If you are looking for a camera that is versatile, relatively simple to use, and takes great pictures, then a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera is exactly what you are looking for.  Don't let the complicated name fool you!  Although most people are more familiar with regular compact digital cameras, DSLR's are becoming more and more common as their price continues to fall. 

Although prices have continued to fall, the price for the average DSLR is still what prevents most people from buying them.  The average DSLR camera, sans lens, will start somewhere in the ball park of $475.  In addition, you will then have to shell out another $500 or so for a lens.  The bottom line is this:  Yes, DSLR's are quite an investment, but if photography is something that you are passionate about and plan to continue in the long-term, then this is the type of camera for you. 

In addition to this, a huge advantage of these cameras is the option to change lenses with ease.  The importance of the lens is highly underestimated by many casual photographers.  Lenses can greatly affect the clarity, contrast, and color in every picture.  Another advantage of having interchangeable lenses is that it takes away the need to buy a brand new camera when your photographic needs change. Instead, you can just go get another lens, add it to your repertoire, and its the equivalent of buying a new camera.  

As will all cameras, there are both up and down sides to DSLR's.  This type of camera is not perfect for everyone, but defining a price and what attributes you wish the camera to have is a great first step.  Below is a list of the biggest advantages and disadvantages.  

Advantages of DSLR's:                                        

  • Better Overall Performance - When comparing to normal point and shoot digital cameras, DSLR cameras have quicker automatic focusing, shorter shutter delay, and are better for the continuous shooting of action shots. In addition, DSLR cameras come standard with more capabilities than point and shoot cameras.                                               
  • Easy Interchangeable Lenses - The biggest advantage of DSLR is its flexibility to use many types of different lenses. There many different kinds of lenses  that can be used with this type of camera.  A real life example of the benefits of the flexibility of interchangeable lenses is this following.  If you want to take a picture of the Grand Canyon, then you would select an ultra wide lens. But, if you want to focus on a single close-up subject  you would select a telephoto lens. Suppose you need to focus on tiny objects, then the macro lens is the ideal one.  As can be seen, the ideal lens is available for any situation.
  • Better Image Quality - When using this type of camera, you can almost rest assured that you will take better quality photos than you would with a regular point and shoot.  Even if the megapixel count is similar or the same, DSLR's will produce a higher quality picture even in low light situations.  This is due to the higher light sensitivity that comes along with these cameras.

Disadvantages of DSLR's:

  • Price - As previously stated, even the low-end of DSLR cameras are relatively expensive.   The purchase of a DSLR camera can best be looked at as an investment that will pay for itself as you learn its features and go down your path as a photographer. 
  • Size -  DSLR's are bulkier and often weigh more than regular point and shoots. The bigger size is due to the comparably large mirror system and pentaprism. Also, because many accessories, such as lenses, have to be taken along with any DSLR the overall weight of DSLR gear and camera itself is heavier than the standard digital camera.  
  • Ease of Operation - Unlike the standard point and shoot cameras, someone who is new a newcomer to photography could find it difficult to operate the DSLR straight away.  As you begin to use and explore the camera, the level of difficulty will decrease.