The Rise and Fall of the SLR

I first thought of buying an SLR when the Nikon Coolpix I was using no longer met my needs. It hemmed and hawed after a photo was taken before bringing it up on the display and low light images were grainy and a poor recreation of the actual scenes that were photographed.

But soon after the idea was seeded, I went to college and while I was there, I could only fantasize about all the wonderful things I could have done with an SLR as there was no money to buy it. So as soon as I graduated from college and got a job I invested in a Nikon D5000 camera.

It was the perfect camera. It could capture 3 photos in a second, low light images were much better than the coolpix and the best part was it captured images in RAW format and could be edited using Nikon’s software to make the images resemble the scene that was captured.

To get around the low light issue, I purchased a F1.8 Nikon lens which made low light photographs better. And then I got a sigma 18–250mm zoom lens which helped capture people unobserved and resulted in excellent portrait shots with a good bokeh effect.

For 3 years I took it everywhere I went and used it extensively.

A tiger sighted during a wild life safari
A couple holding hands against a lighted building

And then I started falling out of love with it. First problem was carrying it while traveling on flights. Flights never allowed more than a single hand baggage which meant either my laptop or the camera had to go into the check-in and neither could. Even when flights started allowing laptop + 1 baggage, it meant lugging around 3 kilos on my shoulder during transit stops.

Second was the time from idea to action. It was impossible to take a quick shot unless you are already shooting. Otherwise you had to open the bag, take the camera out , put the sling around your neck, switch it on, remove the lens cover and take the shot. This caused more delay than my nikon coolpix which was ready in 2 seconds after a shot.

Third was the amount of processing required before the photos could be shared. The RAW images had to be edited, converted to JPEG’s and uploaded to photo sharing site. Those events that I shot took so much time to make its way to the photo sharing site that people often forgot about them.

And Finally, my mobile phone camera today is so much better at capturing most situations. Although the photo is still inferior to what my SLR could produce the always available nature of my phone, point and shoot ability and immediate share-ability combine to make it a better end to end experience than the SLR.

These days, I take my SLR only when I am certain of using it, such as a trip to a wild life sanctuary or a party that I have promised to cover. It is far better to invest in a mobile with a good camera for most of the photographic needs of the average user.

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