Thursday, May 22, 2008

Point-and-shoot vs. DSLR

This is one the questions I get asked all the time -- why don't I just buy one of these 7+ megapixel digital point and shoots? Well, this is an option, and the digital point and shoots do have the following benefits:
  • small
  • easy to carry
  • some models have very good image quality at ISO 100 (example: Canon PowerShot G9)
  • some models do have good creative controls (example: Canon PowerShot G9)
The negatives to the digital point and shoots are:
  • really slow auto-focus (since the digital point and shoot uses the same sensor for both auto-focus and image-capture, auto-focus is really slow.) This is big cause of missed shots--it drives me crazy.
  • most have mediocre to poor image quality above ISO 100. On my point-and-shoot, anything about ISO 100 is all mushy and noisy.
  • no (or limited) ability to use different lenses.
The big advantages of the DSLR over the digital point and shoot are:
  • Lighting-fast auto-focus (the DSLR has 1 sensor for image capture and a separate dedicated auto-focus sensor)
  • Most new DSLR models have excellent image quality up to ISO 800 (in some cases even ISO 1600.) This enables me to 1) get more shots using natural light vs. having to resort to using the flash 2) do a better job of shooting indoor sports.
  • Ability to use different lenses for different situations (wide angle, telephoto, macro, fish-eye, prime lenses, etc.)
  • Superior image quality due to the much larger sensor (Rebel XTi sensor size = 328 sq mm vs. PowerShot G9 sensor size of 38 sqmm). Read those numbers again. The quality difference between point-and-shoot vs. DSLR at ISO 400 to 1600 is HUGE. There are tons of photos I take where ISO 400-1600 is required to get the shot.
If you will always be photographing static subjects at ISO 100, don't need to print at sizes bigger than 14 x 11, and the integrated zoom lens that comes with the point-and-shoot meets all your needs, a high quality digital point and shoot like the Canon PowerShot G9 is an option. But, if you want to shoot moving subjects and value the flexibility of being able to shoot at higher ISO's and still get excellent image quality, you'll want a DSLR. The digital SLR also allows you to fundamentally change your camera by allow you to change lenses. In addition, the Canon Rebel XTi with a kit lens (about $675) is very similar in price to the Canon PowerShot G9 ($479.)

The DSLR has a 'full auto' mode, so you can still use your DSLR like a 'point-and-shoot' if you want.

For me, it's not an 'either/or'. I have both. But I try and use my 5D whenever I can because it gives me far superior photos to my little point-and-shoot. Then again, if I'm going on a bike ride I take the 'point-and-shoot' because 1) it's smaller and lighter 2) I wouldn't be heart-broken if I broke the $200 point and shoot.

Compare prices on the Canon XTi, XSi & 40D at Amazon here. Support this site by clicking through these links when you buy your Canon DSLR.


swimlappy said...

I never bring my DSLR on bike rides. I don't think I could keep it safe during the course of 80 miles haha

Nej said...

I feel battery life is also worth mentioning. P&Ss eat batteries, my 40D lasts forever. With 3 batteries in my bag I can pretty much go on holiday for a couple of weeks and not need to recharge.

A final mention is depth-of-field. A P&S will not give you shallow DoF like a DSLR can. Conversely, a P&S can more easily give you huge DoF for landscapes.

Great blog - keep it up!

Top Rated Cameras said...

I totally agree with Nej. P&S cameras doesn't provide you with the quality of the photo as well as the depth of field of the photo unlike with DSLRs.

You can have both anyway. And then use it depending on your needs. Like for example if you doesn't want to bring bulky camera on your bag when going in an event, then you an bring in the P&S camera. Vice versa with DSLRs.

You really got a nice blog. Keep it up! :)


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