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DSLR Camera Vs Compact, Which One Should You Buy?

DSLR Camera Vs Compact, Which One Should You Buy?

A very common dilemma faced by readers is “Should I buy a DSLR or Compact (Point and Shoot)?”

To get to an answer, we have to know the differences between the two and ask ourselves a few questions. Do note that there is a certain degree of generalisation below. Most of the time, we refer to mid-range models of cameras, whether compact or DSLR, rather than the exceptional models with exceptional features.

1) Size

To me, this is the most important question above everything else. There is no point going through the technicalities if you prefer to stuff your camera in your pocket and do not want to have to lug around a heavier camera and acccessories. Compacts are great for travel and parties, and when you do not want to shove a big lens into someone else’s face.

2) Budget

Prices of DSLRs have been dropping these few years, especially with the emergence of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (or micro 4/3s). Entry level DSLRs are becoming very affordable too, but generally speaking, DSLRs are still more costly than compacts.

Do also bear in mind that if you buy a DSLR, you might want to add on a few more lenses, get a better tripod, get a new external flash etc. All these could come up to substantial costs.

For compacts, there are no lenses for to buy and change. Other than getting accessories like an extra battery or pouch, there isn’t much you need to spend on.

3) Image quality

Now we are into the more technical aspect. Generally, DSLRs have a bigger sensor. Even in cases when the compacts sport a higher megapixel figure than a DSLR. In general, a larger sensor size produces higher sensitivity and lower noise. This means that better pictures can be produced under low light conditions. Larger sensors also create a shallower depth of field at any given aperture. This can be important especially when taking portraits.

4) Speed

Compacts generally have a more noticeable shutter lag (the time between you press the shutter and the time the image is taken). If you like to take pictures of action or even kids (who are always running around!), a DSLR would fare much better.

Longer start up time and focusing time are also some common complaints about compact cameras, though the newer models have been greatly improved.

Continuous shooting modes in compacts are also faring much better than before, but DSLRs are also more superior in this aspect.

5) Manual controls

Some higher end compacts offer more manual settings for the user. But still, if you would like full manual control over your pictures, a DSLR is your choice.

6) LCD framing

Both DSLRs and compacts come with a LCD. In compacts, pictures can only be framed through the LCD.

In DSLRs, of course you can use the LCD when you are in awkward angles and can’t put your eye to the viewfinder, but you generally use the viewfinder to frame your pictures.

7) Versatility

For DSLRs, you can change the lenses, add on external flash, add on filters etc and get and variety of effects and different outcomes for your pictures. The various types of lenses – fisheye, wide angle, macro, prime, superzoom etc work best in their own different ways. For compacts, the lens is fixed. You may sometimes find that it works better in some types of pictures but may have their restrictions for other types.

At the end of the day, it boils down to what is important to you. A better camera does not necessarily make you a better photographer, so it really is you!!