The Perfect Camera to Suit Your Needs
Deciding whether to buy a DSLR or a Point & Shoot Digital camera used to be as simple as checking your bank account to see what you could afford.
With the popularity of these cameras on the rise and the prices dropping to affordable levels, more people are getting involved in photography and choosing better quality cameras.
One of the first steps in deciding which camera is best for you is to analyze how you plan to use. If you can only purchase one, what types of situations do you most often find yourself in and which camera would work best?
- Are you looking for flexibility and high image quality?
- Do you prefer simplicity, convenience, and portability?
- If Do you have a need for two different types of cameras at different times?
A good example of a quality Point and Shoot digital camera is the Fujifilm FinePix F30, which complements the DSLR Canon EOS 5D.
Here we will point out some of the advantages and disadvantages of both DSLRs and point and shoots; this should help evaluate which type of camera(s) are best suited to your situation and assist you in making the right decision. The Perfect Camera to Suit Your Needs
Do you really need a DSLR?
- Am I ready to invest my time and a considerable amount of money ina DSLR?
- Am I willing to learn about photography and the camera?
- Do I need a more advanced camera for more than just family pictures?
- Will my business or family benefit from this purchase?
What Is the Difference Between a Point-and-Shoot Camera and a Digital SLR Camera?
When considering the purchase of a digital camera, there are essentially two main types of camera to consider: the point-and-shoot digital camera and the digital SLR. Within each type, the camera models vary drastically, from the physical design, such as size and body shape, to the more complex lens types, image quality, capabilities, and price.
Are Megapixels Everything?
A common misconception often heard among digital camera owners, is that a camera’s megapixel rating is the main thing to consider when determining a camera’s quality.
The fact is that megapixels are NOT everything.
Despite point and shoot cameras now coming with up to 16 megapixels, their quality level, though exceptional in most instances, is not necessarily the same quality as a DSLR with only 8 or so.
The main reason is that the image sensor used in point and shoot digital cameras is generally much smaller than the image sensor used in a DSLR (the difference is often as much as 25 times).
This means that the pixels on a point and shoot camera have to be much smaller. Because of this, point and shoot cameras need to work at slower ISO levels, producing-grainier shots. Having a camera with fewer megapixels and a larger image sensor is far more beneficial when it comes to quality.
The Perfect Camera to Suit Your Needs – Digital SLR
An SLR camera, or Single Lens Reflex camera, is one that uses a mirror and prism system to allow the photographer to view directly through the lens, as opposed to looking through a separate viewfinder that is offset from the lens. Images projected on a viewfinder can be significantly different from what is captured by the actual lens, particularly when it comes to the lighting in the image.
In an SLR, the mirrors and prisms reflect the image that is coming through the lens up through the body of the camera to the photographer’s eye. When the photographer releases the shutter, the mirror moves out of the path so the image is projected directly onto the camera’s sensor or film. In a film SLR, the image was recorded onto the film. In a digital SLR, the camera records images on an image sensor.
Therefore, if a photographer has a film SLR camera, complete with lenses, the switch to the DSLR is generally an easy one. In fact, some film SLR lenses can be used on DSLR cameras by using adapters.
Confirm whether a particular model is, in fact, a true DSLR before buying; some manufacturers now produce mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. They offer the same high quality – just know what you are buying.
Image Quality –
DSLRs are generally able to be used at a faster ISO which will lead to faster shutter speeds and less grain.
DSLR’s ability to change lenses opens up a world of possibilities for photographers. DSLR can be fitted with many high-quality lenses ranging from wide-angle to super long focal lengths, and offer a large range of other accessories (flashes, filters, etc)—the diversity in quality of lenses is great. Image quality is impacted greatly by the quality of the lens you use.
DSLR’s are fast pieces of machinery when it comes to start-up, focusing, and shutter lag.
Optical Viewfinder –
due to the reflex mirror, DSLR’s are very much what you see is what you get operation.
Large ISO range –
this varies between cameras but generally, DSLRs offer a wide array of ISO settings which lends itself to their flexibility in shooting in different conditions.
Manual Controls –
DSLRs provide the photographer with total control of their own settings. Also equipped with good auto modes; the manual controls designed to be at the photographer’s fingertips as they are shooting.
Hold its value –
DSLRs not updated as frequently as point and shoot cameras. The lenses you buy for them are compatible with other camera bodies if you choose to upgrade later – as long as you stay with your brand. This means your investment in lenses holds their value.
Depth of Field –
one of the best features a DSLR offers is the versatility that it gives in many areas, especially depth of field. A DSLR can give you a depth of field that puts everything from foreground to background in focus through to nice blurry backgrounds.
Quality Optics –
The lenses on a DSLR are far superior to a point and shoot camera. DSLR lenses are larger (more glass can add to the quality) and many of them have many hours of time put into their manufacture (especially when you get into higher-end lenses). It is strongly advised that DSLR buyers buy the best quality lenses that they can afford. Go for quality lenses every time; they add so much to photos.
DSLRs are generally more expensive than point and shoot digital cameras. Also, consider that you might want to upgrade your lens or you may wish to add more lenses later and that this adds to the cost of a DSLR.
Size and Weight –
DSLRs are heavy and sizable and when you add a lens or two to your kit bag, it can get quite heavy
If you’re going to use a DSLR with more than one lens, every time you change lenses you run the risk of letting dust into your camera. Dust on an image sensor is a real annoyance as it will leave your images looking blotchy. Cleaning your image sensor not a job; for the faint-hearted and most recommend that you get it done professionally. This is a problem being rectified in many new DSLRs which released with self-cleaning sensors.
DSLRs are generally noisier to use than point and shoot. This will vary depending upon the lens you use but while point and shoots can be almost silent when taking a shot, a DSLR will generally have a ‘clunk’.
DSLRs designed for manual use. This means you need to know how to use the features. Some people are initially a little overwhelmed at first. The learning curve can be quite steep. However, all DSLRs have a fully automatic mode and many have the normal array of semi-auto modes that point and shoot digital cameras have.
No live LCD –
in many DSLRs, the only way to frame your shot is via the optical viewfinder. Some photographers prefer to use a camera’s LCD for this task. This is another thing that is changing with more and more new DSLRs having a ‘Live View’ LCD which enables you to frame your shots without looking through the viewfinder
The Perfect Camera to Suit Your Needs – Point-and-Shoot Cameras
A point and shoot camera, aka a compact camera, is designed for very simple operation. These cameras include auto-focus and other automatic functions and settings, as well as a built-in flash. You just need to point and shoot, and the camera automatically does the rest.
Here’s some Pros and Cons of point and shoot digital cameras:
Point and Shoot Digital Camera Strengths
- Size and Weight –these cameras tend to be slim and light. However, some point and shoots can be quite bulky too, especially some of the super zoom models now available.
- Quiet Operation – Point-and-shoot cameras are very quiet, often to the point of the subject being unaware that a picture has been recorded. Because there are fewer moving parts than on a DSLR, the noise is minimal. In fact, most point-and-shoots have the option of muting sounds. This option practical when photographing a subject; who should not be alerted to the photographer’s presence; or shooting in an environment that requires silence.
- Auto Mode – the quality of images produced in point and shoots varies greatly; they shoot quite well in auto mode. Manufacturers presume that this style of the camera will be used in auto mode; (or one of the other pre-set modes) mostly and as a result, they are well optimized for this type of shooting.
- Price – These types of cameras are cheaper.
- LCD Framing – as mentioned above, many digital camera users prefer to frame their shots using LCDs. Point and Shoots always come with this ability and some even come with ‘flip out’ screens that enable their users to take shots from different angles and still see what they’re shooting.
Point and Shoot Digital Camera Weaknesses
Image Quality –
point and shoots generally have small image sensors, which means that the quality comparatively lower than DSLRs –however, technology is quickly changing. If you are not planning to use your images for major enlargements or in professional applications, then the quality of point and shoot cameras should be sufficient.
Smaller ISO range –
ISO ranges are more limited in point and shoot cameras – this limits them in different shooting conditions.
point and shoot digital cameras were notorious for ‘shutter lag’ (the time between pressing the shutter and when the image is taken. )
Reliance upon LCD –
most point and shoot digital camera rely almost completely upon their LCD for framing. While some enjoy this feature, others like to use a viewfinder. Most point and shoot cameras have viewfinders; however, they are very small.
Manual Controls Limited –
many points and shoot cameras do have the ability to play with a full array of manual settings and controls. They often come with ‘aperture priority’ and ‘shutter priority’ modes which are great. But quite often the manual controls hidden in menu systems and not as accessible as on a DSLR.
Less Adaptable –
while they are highly portable, point and shoot cameras are not very adaptable. What you buy when you first get them is what you are stuck with using for years. Some do have lens adapters to give you wider angles or longer zooms but most people don’t use these accessories.
Should You Buy a DSLR or a Point and Shoot Digital Camera?
The disadvantages of one type of camera translate into benefits of the other type of camera. For example, a DSLR includes more working parts to produces crisper, clearer images. However, this makes it bulky, heavy, and impractical for many situations. In this case, the point-and-shoot is the exact opposite of the DSLR camera, in that it is light, practical, and compact. Unfortunately, in many situations, the image recorded on the point-and-shoot may not be as crisp or vivid. And the photographer cannot enjoy as much creative control.
Some other factors to consider
a good place to start when thinking about buying a DSLR is obviously price. DSLRs’ prices range from affordable to pricey. Set yourself a budget for your purchase early on but make sure that you keep in mind that you will need to consider other costs as well, for example:
- Lenses -some deals offer ‘kit lenses’ but you should consider upgrading
- Batteries -all models will come with one but if you are traveling you might need a spare
- Memory Cards– even if one is included you’ll probably want to upgrade to at least a 1-gigabyte card
- Camera Bag – Your DSLR is something worth protecting – invest in a good bag
- Filters –(at the least you’ll want to get a UV filter for each lens you purchase – but you might also want to consider other types
- Extended Warranties – they’re worth considering
What will you use it for?–
ask yourself this question as it will help you think through the type of features and accessories you will need.
Some photographers don’t mind carrying around weighty gear but if you’re going to use it for on the go photography (travel, bushwalking, etc.), then small and light models can be very handy.
Previous Gear –
the attractive thing about DSLRs is that in many cases they are compatible with some of the gear you might already have.
- Lenses- The chances are that if you have a film SLR that your lenses might well be compatible with a DSLR made by the same manufacturer. Don’t assume that all lenses will be compatible (particularly older gear), but it is well worth asking the question as it could save you considerable money.
- If you have a point-and-shoot camera you might also want to look at the type of memory card; that it takes as some models of DSLRs could also be compatible with them.
Megapixels come into play as you consider how you’ll use your images. If you are looking to print enlargements then more can be good; if you are just going to print small or use them for e-mailing friends; then it’s not so crucial.
Another related question to consider is how big the image sensor is. The term ‘crop factor’ comes up when you talk about image sensor size.
Future Upgrades –
While entry-level DSLRs attractively priced they tend to date more quickly than higher-end models. You also run the risk of growing out of them as your expertise grows. Ask yourself some questions about your current level of expertise in photography; it is a difficult question, but you might find it’s worth; while to pay a little more in the short term for a model that you can grow into.
Here are some of the more common features that you might want to consider:
Burst Mode –
the ability to shoot a burst of images quickly by just holding down the shutter release – great for sports and action photography. DSLRs vary both in the number of frames that they can shoot per second; as well as how many images they can shoot in a single burst.
Maximum Shutter Speed –
most DSLRs will have a decent range of speeds available –others have impressive top speeds that will be very useful if you are into sports or action photography.
ISO Ratings –
Similarly, most DSLRs will offer a good range of ISO settings but some take it to the next level that is useful in low light photography.
LCD Size –
It’s amazing how much difference half an inch can make when viewing images on your camera’s LCD. While it might not change the way you shoot photos (people tend to use viewfinders at this level to frame shots); it certainly can be nice to view your shots on a larger screen.
One of the features that are featuring more and more in them is anti-shake technology. While it has been common to get ‘image stabilization’ technology in lenses, this built-ion feature is very attractive.
Dust Protection –
another new feature is the image sensor dust protection and in some models, self-cleaning image sensors
Check out the features for image transfer to your PC or other devices. In most cases, this can be accomplished via Bluetooth or USB.
Semi-Auto Modes –
As with point and shoot cameras – many DSLRs (especially lower end ones) come with an array of shooting modes. These generally include ‘portrait’, ‘sports’, ‘night’ etc.
Professional grade DSLRs don’t offer built-in flash and just have a hotshot while entry-level DSLRs include a built-in flash.
The Perfect Camera to Suit Your Needs – Which DSLR camera is right for you?
Here are some cameras for your consideration:
Canon EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi) –
It has a 10.1-megapixel sensor, 2.5 inch LCD; and all the features you’ll need to switch into manual (and semi-manual) modes. It is a camera with a lighter feel than the 30D. will leave some feeling as though it might be a little light; however, this adds to its portability. a good camera if you’re a little nervous about stepping out of a point-and-shoot camera; and want something that is easy to use.
Canon EOS 30D –
the 30D has an 8.2-megapixel sensor and a nice large 2.5 inch LCD; as well as an array of other features; that give you plenty of opportunities to explore your photographic ability; (as well as a good Auto mode for when you hand it over to a digital camera novice). This is a more serious camera than the 400D and it is very user-friendly.
Canon EOS 5D –
The 5D not at the very top of the Canon DSLR range; but not cheap and aimed at the higher-end amateur digital photographer; who knows what they are doing.
It doesn’t have a built-in flash and there are no semi-auto modes on the dial. It has a 12.8MP full-frame sensor, 2.5 inch LCD, weighty magnesium body, and a list of features.
Read also: Beginner Cameras and Lenses