enough of trolling, here’s my actual review. 🙂

I’ve always wanted a DSLR ever since I read a review of the Nikon D90 on Engadget. I’ve been shooting with compact cameras since 3 years now & I always knew that one day I’ll have to move to the next level – DSLRs. Reading through hundreds of reviews, comments on Reddit & discussions on Facebook, I understood that going from P&S to DSLR will be a massive leap. What I didn’t know was just how tremendous that leap would be…

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Why Canon? Although, I already shoot Canon, the choice of which DSLR to buy was up in the air. On one hand, Nikon has better sensors & glass, on the other hand, Canon cameras are more hackable & have more features. The two cameras within my budget were the D5100 & 600D/650D. The lack of motors in the D5100 put me off & given that Canons are more popular in the States, I went with Canon.

Why the 600D/T3i? Actually, the 650D was around $100-$150 more expensive than the 600D. But I was saving up to buy another lens – the nifty fifty 50mm f1.8. Unfortunately, it was out of stock & I didn’t get it.

 

Stepping into the world of DSLRs.

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When I first used the 600D, I was surprised by how heavy it is (remember, this was the first time I was touching a DSLR). With 55-250mm lens, it weighs more than 1kg. It’s not a complaint, just an observation. The heavy weight does help a lot to reduce camera shake. & because the body is so big, it’s easier to get a firm grip.

The next thing that shocked me was the AF speed. Both by how uber-fast it is when using the viewfinder & how super-slow it is during Liveview (even my L20 focused faster!). I thought that I would need some time to adapt to the viewfinder. In fact, I was astonished as to how easily I forgot the use of the screen. The only thing I miss is the grid – it’s a lot more difficult to make horizons horizontal on the viewfinder.

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& then there was the mirror/shutter. My goodness is it loud! Chak chak chak! It’s as if I was slicing vegetables on a cutting board. No more discrete photography.

That was followed by the awkward motion of changing lenses. If anything, that would be the biggest drawback of DSLRs – while changing lenses, there’s a chance of dust getting on the sensor. & dust on the sensor causes spots to appear on photos. I’ve already had to use my blower a couple of times to get rid of them…

Another disadvantage is that until you can change lenses as fast as your shadow, time will not suspend itself. & that happened quite often as I changed the 18-55 for the 55-250 only for the subject to be gone (or the scene change) before I could take the shot. One alternative is to have only one lens on the body, like the 18-200 which covers the whole zoom range. Of course, that isn’t a cheap solution.

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The best feature of DSLRs are the controls. ISO, exposure compensation, aperture, AF control, white balance, shooting mode – everything within the grasp of your thumb. It’s so easy to change settings on the fly.

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However, I do find one thing missing on the 600D. It doesn’t have the scroll wheel which I absolutely love on my S100. Moving through pictures with the direction keys is a pain on the thumb.

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There’s also the Menu & Options keys that are positioned on the opposite side, forcing two-handed use.

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The 600D like the 60D has an articulated screen. & it’s absolutely wonderful for doing various shots from the ground. Though, it means I can’t put glass screen protectors on it otherwise it won’t close. So I went with film screen protectors. The UI is ok, but I do think they could have improved on it…

 

Photos

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The depth of field. I think that’s what gets everyone hooked on DSLRs. With my very first shot, I realised the compositional freedom I had to frame my subjects. There’s absolutely no comparison with compacts. I’ve never really ventured into portraits with my compacts, but the shallow DOF I get with the 55-250 makes me want to go out & shoot people…

Of course, the first thing that jumps to the eyes when pixel peeping is the dynamic range. Followed by the sharpness of the images. But what pleased me most was the grain. Even while shooting at high ISO, the grain is natural, not some blocky multicoloured pixels. The 600D can easily do up to ISO 6400 which is acceptable & even pleasant (if you’re into uploading to Instagram).

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If you look at the above photos, I think there’s no doubt that there’s a gigantic leap in quality between the S100 & the 600D. I have absolutely no regrets purchasing them. Yeah, both of them.

The 600D has an 18MP APS-C sensor with a crop factor of 1.6x. Which is why the focal length of 18-55mm is actually more like 29-88mm (this is not correct explanation, but I’m going with that for simplification), while the 55-250 is closer to 88-400mm, which is massive! I’ve already had so many OMG moments with the 250mm. Like the first time I shot a sugarcane field & saw workers in there that I would have never seen with my naked eyes. Or when I observed the rotation of the Earth while staring at the full moon…

Hence, that’s why the 55-250 is now my walkabout lens. I don’t use the 18-55 a lot, because the S100 already has a wider angle 24mm. In low-light no-tripod conditions, it’s no surprise that the S100 f.20 beats the 600D 18-55 f3.5. Until I get a prime lens that is…

 

Final thoughts

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Yes, I have zero regrets purchasing a DSLR over a PC. Which also means for the time being, I can’t shoot RAW because post-processing it will be too slow. The only thing I haven’t mentioned yet is battery life. On a single charge, it can easily do between 600-750 shots, which is more than enough. I never have to worry about running out of juice.

Given that I have an APS-C DSLR, I’m already thinking of the next evolution, that is Full Frame. Just kidding. Right now, I do badly need to work on my composition. I’m not talking only about experimenting with DOF. Using the 55-250 at all times is challenging as you can’t just go wide and start snapping away. & beyond that there’s so much more to learn – manipulating light using flashes, shooting manual, using filters, prime lenses, etc, etc.

The journey starts now. 🙂

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