I am thinking about getting a DSLR (either save a little and get a Nikon D3300 or get a Nikon D5500 — I really like the vary angle LCD thing and the fact it's lighter and has wifi built in... just more "future proof", which I know it wont be in a year :) )

I will not be buying any lens other than the kit AF-S DX 18-55mm VR II lens (on the D5500). I would intend to use the camera for astro shots at night, nature and general stuff. My current camera is a Canon SX 120 IS bridge camera.

Will the limited zoom and aperture of the DSLR kit lens really tie my hands, after coming from a point and zoom compact? I am just worried about taking the DSLR dive and finding it's not worth it unless I have three lenses. I would like a nice all-rounder, and progress in time after I learn and or feel the need.

Will I regret not being able to zoom 10×?


4 Answers 4


Will I regret not being able to zoom 10×?

The short answer is "depends on yourself", and the longer answer is to ask yourself how many of your existing photos taken at "10x zoom" do you really like? For these, is it a matter of physical barriers (e.g. behind fences) or the background separation (i.e. creating bokeh given the wide depth-of-field on your existing camera's small sensor) that made the shot possible and pleasing for you?

If your answer is already "very few" for the first question, then you can be quite sure you're not going to regret much. If the answer is (surprisingly?) a lot, then it depends on your answer for the second question:

  • Physical barriers: Ok, so your favorite kind of photos are those of distant objects where you simply can't get near enough. In that case, go for a DSLR and invest in a good telephoto lens.
  • The bokeh effect: Even the relatively large micro-four-thirds camera system can give you pleasing bokeh compared to your compact camera without having to "zoom in" much, so you may want to re-evaluate whether you need an APS-C-sized DSLR system or not.

As mentioned in @null's answer, astro-photography generally require "a wide lens, open aperture and high ISO", so all the more I think that bokeh and "zoom factor" will be less of your concern...


Will I regret not being able to zoom 10x :(

Nobody can tell except yourself. Rent the D5500 with the AF-S DX 18-55mm VR II and try it out.

I really like the vary angle LCD thing and the fact its lighter and has wifi built in

Just like big optical zoom, these are not exactly the main features of a DSLR.

You should consider all features of both systems and see how they impact your photography.

Here's the beginning of a comparison table, that you should finish on your own. (both Nikons with the lens mentioned)

                SX 120 IS              D3300             D5500

year released   2009                   2014              2015

weight [g]      245                    410 + 195         420 + 195

f.length [mm]   36–360                 18-55 (27-82 with x1.5 crop factor)

max aperture    f/2,8–4,3                       f/3.5-5.6


Now let's put some of this into perspective:

the fact its lighter

The difference in weight between the D3300 and the D5500 is 10g. This is nothing compared to the fact that they are both over twice as heavy as the SX120. If you pick up all 3 cameras, you won't notice the difference between the Nikons.

the vary angle LCD thing [,...] intend to use the camera for [...] nature

Chances are that the sun is shining in nature, which renders the display useless. It can help getting different shots from unusual angles and/or macro.

If the sun is not shining, it's possibly raining. How's the weather sealing of those cameras?

astro shots at night

For that, you need a wide lens, open aperture and high ISO. It's one of the most demanding applications for photography. Zoom ain't worth anything here.

Depending on how serious you want to get, interchangeability of lenses gives you the possibility to mount the camera to a telescope.

For both astro and nature photography, a gps appears to be a possibly desirable feature.



You won't really miss the fact that you can't super-zoom once you start using a DSLR. Cameras these days have good enough sensors which can shoot high resolution shots. And cropping them will still produce high quality photos. What I'd recommend is buy a camera that you believe will suit your shooting requirements and stick with the kit lens (18-55mm) for some time. Usually kit lens are the all-rounder lens (even though many agree their rubbish) and will help you improve your photography. After a couple of months of good use, you'll realize what you really need for shooting better and it's then you should buy a new lens. A fast prime lens and an average zoom lens would be sufficient, unless you wish to spend some more for a wide angle lens which is a better option for astro shots.


I found the basic kit zoom very limiting, to the point where I don't use my camera as much as I hoped I would. I probably won't until I budget for additional lenses, which unfortunately probably won't happen until the year after next.

My old film SLR rigs would involve a wide prime, a "standard" prime and a reasonably fast telephoto zoom, beginning with the Pentax K1000 with 28mm f/2.8, 50mm f/2 and 80-200f/4, continuing through Nikon FA with pretty much the same setup, and winding up with a Contax, where I went with a 45mmf/2.8 Carl Zeiss pancake rather than the 50mm.

This combo covered most of my creative needs, and I'd just slap on the standard or wide prime and leave the rest at home if I wanted to "simplify" my process, which I often did.

Even with the zoom, I found I spent half the time racked out to 200mm, and the other half almost all the way in at 80mm; I'd probably be OK with an 85mm and a 200 or 300mm prime telephotos. I used my feet to do fine framing rather than the zoom collar, and could see the rough shape of the photo I wanted to take before I put the camera to my face.

I bought a nice DSLR camera body with a nice kit lens when I swapped to digital a few years back - love the camera, despise the lens. When you need the reach of a long lens, you really need it. It's hard to pre-visualize the scene when I have every focal length from wide to short telephoto to chose from, I just can't keep track of that, and I invariably find the exact wrong focal length waiting for me when I look through the finder.

Swapping lenses isn't that much of a chore, unless you're a news or sports photog, and for some photographers, the advantage in previsualization, larger maximum aperture, sharper resolution and ease of handling makes two or three primes a better deal than one do-it-all zoom, even accounting for the extra expense and effort of juggling three or more lenses rather than one. If I could do it over again, I'd get a cheaper body in a less expensive system, and spend some money on prime lenses instead.

This is a point of preference - I know people who love their kit zoom, and use one even when they have other options, including ultra-pricey primes, in the camera bag.

You'd do well to rent or borrow some equipment and see what you prefer.

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