What DSLR should I buy?

Nikon D3300

Episode 1136

Brian from Winterhaven, FL

Brian's wife wants a DSLR for Christmas. Leo says that sensor size drives what camera he'll really want to get. The bigger the sensor, the more expensive it will be. And it will tend to be bigger and heavier. Leo has a Canon 5D Mk. II that he rarely uses because it's so heavy. That's why he likes mirrorless and micro four thirds cameras. They are every bit as good, but they don't have a prism or mirror. They are lighter and simpler.

What camera should I buy to record dancing?

Canon Vixia

Episode 1108

Chad from Portland, OR

Chad is a ballroom dancing choreographer and he wants to start recording his dances and archive them. He's trying to raise money for equipment on GoFundMe.com. He's looking to get a camera and he doesn't know if he should get a Canon 5D Mk. III or if there's a more affordable option that will give him broadcast quality. Leo suggests that if it's a live performance, he should record with multiple cameras to get close ups, medium shots, and establishing shots.

What camcorder should I get?

Canon Vixia

Episode 1099

John from Marvista, CA

John would like to get a camcorder. Leo says this is a dying category and since John is currently using a DSLR for still photography, upgrading his Canon Rebel to a new body like the T5i would be excellent for HD video. He also wouldn't have to carry more than one camera on his vacation. A point and shoot camera also offers good HD video as well. But if John really wants one, Leo uses the Canon Vixia models. They're very affordable, between $100-700.

What camera should I buy my wife?

Episode 1066

Kevin from Iowa

Kevin wants to get his wife a nice DSLR, but he's confused by the sensor sizes. Should he get CMOS or CCD? Leo says that all DSLRs have CMOS sensors now, and they come in various sizes; usually APS-C, full frame, or micro four-thirds sensors. The bigger the sensor, the more light it can take in. Naturally, full frame is more expensive and tends to be in professional grade cameras. But that doesn't mean that APS-C isn't good. It's great, especially for the hobbyist. Having more megapixels is also a good thing, but only to a point.

Chris Marquardt

Episode 1056

Chris Marquardt has been looking for a lighter, smaller camera to take on his Mount Everest tip and it's been quite the challenge to find something that will give him the performance he needs, but not weigh him down during the climb. And he didn't want to buy into a new system either. Then he found out about the Canon 100D/RebelSl1. An entry level DSLR, which Leo says looks like the Olympus OM1 or the Sony A7. Chris says it's a small, light weight, and the best part is that it uses his Canon lenses (with a 1.6x crop, of course).

What's the best DSLR for travel?

Olympus OM-D

Episode 963

Burt from Orange County, CA

Burt and his wife are traveling to Europe this year and he wants to get a DSLR. Leo says that Canon just announced two new cameras, the EOS T5i and the Rebel SL1, which Canon says is the world's smallest digital SLR. Leo, though, has recently switched to the mirrorless micro 4/3s format and he loves it. It's the Olympus OM-D. It's very thin and light, and he can have interchangeable lenses.

Chris Marquardt on Photography

Episode 954

Chris joins us to talk about sensor size in digital cameras. Is bigger better? Chris says that "full frame" sensors are the size of a frame of 35mm film. Digital sensors that size are expensive. Smaller sensors are far more cost effective for budget filmmakers. You pay a price with smaller pixels in that you get more noise in low light as camera makers stuff more pixels on smaller sensors, but smaller sensors have the advantage of making telephoto length appear larger. A 200mm lens on a full frame is just 200mm. On an APS-C, it could be a 300mm focal length.

What camera sensor is better, full frame or APS-C?

Pentax K-5 16.3 MP Digital SLR

Episode 954

David from Northridge, CA

David has a Pentax K5 camera, which has an APS-C sensor. Should he get a full frame sensor instead?

APS-C sensors are usually used on less expensive DSLRs because of their smaller footprint. Even though the APS-C may have the same number of pixels as a comparable full frame sensor, that's the difference. A full frame sensor will have better low light sensitivity. If he doesn't notice the difference, then it really isn't an issue for David.