Dec 13, 2012

Tidbits: Point & Shoot vs. DSLR

I feel like I get asked a lot this time of year… what kind of camera should I buy?

And with Christmas around the corner, I thought I would do a little post that may help you decide what works for you.

There are two types of digital cameras out there… Point-and-shoot vs. dSLR.

A point and shoot is a small, versatile camera that you can throw in your purse and go. They make up the vast majority of consumer digital cameras on the market. They are more affordable, costing between $100 and $400. They have an electronic viewfinder on a built-in LCD display, and generally takes care of everything, including focus. They often also have a lot of fun novelty features, filters, and easy to use settings. If you are looking for something simple, lightweight, and easy to bring along. Go with a point and shoot!

But for some that just doesn’t cut it. A point and shoot doesn’t give you as much control over your images. Maybe the small shutter delay causes you to miss the moments you’re intending to capture. For these types of photographers, a digital single-lens reflex (dSLR) camera is the way to go.  A dSLR allows a photographer to change out lenses, manually focus, capture photographic effects like depth of field, and balance color and light within the camera. dSLRs do offer better quality photography… but only if you take time to learn how to use them.

dSLRs aren’t cheap, though: they start at $500, but can easily cost thousands of dollars. A common misconception is that in order to get great images, you need a big dSLR camera body with a bajillion mega-pixels and a big ole lens. Not true! And honestly most point and shoots and beginner dSLR’s have similar mega-pixel quality anyways. Unless you are planning on blowing up photos to cover your wall… 8 mega-pixels and higher will be just fine! So don’t pay too much attention to how high those go.

As far as the camera body and lens, I recommend getting them separately. Especially for those who want to learn more about photography,I would get a body only (I use Canon… so I would recommend a Canon Rebel. But Nikon cameras are also great.. Remember whatever body you buy, your lenses and accessories will need to match. You can’t use a Canon lens with Nikon body, etc). I would then recommend getting the 50 mm 1.4. lens. I wrote more about lenses and the differences here if you want to learn more. I know there are a ton of those kits coming out around this time of year (where the camera body comes with two lenses, etc). I am not a huge fan honestly though… especially if you are really trying to learn about photography. The lens in the kits don’t allow you to do as much with them and they break easily.

Bottom line in deciding what to get… how much can you spend? Do you want something easy to use and easy to carry around? Then go Point and Shoot. There are tons out there that take incredible images.

If you want to learn more about photography… and have more control over your settings… then go with a DSLR.

Hope that helps! Please leave any comments or questions below! And happy shopping! 🙂



  1. Excellent advice. I get this question a lot, as well, especially around the holidays.


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