DSLR vs compact + GoPro

My short story
In November 2011 I bought Canon T2i, with 18-55 and 55-300 lens. After a couple days of playing I decided that I definitely need flip out screen. I looked at the Canon T3i but after the snapsort comparison article I turned to Nikon D5100. I bought a Nikon body and a Tamron 18-200 mm lens.

Why I chose Nikon D5100?
1.       Canon is stubborn enough not to make built in interval shooting option. They push consumers to buy external intervalometer which cost about 50$.  Interval shooting allows to shoot every 2, 5, 10…any… seconds. You can look at my time-lapse video made with Nikon (1:43).
2.       Nikon has another menu option - HDR (high dynamic range). With Canon you can do HDR only on computer. With Nikon you can do simple HDR right in your camera! Actually this is a nice option that influenced on my decision, but I do not use it often.   
3.       Nikon D5100 can focus while shooting video. (actually it is not true, Canon T2i can do it).
4.   Flip out screen.
5.       Nikon D5100 is much cheaper than Canon T3i.

It seems like Nikon have more options with better price, but...

The downside of using a Nikon
1.      With Canon (30D) I nearly forget about the last time I charged battery. Nikon battery is about 1/2 shorter. I had to buy an external battery grip which made my camera bigger, yet more uncomfortable.
2.       Nikon's smaller body is not an advantage! Canon body fits my big hand better. With battery grip it is still far behind Canon ergonomics.
3.      The shooting button have better position in Canon. You’ll never miss it. When I hand my Nikon camera to other people and ask to shoot me, 3 of 10 people get confused and push the wrong button.
4.      The Canon has a nice soft air filled rubber pad around viewfinder. The Nikon has a solid rubber and it can be easily lost (I did).
5.       Canon has better shutter sound. Stupid but I like it more than Nikon.
6.    (update) Shooting video you can change only exposure compensation in Nikon (wtf???) In Canon shutter, iris, iso change is available.

Looks like it is competition between number of options and ergonomics.

It is common for people to use at least two different lenses like 18-55 mm and 55-300 mm. However, I seriously get tired of changing lenses all the time! More over I get mad when dust gets inside the body and black dots suddenly appears on the blue sky. Being reporter you can miss much if you need to change lens! My preference is just one 18-200 mm lens for all. I was concerned about losing additional 100 mm (200-300 range) but the visual difference is not significant! I prefer Tamron because it is cheap and has 6 years warranty. Nikon (Canon) lens are extremely expensive.

Do you need DSLR camera? (Digital Single Lens Reflex)
Comparing pictures 1, 2, 3, ought to show that good pictures are made with the head, rather than a camera! Considering light, angle, position of the object and camera, zoom can make bigger differences than what type of camera you use! If you do not care about shutter speed, iris, iso, focal length just buy compact camera. If seek a professional look (to earn money it is highly recommended to have "professional" impression), low light shooting, quick shooting (sports), macro pictures; if you think deeper than "pressing button", can see things in creative way, have time to study, money to spend on equipment and willingness to overcome difficulties (i.e. going to marry your photography hobby ) then DSLR should be your camera.

Sometimes DSLR size makes me mad! It is huge compared to compact camera. You can not take it anywhere with being noticed! It bothers me all the time. I always need a special case for it. Although the shutter noise is pleasant, it always diminishes candid moments. If you already have a good compact camera – invest some exploring its features. If you cannot implement your visual thoughts with the lesser camera, then I suggest to BORROW a better camera for a couple of days. Some people are very happy taking pictures with smartphone (iPhone)!

My previous article about DSLR vs compact camera (in Russian language).

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Addition April 28

GoPro cons:
- No viewfinder or LCD screen (available as an option 70$)
- No zoom
- Two buttons only
- Bad sound, 
- Unfriendly menu (Hero2 - much better), 
- Bad photo or video in the dark. 

GoPro pros:
- Water, shock prof
- Mounts
- Video and image quality (on good light conditions)
- Lightweight (without LCD)

GoPro is highly specific and NARROW use camera! If you do not know when and how to use it (before purchase) - you do not need it!!! GoPro videos are about the same quality as DSLR does. The trick is in possible extreme usage of GoPro. Funny GoPro video.

You still want it? Thus you know how you will use it! Good luck and have fun!

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  1. I love the post. Photos are indeed mead with hands and head and not with the camera you have! :)

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