And now, for a merely semi-organized bunch of thoughts on D-SLR shooting.Follow along at your own peril...this ain't outlined,just off-the cuff stuff...
I recently got an e-mail from a professional photographer who's planning on retiring soon, and he opined that he thought the camera wasn't all that important. Since he's now a digital photographer using the Fuji S2 as his digital solution, his current definition of camera is the same as mine--namely, the camera is a D-SLR. My FILM cameras are Nikons, or Bronica's, or my ancient Linhof Color 4x5 which is a pretty low-end and old,solid,cheap,monorail with only limited movements, but it's light and small enough for field work and it's payed for. The Bronica SQ-M system is built around a motor-integral 120 rollfilm body, with both a waist level finder and a metering prism,65,80,and 150 lenses, some 6x6 120 backs, a 645 120-J back,a Polaroid back, and a few other do-dads. As a wedding camera, the SQ-M may be large, but it's very simple and quite reliable, and plain vanilla SQ or SQ-A non-motorized bodies are very available for almost no money these days.But you know what? I have almost no use for 35mm film, or 120 film, or 4x5 film any longer. I just don't WANT to shoot my pictures using film.To me, today, "camera" is synonymous with digital SLR.
So, does the D-SLR one uses "matter"? Is the "camera important" to the photographic results one is able to achieve? Could one photographer achieve the same results with more than one,different camera model? Is one particular camera model "that" much better than another camera model under some,most,or all circumstances? I don't mean to be flippant, and these are genuine questions.These are in fact just a few of the questions every experienced photographer ought to ask himself when he selects a camera model. Cameras are a KEY part in the photographic process. Without a camera, you are not going to be taking ANY photos. The lens may be equally as important as the camera is, but let's stick to cameras. In today's world of the digital SLR camera, the camera is both the light-tight box and the lens-holding device, AND it also serves as our Digital Film,if you will.Each D-SLR comes with just one sensor inside it,and that's the brand and size of "film" you will always use with that particular camera.Oh,sure, the manufacturer may,occasionally, come up with some firmware update which might allow you to tweak an extra few percent out of a camera's Digital Film, but realistically, each different D-SLR model is two things: 1-It is its own camera model, and 2-It is its own Film.
So,let's look at the camera features that actually matter the most.In the days when pictures were always shot on film, improvements in film meant new imaging possibilities.ASA 10 Kodachrome and Super-XX Pan film are decades removed from today's high-speed films. Many color films today are vastly better than their 1970's and 1980's predecessors. A three- or four-decade old Nikon can deliver superlative image quality when loaded with any one of today's superlative films, but a D-SLR will shoot with the sensor it came with until that sensor is done for.
So--does the D-SLR "matter"? Yes, I think it does. Quite a bit sometimes, and other times, less so,but the answer is almost always ,"Yes." I would never dream of shooting a sports event with say, the Fuji S1 Pro or the EOS D30 as my main camera. Both are too old,and both have poor AF systems, small buffers, and in general are really quite old technology cameras. In contrast, for daytime sports in decent lighting, the Nikon D1 of the SAME age as an S1 or a D30, could STILL be used for a successful sports photography outing,with decent AF, decent buffer, and image quality in almost direct proportion to the quality of the lighting. With the original D1 in RAW mode, captures are about 3.8 megabytes per file, at 4.5 fps, with a buffer of around 21 frames in RAW mode. Not too shabby.
Moving to the next generation of cameras (the D1,S1,and D30 were all more or less contemporaries), the Nikon D1h and the Fuji S2 Pro and the EOS D60, for action photography the D1h simply kicked ASS on the D60 or the S2 as far as action photography. The D60 was a short-lived camera (what was it-eight months??) which had a lot of AF problems,and which Canon quickly quit producing in favor of the EOS 10D model.In action photography, response speed of the camera is a huge factor in fruitful shooting,and the D1h offered a fast AF system,deep buffer, fast mirror return times,and short shutter lag times,as well as a good viewfinder system. The Fuji S2 offered almost none of the D1h's attributes:it has a slowish AF system when using any of the sensors except the central sensor, it has sluggish AF performance with screw-drive AF Nikkors,it has a shallow buffer,a slow mirror,long shutter release lag time,and a poor,squinty,slightly inaccurate viewfinder.However, the Fuji S2 offered higher image quality than the D1h could, thus making the S2 into quite a cult camera. The S2 had/has a very lovely,deep,workable file,especially in when the S2 was shot in raw mode. Sure, the S2's raw files were bloated and over 12 megabytes each,and the Fuji raw conversion software sucked at first,and was slow,and did not offer tone mapping, but the PICTURES the Fuji S2 Pro made were very,very good. As long as the camera was able to get the subject into focus. And as long as absolutely split-second timing was not an absolute criteria on shot after shot after shot.And as long as one could work with the software deficiencies and limitations.
And then along came Adobe with its ACR or Adobe Camera RAW converter software.Tone mapping was finally available to Fuji shooters (Nikon had had it before Adobe offered it),and the finally Adobe's complete conversion of Fuji raw files added great utility and value for Fuji S2 raw shooters. We have to keep in mind that,until very recently, raw conversion of files was not the happy shopping grounds that it is today...not that long ago, raw conversions meant headaches galore,and limited options. Now, we have more companies and more S/W apps than ever before,with a wide range of prices,with some suprisingly good-performing apps available as freeware. The bottom line was, and still is that we need SOFTWARE to absolutely maximize our D-SLR camera and its performance, and some cameras come with vastly better software than others do. If a camera you are interested in has good third-party raw conversion software available, that's a plus. If you however, wish to shoot in JPEG mode, then you might want to consider a camera that gives good out of camera JPEG renditions.
This is where things get contentious.Straight-out-of-camera jpeg quality and beauty is the ground the Fuji D-SLR camp has long staked claim to.And while I will concede that well-exposed S2 and S3 JPEG images look nice, I think that almost EVERY exposure,and I mean every exposure, can be made to benefit from two,or three very,very quick and easy adjustments in a full-featured image editing program like Photoshop, or Adobe Camera RAW, or Nikon Capture, or Bibble, or Canon's DPP software which comes free with Canon D-SLR's. I own and have shot Fuji,Canon,and Nikon D-SLR's,and feel that with any camera in JPEG mode, any image I make can be improved by,for example,minutely adjusting the Curves,which can be a two- to ten-second adjustment most times. I am willing to adjust my images this way almost every time I shoot anything even remotely 'serious'. Menaing, I want to shoot in raw mode, and am willing to adjust my final image's appearance in a full-featured RAW converter application (happy to,in fact). I know that by shooting in RAW mode, or RAW+simultaneous in-camera JPEG,I am keeping my potential image quality as high as is humanly possible. Now that ACR and Photoshop CS-2 are part of my workflow options,as well as Nikon Capture for the D70 and the D2x, out of camera JPEG quality is of very little concern to me. Frankly, I feel that ACR makes a MUCH more-beautiful BATCH conversion than the D2x can achieve.
Somebody recently offered a recipe for beautiful out of camera skin tones from the D2x. The answer isn't that complicated: Use Nikon Capture 4.3.2 to set the WB precisely as you would like the images to look.Create and paste a WB to all images you want to be considered sets or sub-sets. Then,simply batch convert the RAW files to JPEGs using ACR,and be prepared for some beautiful skin tones.Adobe's default interpretation of the D2x when shot with even a half-decent white balance for prevailing light is surprisingly good. Nikon Capture is easily the best and most-efficient way to set precise WB for Nikon D2x NEF files.What I like about NC is the way it allows me to adjust multiple image parameters on RAW files, and allows me to save my changes without increasing the native size of my RAW images. Adobe treats RAW images as read-only,and that sucks! Nikon Capture doesn't force me to make a 69 megabyte,16-bit TIF file in order to have a high-quality, "adjusted" file. Nikon Capture can be used to adjust the RAW files with no increase in the file size,and with the adjusted files being saved in the same format as they came out of the camera; that also means the adjustments applied in Nikon Capture can be passed along to ACR when in its batch-conversion mode.And of course, the same adjustments are visible to Nikon Capture in its batch-conversion mode. What this means is that Nikon D-SLRs offer their owners the ability to FINE-TUNE their RAW captures with exposure adjustments (like +.64 for a whole series of twenty images,let's say) and a WB matching pasted to all 20 images, all with NO PENALTY in terms of hard drive storage space,or CD-ROM or DVD storage space. With Nikon's NEF files and Nikon Capture,the RAW files can be modified,easily, at leisure,and then batch conversions done with either NC or ACR or Bibble or RSE. This is a great feature of Nikon Capture software.And, of Nikon cameras.
Canon....hmm...the free but surprisingly capable Canon RAW converter software DPP does a pretty good job of allowing intuitive,simple,easy file handling.Fairly fast too! It's what Fuji ought to aspire to--something as capable and as easy to use and as well thought-out as DPP. Canon...the noise-reduction champions. My only Canon is the 20D,and I am impressed with how clean its images are up to ISO 800. I prefer to work right at or around ISO 400. Canon's ISO ratings are conservative,with both 400 and 800 being SOLIDLY and EASILY what they purport to be,and not less-sensitive. I am very impressed with the image quality of the 20D at ISO 400 and to a lesser extent ISO 800. Canon's in-camera,pixel-level noise reduction at ISO 1600 delivers pretty decent images,right off the card. Not so the D2x at Hi-1,or more or less equivalent to ISO 1600. According to one of the prestigious web sites, the 20D at 1600 is actually ISO 2000, while the D2x is ISO 1600. Seems that way to me too--the Canon images are a little bit "brighter" and better-exposed at the same speeds and f/stops compared to the D2x when both are used at ISO 800.Still, I like to work at 400 ISO most often. I don't care about a small amount of noise at 400,since it build shutter speed and helps to reduce the actual amount of flash needed for each exposure,speeds flash recycle time, boosts flash reach, and picks up simply "More Ambient" light in the background. Shooting flash at ISO 400 might seem counter-intuitive to some, but if conditions will allow it, it brings with it many benefits. Mainly in flash reach, and in flash output needed, and thus, flashes per change and flash recycling times. In dim,darkened rooms,I don't like needing to discharge my flash almost fully just to make a decent exposure-- when by boosting the ISO to 400, I can tone down that flash blast by two full f/stops' worth. That's a lot less annoying a flash burst, and more flash bursts per charge, with dramtically speeded up recyle potential between flashes. If you need to shoot sequential action and stop it with flash, if your camera allows it, using ISO 800 might make sense,particulalrly if you don't want to use an external battery system of some type. If you have one, the shoe-mount Nikon SB800 flash with the 5th 1.5volt AA battery installed is a suprisingly capable and fast-shooting flash option. That fifth battery really speeds things up and allows very ,very quick 2- and 3-shot motor-driven sequences to be shot with the D2x. Not just pop-wait-pop, but at the speed of the motor at closer indoor distances.At ISO 100,125,160,200,250,320,400,500,640,800, and Hi-1 and Hi-2.Notice that, the third-stop ISO capability of the D2x?
Third-stop ISO control is to me, a really nice feature,and one of the best ways to zero-in on the perfect,perfect exposure with digital SLR cameras. I'm old enough and well-schooled enough in exposure calculation and small product photography to have always converted my bellows factor and flash exposures using image size divided by object size,squared as my bellows factor,and I've then used that in conjunction with a calculator to revise my ASA's for my light meter, and then to take flash exposure readings at the bellows-factor-corrected ISO. ANd so,I'm old enough also to have been around for the Vivitar 283 and 285 flash units,and with AUTO-mode flash control,as well as the first Nikons using TTL control. In many ways, I prefer AUTO-mode flash control to TTL,and when using AUTO-mode flash, one of the key capabilities is the abvility to precisely regulate the f/stop and the ASA/ISO. Refinements in exposure can be made using the ISO variation ability of a good,modern camera,when using both flash and ambinet exposures. A camera which offers ONLY full-stop ISO adjustments is a creative and technical liability when it comes to the ultimate in exposure control. Often times, one will find that a little "boost" in exposure is needed--often an extra third-stop of ISO boost will make a particular flash/f-stop or f/stop and shutter speed combo give consistently better,brighter,more-lively looking exposures.That's when it's a Godsend to be able to boost the ISO a third stop,or maybe even 2/3 stop.Not that it's a deal-breaker, but sometimes it is....late in the day with a sports/nature type lens you must shoot with the lens wide-open (f/2.8 let's just say) to maintain a decent,motion-stopping shutter speed of say 1/1000 second. As the shadows begin to draw longer,the first path is notching the ISO up to 500, then 640,then 800, just to maintain the needed shutter speed. With the D1h, one could move from 800 to 1000 ISO,and then to 1250 and 1600. As you can see, the D1h and D2h and D2Hs models use a 1/3 step exposure system,whereas the Canon 20D offers full stop jumps of 200-400-800-1600. I would much,much rather have precise, 1/3 stop exposure control thru ISO shifting for both flash and sports/action or low-light shooting. The ability to fine-tune exposure is valuable; the ability to boost effective exposure in one-third increments can many times, be very,very handy.I am glad that since the 20D only offers full-stop ISO setting, that its ISO sensitivity is actaully a bit higher than the specified settings it does have.Having an ISO 800 that is actually around 1000 and a 1600 that's actually around 2000 is a good thing. This is all camera stuff. Basic nuts and bolts control system stuff. To some people,the ability to precisely regulate exposure to withing 1/3 or 2/3 of a stop with both the lens aperture and the ISO is a nice touch,and very much appreciated. Some of us even like the ability to adjust shutter speeds in 1/3 stop increments. Some people are happy with coarse, 1/2 stop controls or 1-Stop control increments. A lot of this depensd on how finely one wants to adjust his exposures. Some cameras offer very precise control,while others offer much coarser controls. Not all cameras are created equal.
But what about the concept that a D-SLR is not only one's camera, but also one's "Film"? This is growing lengthy. While a camera's sensor is the "film", I suppose digital post production in software is analogous to the developing and printing parts under the film process analogy we've been using.Using the film analogy,I think most people are aware that D-SLR manufacturers have gooten their color reproduction to be more accurate and more true-to-life as each new generation of cameras have come onto the market. Looking at color chart tests over the last five years, and looking at average delta e data from Popular Photography and Imaging magazine over the same period, I can see that D-SLR color ACCURACY is now higher than it has ever been.
Accurate color is not the same as pleasing color, and however one likes his image colors is a personal matter. Fuji's color palette is often prasie for its beutifully wonderful, Fuji-color palette. it's not as accurate as Canon or Nikon's typical color, but then, who wants accurate color,right?
Color can be adjusted quite a bit, and accurate, by-the-numbers color reproduction while the goal of many product photographers,is often not what fine art or portrait or wedding people want to see. Overly-saturated,jazzed, rich, pumped-up, vibrant,highly-saturated, overly-warm, overly-red, whatever,take your pick...a lot of times, people like color that is NOT "accurate". Pleasing color. Olympus and Fuji have different ideas than what Nikon and Canon appear to hold in regard to color.Color is affected tremendously by White Balance,as well as by post-production editing using various controls.A camera's white balance system can make or break the camera.White Balance is usually poorest under indoor or other types of artificial lighting,and best under natural outdoor daylight. Many D-SLR's do poorly in AUTO white balance mode when used under artifical lighting, but acceptably well and acceptably consistently under daylight.Some cameras allow mutliple WB settings to be held in Memory AND also allow using a WB from any one photo stored on the CF card in the camera. Others have ONE customizable,pre-settable WB option and a handful of canned defaults white balances. The higher the degree of customization and adjustment a camera's WB system allows, the more-sophisticated the camera can be perceived as being.Not that sophistication is a great thing in and of itself; there is something to be said for a limited but useful range of simple,easy variations in camera controls, such as the Fuji S2's simple three-position choices of Original or OFF, Standard, and then High or Hard (in other words a 1-2-3 choice system). Applied to Color Saturation, you could choose Original or LOW Color saturation, Standard, or HIGH color saturation. Same with the tone curve,or the contrast: low-standard-high,pick your contrast, and the same with In-amera SHarpening-OFF,Standard, and HIGH sharpening choices. Very easy,very logical,fairly limited choices. But always easy to make! And easy to check while shooting.ANd, with a surprisingly good AUTO White Balancing system,as well as a 2-memory pre-set Custom WB capability. In contrast to the S2's simple choices over image adjustment, we have the D2x with a zillion custom function choices, parameter adjustments galore, page after page of menu choices. THank the lord for the D2x's RECENT SETTINGS MENU, which shows the most recently adjusted 14 settings in each of the banks. I wish the D2x could be user-programmed with fewer menu pages and fewer options which could accidentally be mis-set. I would gladly trade a bank or two for the ability to pre-load more than one custom curve to the camera at a time.
Still, the "film" part of one's d-slr...the film is all pretty good at the lower ISOs. RAW image files are remarkably pliable from the various cameras, with the EOS 20D,Fuji S2, and the Nikon D1h and D2x files having pretty good "workability" when handled with "good" software.Now that we've finally gotten to "excellent" raw conversion software within the last two years on a more widespread basis across the manufacturer lines of software, Canon,Fuji,and Nikon all have good,deep image file manipulation capability. Nikon Capture leads the way in technical prowess among the above trio,but is slow and inefficient and slightly crash-prone still in my experience,especially under heavy workload. Still,for simple operations, Nikon Capture performs quite well, but still needs some bug fixes. Adobe Camera Raw under PS CS-2 performs simply wonderfully these days,and has the added beenfit of allowing you to custom-tailor the converter's performance in relation to a particular lens,or camera. It's also fast, stable,and cross-camera capable.
So,now,here we are. We want a D-SLR. It's going to be our camera. And our film.There are currently 20 D-SLR models on the market.That's a lot of choices.Some of the newest models offer good,large viewfinder images with high magnification levels. ONe of the very-newest trends seems to be the development of image magnification auxillary exepieces which thread in, magnifying the viewfinder's image size by 1.2x to 1.7x roughly. Nikon has one, and Olympus has just this week announced its entry into this niche.For many people, the size,clarity,apparent distance,or the eye relief ofered by a particular camera means the difference between easy,carefree shooting, and pain-in-the-ass shooting.Size isn't the most important quality in the viewfinder experience,nor is brightness; at best it is a three- or four-part combination of brightness,apparent magnification, contrast,and one other factor thrown in,depending on the shooter. Viewfinders are hard to describe by the numbers, but suffice it to say,you'll know a good finder image when you eventually see one in person.
So,back to the promise to look at the camera features that matter the most. What about that? What about the LCD image, the histogram, the buffer, the sensor, the flash system, and all that--what matters the MOST? What are the camera features that matter the most? The answers depend in large part on how,and what, you shoot. If you want expanded highlight dynamic range, Fuji's S3 Pro seems to be the very best. If you want incredible shadow detail, the Nikon D2x does a stellar job of preserving shadow details, but the D2x will not tolerate sloppy point and shoot-like 'technique'. If you want to take a lot of images in an economical compressed RAW mode, the Nikon D70s has a very small RAW file size due to smart compression. If you want a half-height camera which can accept an accessory grip with dual battery capacity and a vertical shutter release, the EOS 20D,EOS 5D,and the Konica-Minolta Maxxum 7D,as well as the Nikon D200 will all fit the bill; half-height cameras with accessory battery grips are nice.
All in all, I think that the D-SLR one shoots with actually DOES matter, at least somewhat. None of the current offerings are 100 percent perfected,and all bring with them compromises. D-SLR production is just getting into full stride now, and development has been constrained by engineering and manufacturing constraints,so it's reasonable to expect that as new models are released, that some of the problems will be corrected. Right now, I see no "perfect" D-SLR's, but I do see a good number of flaws and limitations and compromises which have been deliberately engineered into many of the models on the market today. As 2006 wears on,I expect several new D-SLR models to hit the streets.What "matters" the MOST in a camera is the FIT of the camera to the photographer. If you wear eyeglasses and want to shoot with them, then the VIEWFINDER and its eye relief and usability are,I think,absolutely paramount. A camera with a good eye relief, in the 22-25mm range is a huge benefit if you wear eyeglasses and if the camera actually FITS you. And when I say the "fit",I mean the actual camera has to feel good and to fit with your hands,face,and viewing eye,and with YOU.Ergonomics are one thing...fit is more than ergonomics..if a camera "fits" you, it doesn't matter what size it is or what brand. If an Olmpus OM-1 or a Leica M3 fits you, you're one type. If a Canon F1(n) or a Nikon F3 with MD4 fits you, or if an EOS 1 feels good, or if you like the sixe and heft of an F4 or F5, then a bigger camera like a EOS 1D Mark II or a Nikon D2x might feel right at home.If a smaller,half-height camera feels good, the Pentaxes, the two Konica-Minolta's 5D or 7D might be nice,as well as the D50,D70,or EOS 20D might be the ticket. If you like F-mount lenses, the Fuji S2 or Fuji S3 deliver a nice,warm,vivid color palette and pretty good IQ potential,especially with the S3.
Over the decades, only select FEW specific cameras models have been used by the majority of the top shooters.Rolleiflex,Leica III series,then post-WWII the redouibtable Leica M3, the Hasselblad 500C then 500C/M, Nikon F-F2-F3, Canon F1,F1(n),T90,EOS 1,EOS 1D, EOS 1Ds.Those would be some of the "small format" cameras of the 20th century. During any era, the vast,vast majority of the top talent has shot the SAME camera. In LA,in Tokyo,Shanghai,Boston,or Montreal...top people, same camera. It's like that. The best have always gravitated to the best,or the easiest,or the most-reliable,or the most functional,and so on. The classic camera models have served tens of thousands of photographers. Snapshooters of each era have had their cameras as well,as have serious hobbyists and devoted amateurs. So, even today there are the same distinctions--three levels of D-SLR, top,middle,and introductory level. If you need a top model, buy one. If you want a mid-priced unit,buy one,and if you're not sure you want a D-SLR that costs more than a thousand pieces of silver, then buy an intro-level model with its own mfr's suplied kit lens and be very,very happy with the deal you get. The built-in film supply in any new D-SLR is worth well over an estimated $20,000 in E-6 slide film and processing before shutter failure becomes even a remote possibility.The built-in film supply you get when you buy a D-SLR is pretty nifty.It makes sense to not pay too awful much money for a body at this current point in time...the Nikon D200 looks like the absolute,total value leader in the mid-class category,while the now low-end has good cameras from all the major parties,with no clear-cut,single winner in terms of value. The top shelf cameras always cost the MOST money, but offer the most-advanced camera body features of their era, and these cameras always have the best kind of "film" their manufacturer can make.
There's a new trend now...pre-defined settings,canned pre-sets if you will,which attempt to deliver varying "looks" to the camera's output. The Nikon D50 and the EOS 5D are two examples of new models which are attempting to move D-SLR's more toward images tailored to have a certain "look", something a bit more appealing that the digital output many early D-SLR's gave. While some have disdain for 'canned' image parameter adjustment sets, I actually feel that the Nikon D70's Landscape setting looks great on portraits done using natural,green backdrops,and have also been very impressed with some of the amazing fill-flash capabilities the Nikon D70 with its 1/500 flash synch and i-TTL system can give when allowing the camera to make MOST of the decisions.I think pre-programmed "looks",to use Kodak's terminology,are going to be appearing more and more,and with better results in the intro- and mid-point D-SLR models.
If you wonder which exact model out of the 20 on the market might be the best, a trip to a really LARGE camera store is the best place to go. Failing that, a trip to a neighborhood or a regional camera store is in order.The key is to establishing "fit" is to hold and handle and trial the cameras. Be open-minded. But be attentive to what fits and what almost fits or what does NOT fit. Try out four or five models,if possible. If you have no brand allegiance or favorite, compare Canon against Nikon and be sure to try Konica-Minolta if you can. There is no substitute for handling real,live cameras,loaded with batteries and storage card,and ready to SHOOT. Buy from a camera store,not a discounter,unless you're an expert.Again, half-height cameras versus in-built vertical grip models is a huge part of "fit",and it makes a huge difference to how a camera handles if it has a dedicated grip mounted, or if that same grip is off the body and stowed back in the car or aboard ship.Dual-battery grips can allow you to shoot as many as ,say,3,800 frames before needing to swap out the two small,light batteries.
The high-tech, serious amateur/semi-professional cameras like the EOS 20D, Nikon D200,K-M 7D,and the good Olympus are all targeted at a serious,dedicated buyer who knows what he/she wants,and who also expects a pretty good bang-for-dollar in terms of an all-around camera. Each camera however,offers some unique selling proposition which other models do not offer. Same with the Fuji S3--it offers a unique selling proposition, but is not in the same high-tech class as the more mainstream, ONE-manufacturer cameras are, being a hybrid camera that's not as high-tech as the newer Nikon cameras with the D200 and D2x representing very high-tech feature sets.
If you don't think the camera matters much,then it doesn't matter which camera you select. If the camera matters to you,and you feel that everybody needs to see the advantages a particular camera,so be it. If you think that one feature or one particular strength makes a certain camera the best for you, then by all means,buy that camera. If a camera does not "fit" you, then do not buy it.Keep in mind that D-SLR's are fairly new, and not all of the bugs are worked out yet.There are new-fangled Dream Features to tempt even the most resolute film holdouts. What's most important to keep in mind when buying a D-SLR is the fact that it's not only your camera, it is also your film.RIght now we are entering an age of rapidly improving camera and film technology--it might make sense now more than ever to not spend a large amount on any one single camera,and to consider what 2006 might have in store.