Professional-level results? Entry-level DSLRs

September 16, 2011

Canon EOS 1100D and Nikon D3100

Image: The entry-level offerings from Canon and Nikon fitted with the more professional Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L and Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lenses

Many enthusiast photographers look on in envy at the images taken by ‘professional’ photographers, and assume that only prohibitively expensive gear can produce such results. However, this is something of a misapprehension because, on most occasions, the results are down to the skill of the photographer. The humble entry-level DSLR is just as capable of producing ‘professional’-quality images, and at a lower cost, which can only be a good thing in these days of VAT rises, scrimping and saving.

To illustrate their ability to produce professional-quality images, I looked at Canon’s EOS 1100D and Nikon’s D3100 budget entry-level DSLRs. Both have a street price of around £450 with a kit lens, compared to around £1,500 for their APS-C-format counterparts, such as the Canon EOS 7D and Nikon D7000. Not only are the 1100D and D3100 much less expensive, but they’re also compatible with a wide selection of top-quality optics. Furthermore, the resolution of the sensors in entry-level models now equate to those once fitted to professional models, such as the Nikon D2X, a mere five years ago. In essence, the imaging sensors in the likes of the 1100D and D3100 are good enough to produce high-quality results so long as the camera is paired with a good lens.

I pitched these leading entry-level DSLRs against each other, looking at the applications that are most suitable in a professional context, which camera best accommodates the professional, and finally, which model offers most scope for nurturing and developing professional skills.

Nikon D3100 sample image
Canon EOS 1100D sample image

Images: The sensors of both the Canon EOS 1100D and Nikon D3100 are capable of resolving a good level of detail. Using a 50mm prime lens provides a good perspective, sharp focus and shallow depth of field, which are all ideal for food photography.