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October 16th 2011 9:39 pm

Should I buy a DSLR? If so, what?

So I've been mulling over this for some time. My NEX-5, which is my only interchangeable-lens camera at the moment, is decent. It takes some good pictures in my limited hands, although I'm left often wanting a viewfinder for the sort of picture-taking I do use it for. And to be honest, the vast majority of my picture-taking is done by my compact cameras. So the Sony comes out for 'proper pictures' - such as they are - and I've started to think that I can probably tolerate a bigger camera without it cramping my usage pattern.

And while I did have a quick fondle of a Leica S2 not that long ago, I realise that I have to beat down my inner gadget-dork and not go overboard on this thing, mainly because I've thrown money down the drain on this many times before, have learned my lesson (I hope) and I'd like to avoid a repeat for a camera which really will not be used that often, but still have a place in my lineup. So budget-wise we're talking somewhere around the range of the 5DS Mark II absolute max - i.e. <$3.5K with a reasonable do-it-all short-zoom lens to get started with, and I'm even questioning that at the moment. Definitely no more, and really more ideally somewhere around the $2K mark, once again with a reasonable short zoom.

What am I looking for with a potential move to a bigger camera?
- Better image quality than the NEX-5.
- More lens flexibility. I know the NEX lenses have been extended as of late and you can buy adapters, but I'd like to see more / potentially higher-grade native glass availability.
- Proper viewfinder. I like the idea of a high-res LCD or OLED viewfinder in terms of seeing exactly what I'm going to do
- But at the same time, as or close to usable as the NEX-5 in terms of someone who doesn't actually have a lot of talent photo-wise, and really prefers to leave everything on 'auto' while leaving the window open for usable full manual control.
- I'd obviously also like to see a high quality build generally speaking.

If the entry-level full-frame cameras offer drastically increased image quality, then it's something I'd consider at the $3 - $3.5K range, although alongside questions of usability.

I know that I will have to rebuild my lens collection, although I've noted with my use of the NEX that I don't really stray beyond short zooms in terms of general focal length range, although a good prime or two will probably be in reserve. The good thing of course is that I've no legacy lenses I want to keep so can go for any system. Once I'm happy with the camera + short zoom, I'll re-evaluate how I shoot and what glass I need for it.

Technologically I'm leaning towards the Sony SLT series in terms of the newly announced A77 and A65 right now - they appear to have a pretty compelling feature set, and seem to offer me exactly what I'm looking for - a 'prosumer' machine which appears still to be pretty auto-usable, has brand new tech in the form of the viewfinder and sensor (although as many know, brand new tech in the sensor field is a variable thing). However I'm not sure I want an A-mount camera, in terms of if that will be a liability...?

If you were in my shoes, what would you plump for and why?

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Man, I can't tell you what I would do to get my hands on any DSLR. I have been stuck with a point and shoot for way to long. If I had that price range, I would just buy one of the more expensive Canon or Nikon cameras.

Sorry I don't know more. . .
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