I originally thought that doing a camera review on a cat blog is a bad idea but then I realized that my blog is just as much of a photo blog as it is cat blog and I am sure there are many other pet bloggers that are interested in photography.
My birthday is coming up in a couple of days and I am a hard person to buy for so my wife put it in my hands to find I gift that I would be happy with. So I decided it was time for a new DSLR camera. The camera that I had been using is a Canon EOS Rebel T1i. I got it for Christmas in 2009 and the way that technology advances it should be a dinosaur but, surprisingly, at 15.1 megapixels, it still takes better photos than any smart phone being sold today. Nevertheless, I think I could benefit from an upgrade.
I did somewhat upgrade my camera a couple of years ago. I bought a Canon EOS M1. It is a small, mirrorless, 18-megapixel camera that is not a DSLR but it does have interchangeable lenses. I like it because it takes excellent photos and because it is small, lightweight and much easier to carry around. I don’t like it because it takes way too long to focus. That is fine most of the time but try to get a cat to hold still for more than a second while the camera is focusing. There are several upgrades to the M series that probably corrected that problem and thought about upgrading that camera instead but chose the DSLR instead because it is more obsolete.
I looked around for a long time. I wanted a camera that was at least 24 megapixels but was also reasonably priced. I also wanted a Canon because I have lenses for it and because I have liked Canons since my dad gave me his Canon F1 in 1987.
It came down to the Canon EOS Rebel SL2 or the Canon EOS Rebel T7i. Both cameras had similar features and the T7i had some slight advantages but the SL2 was a bit smaller and lighter, which is helpful when you have to carry it around for a long time. It was also almost $200 less expensive which was a big plus for me.
I ordered the camera on Amazon and paid about $600 for it. The Rebel line is made for amateurs and is significantly less expensive than the pro version without much, if any, loss of picture quality. I think the main difference is in how rugged the camera is built but this will be my third Rebel since 2005 and I never once had a problem with any of the cameras.
Naturally, I wanted to test it out so I spied Frankie lying on the floor.
I always set the camera to shoot RAW + Jpeg. This takes up more room but allows me to view all my photos easily and the RAW format gives me more options when editing the photos. I want to say that I then erase any RAW file that I know Is not top quality to save room but I usually forget that step or I am rushed and don’t bother doing it. I didn’t look at the settings until after I took the above photo but it came set up for just Jpeg so I had to change it later.
The camera comes with several options for scene selections and other things but I won’t review those because I don’t use them. I use one of four settings:
- Program Auto Exposure – This sets the aperture and shutter speed automatically.
- Shutter Priority – Lets the Photographer select the shutter speed and the camera does the rest.
- Aperture Priority – This is like shutter priority except it is the aperture that is set by the Photographer.
- Manual – All settings are set by the Photographer.
My first Canon Rebel, the XT, was a fine camera but changing a setting was a laborious task. You had to fumble through various menus until you found what you were looking for. This camera has the main settings laid out on an easy to use touchscreen. In addition, the screen can be pulled out for viewing from different angles and then turned for protection when not in use.
I have had no opportunity to take this outside for a real-world test but I did take several photos of the cats. I was very impressed with how quickly it focused. There was no noticeable lag time between pushing the shutter release and hearing the sound of the mirror flipping up to take the photo. I’m sure it wasn’t instantaneous but it was fast. I also took several photos very quickly and had to wait for the camera to write them to the SD card. I was using a cheap, slow, memory card and was glad the camera had a large enough cache to accommodate it.
The photo below was taken in the morning before the sun came up so it was relatively low light. I had it set to fully programmable and it used a shutter speed of 1/13th of a second. Typically, I don’t like going below 1/30th of a second when hand holding a camera but, thanks to image stabilization, this photo is pretty sharp.
The fast focus also allows me to capture Chris while he is rolling around. It would have been pure luck to get this photo with my M1.
Another great feature is the Canon app that allows you to control the camera with your phone. The app lets you see what the camera sees and you can change settings or take the shot remotely. This is useful for group photos or maybe even for catching your pets being naughty.
Here is the photo of Floki that I took remotely.
The app has a couple of other features that I find even more useful. Since the camera does not have GPS, it can take GPS information from your phone and include it in your photos. It also allows you to download photos to your phone so you don’t have to wait until you get home to share your photos on social media.
I plan on taking this camera with me when we go away for my birthday. We are going to the east coast of Florida to visit my wife’s father. We booked a hotel on the beach and we hope to see nesting sea turtles. If we do, I can’t use a flash or other form of light to photograph them and since they only lay their eggs at night it could be a challenge.
What do you think? Do any pet bloggers use a DSLR for your photos? Would anyone be interested in a blog post on basic photography?