As a former 35mm SLR hobbyist, my old cam is no longer feasible to repair. My superzoom digicam is seriously disappointing. I'm looking to upgrade soon and I've narrowed my search between a few entry level kits (Nikon D80, Sony A100, Canon XT). I hit a wall combing through tutorials and forums to find the digital relevance of bulb function. Is there any merit to having the bulb or "B" shutter setting on a DSLR(as in night shooting, lightning, constellations, etc.)? If so, would the XT (8MP version) be a competent model for this or would I be seriously "underbuying"? The 10MP XTi evidently does not offer the bulb setting(not listed; anyway)and looks to have strong shutter lag. I've read the reviews but I question my need for higher models for a hobby. Any info/advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks-EuWill
Useful to one and useless to another. If night photography is part of your goals, then you may not want to live without it. There are times when eight seconds or 30 seconds are not enough.
Very long exposures minimize the effects of motion. I was doing architectural interiors on ISO25 film, when a person walked through the shot - long exposure. I did a second shot, but when processed, there was no image of the person at all. A small bump against the tripod that would ruin a shot at 1/15th of a second will be invisible at a minute, since it is such a small percentage of the exposure time.
There is a wonderful strangeness to a print from a long exposure at a very low ISO setting. You see detail in darkness that only an owl or a cat might. You see star trails and can photograph the aurora. This was a full minute.
Even better is my newest camera that has timed long exposures. I can choose from 30 seconds, one, three, five or ten minutes. With bulb, you have to hold the shutter release down for the duration, but with this one it is just a matter of tripping the shutter and relaxing until the exposure is done. Unfortunately the camera is no longer on the market.
I expect that there are many who never even think to venture into the night with long exposures, and for them it would be a worthless feature. Timed long exposures was a major deal-maker, and I have used it to very good advantage many times.
Thanks for the info Larry. Looking at your aurora photo (which is beautiful; kudos BTW), I am excited to get back out at night and start shooting again. A ten minute shutter would definitely be something I'd be interested in experimenting with. It looks as if all the models I'm looking at don't offer longer shutter times than 30 seconds. As always; greatly appreciated- EuWill
I bought the Sony Alpha 100 and it has the "B" bulb setting. While I haven't used it yet, when I shot film, I did use it when shooting lightening strikes. Haven't had the chance yet to use the Alpha for that, but will as soon as I can. The Alpha also had a firmware update to ver. 1.02 that helps reduce noise at exposures over 1 sec. So just to let you know, the Alpha does have a bulb setting. Also, the shutter cable release for the Minolta Maxxum works on the Alpha and probably find them cheaper than the Sony cable release.
Hope this helps.
Thanks for the info Ray. I had decided to go ahead a shell out a few more (hundred) dollars and set myself up with the Sony A100K, larger telephoto lense, hi cap battery, etc. Unfortunately, they have already botched my order and they are sending me a stock SAL telephoto Vs. the Sigma tele/macro/ that I ordered:-( I might give it a whirl but I'm sure I won't care for the SAL. Hopefully I'm wrong.