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Are Digital SLR Cameras Worth The Extra Cost?

Digital cameras have been on the market for several years and have come a long way in features and quality, but the one drawback still remains - the slight delay when you take the picture. It's not as bad as it used to be, but even a half second is far too long to capture the perfect facial expression or snap a shot of your child scoring the winning goal.

Digital SLR cameras eliminate this delay completely, and also provide an auto-shoot feature that lets you snap a few shots each second.

I highly recommend the Nikon D50 DSLR camera, which I have owned for about a year. It's available at Buy.com for about $500 (and here's a coupon link to save $15 on any camera purchase at Buy.com).

I also bought a SanDisk Ultra II SD 2GB Card that holds about 1100 pictures, and took the D50 to Disneyland with my family last year. We took hundreds of priceless shots with this camera, and never had to worry about timing the shot to account for a delay - because there is absolutely no delay. The D50 instantly captured the shot every time.

Yes, I think Digital SLR cameras are very much worth the extra cost! :)

The D50's a great camera. Many people knock it since it's an "entry-level" camera, but those are just tech snobs that all-too-often rely on fancy doo-dads to do those actions they don't know how to do.

The mantra you need to repeat to yourself now is, "good glass, good glass." Which means getting yourself good lenses for the camera. You will be surprised at how addictive various lenses will be.

If your kids are still in soccer you'll want at least a 70-210mm lens, and as they grow, most soccer shooters go up to a 300 or a 400mm lens. Look to buy used lenses, and to buy them from reputable retailers (www.keh.com, www.bhphotovideo.com).

As far as software, I need applications that can convert from RAW to jpg or tiff. I shoot RAW about half of the time, and only when the lighting is really bad and I know I'll have to do some post-processing in my imaging softare, or when I know I'll want to print the photo.

I use a couple of different applications, Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0, which provides the majority of the features I need from Photoshop, it just cuts out a few of the advanced features I never used.

On Windows I also use Pixmantec's Raw Shooter Essentials (http://www.pixmantec.com/). Adobe just bought Pixmantec so I don't know what will happen with their products, but I'm guessing the free version of Essentials will disappear now.

For my Mac I use Adobe's Lightroom. I'm very impressed with how fast this works, and I will seriously consider buying it when it is released near the end of the year. It'll depend on the cost. Consider trying RAW, but do not use the RAW conversion software that ships with the Nikon camera. I hear nothing but lots of swearing at that application.

Download Raw Shooter Essentials (before Adobe shuts it down) and use that application. If you go with RAW, be prepared to have memory cards galore. You will get about 110 photos on a 1 gig card shooting RAW.

If you want to really shell out the money for a pro-level conversion application, look at Capture One (http://www.phaseone.com/). I have a friend that swears by the application, but I just don't like it as much as the free stuff that does just as good a job, but requires a few more steps.

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