If you’re thinking about buying a new camera, you probably know that there are two main types of cameras: DSLRs and point-and-shoots. They’re very different in almost every aspect. Do you know the benefits each camera type offers? Read on to find out.
Benefits of Digital SLR Cameras
1. They’re faster. Digital SLR cameras are much more responsive to user input than point-and-shoot cameras. You press a button, and the camera does it. No waiting. The shutter lag (the time between when you press the button, and when the picture is taken) is significantly shorter on DSLRs. The picture is taken instantly. Point-and-shoot cameras have much longer shutter lag, usually at least twice as much as DSLRs. DSLRs are also more responsive to everything else – menu settings, image controls, etc. You press it, it happens. No wait.
2. They’re better for action. If you’re shooting action photos, like sports or moving kids, Digital SLRs are much better here. First, they have much, much faster autofocus (AF). Point-and-shoot cameras use an AF technology called contrast-detection. DSLRs use phase detection, which is much faster. The second advantage of DSLRs in action photography is their burst mode. Generally, DSLRs have a faster burst mode than point-and-shoots. Most DSLRs have anywhere from 3 to 8 frames per second (FPS – how many pictures it can take in one second). Some point-and-shoots have gotten much better at this recently, so do your research if you’re considering one.
3. They have interchangeable lenses. This one is pretty self-explanatory – DSLRs allow you to put all kinds of different lenses on the camera. You can buy pretty much any kind of lens for your DSLR. This offers far more versatility than the basic lens on a point-and-shoot camera.
4. They offer manual control. With Digital SLRs, you have full control over everything – exposure, focus, image settings, etc. Some point-and-shoots offer this, but they’re not as easily accessible as the DSLR settings. If this intimidates you, you can always set the camera on Auto, of course. But having the option of using manual is great, because it lets you experiment and become a better photographer.
5. They have better image quality. Digital SLRs have superior image quality to point-and-shoots. This is because DSLRs have a much larger image sensor. The bigger the sensor, the better image quality, in general. This is part of the reason DSLRs cost more – the big sensor chip is not cheap to manufacture. But if you want the best image quality, you have to go for a DSLR.
Benefits of Point-and-Shoot Cameras
1. They’re cheaper. By far the most significant advantage over DSLRs is that point-and-shoots are much less expensive. Many people who don’t want to pay for a DSLR will choose a point-and-shoot instead.
2. They’re smaller. Point-and-shoots are much smaller than DSLRs. They’re easy to stick in your pocket when you go out of the house. They’re also lightweight and therefore much easier to carry around than DSLRs. DSLRs are not the best option if you want a convenient camera to carry everywhere.
3. They’re inconspicuous. Point-and-shoot cameras are less easily seen than DSLRs. They’re less of a target for theft, and people won’t think of you as a “real photographer” (that can get annoying). For things like street photography, where you don’t want to draw attention, DSLRs aren’t the best option.
In summary, Digital SLRs offer better images in general – they’re faster, have better quality, and offer better control. Point-and-shoots, on the other hand, are much less expensive, and they’re small, light, and inconspicuous.
One final recommendation: before you shell out money for a point-and-shoot camera, ask yourself if your phone camera would be a good alternative. The cameras in modern phones have gotten almost as good as point-and-shoots. It’s a lot more convenient, as you carry your phone everywhere anyway. If you have an iPhone 4S or 5, or another phone with a similar camera, consider that as a point-and-shoot alternative. Of course, there are many benefits to point-and-shoots that cell phones don’t have – so consider all your options.
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(price as of Apr 16, 2016)