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Ladies Behind the Lens

Latest Digital SLRs Target Female Photographers


Many women enjoy photographing food. (C)Japan Echo Inc.

Photography was once overwhelmingly a male hobby, but nowadays more and more women can be seen carrying digital single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras. More than just objective records, photographs can serve as vivid reminders of the emotions that we experienced at a particular time. The beauty of a flower, a decisive moment in a sports game, the busy movement of an animal, the joyful expression of a child finishing a footrace - there are many moving sights that we wish to commit to memory, and sometimes compact digital cameras and camera cell phones just are not enough. The evolving world of digital SLR cameras, with their ability to capture the essence of the moment without the fuss of traditional SLRs, is attracting new fans, particularly among women.

High Functionality and Image Quality
Digital SLRs offer a range of sophisticated functions. Diverse interchangeable lenses are available to suit different needs, from super-wide-angle to super-telephoto models. Other features include fast shutter speed, rapid continuous shooting, synchronization with flash units, and image stabilization.

Japanese manufacturers have been leaders since the age of film cameras in pursuing and realizing advanced functions such as these that cater to the needs of professional photographers, and they continue to create high-performance digital SLR cameras in today's age of digital photography.

Until recently the problem with digital SLRs was that, compared with compact digital cameras, they could be intimidating to the uninitiated. They typically weighed around 1 kilogram due to all the components that are needed to deliver their functionality, and they cost several to 10 times more than their compact counterparts. Unlike with point-and-shoot cameras, moreover, in some modes the user must manually adjust the lens aperture and shutter speed.

Lighter, More Accessible Models
The user base of digital SLR cameras has been growing, however, thanks to the development of small, lightweight, user-friendly, and smart-looking models aimed at novice and female users by major camera manufacturers, such as Canon Inc., Nikon Corp., Panasonic Corp., Sony Corp., and Olympus Corp. Even these entry-level models have much more to offer than compact cameras. Their lenses can be interchanged, as with any SLR camera, and their larger image sensors make for more expressive photos. The lightest cameras have bodies weighing less than 400 grams. They often come with easy-to-use automatic settings, including various scene modes, making them easy for SLR novices to manipulate.


Flowers are also a popular subject. (C)Japan Echo Inc.

Another important feature that has become common is image stabilization, which enables users to take blur-free photos on a handheld camera even with a super-telephoto lens. This and other innovative functions help users to take impressive shots of children, pets, food, and other subjects that tend to be favored particularly by women. With these cameras, anyone can readily enjoy photography of a sophistication that is beyond the reach of compact cameras.

Most lens kits - sets comprising the camera body and a lens - of entry-level models cost about ¥100,000 ($1,110 at ¥90 to the dollar). But if one looks in the right places there are deals of ¥50,000 to ¥70,000 ($556 to $778), making them not much more expensive than compact cameras.

With their versatility and infinite freedom of expression, digital SLR cameras are capturing the hearts of women, as well as men. Given the increase in female enthusiasts, even smaller, lighter, simpler, and more stylish digital SLRs can be expected to appear in the coming years. (March 2009)