Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Point-and-Shoot Super Zoom Vs. DSLR--which one should you choose?

In more than one of my chat groups that I belong to, people are asking the question "should I get an upgraded Point-and-Shoot camera or a DSLR?"  I touched on this subject here, but I'm now I'm going to get a little more in-depth.  For clarification, in this post, when I talk about Point-and-Shoot cameras, I am talking about the high-end, Super Zoom cameras such as the Canon SX20 IS and the Nikon Coolpix P80 (just to name two).  Also, I am gearing this post toward your average person with little to average photography skills.

So, as an average person, do you need a DSLR or will a P&S work just fine for you?  To answer that question you will have to ask a few more questions:
1)  First and foremost, how much do you want to spend?  Your SZ cameras will run you anywhere from $250-$400.  DSLRs start around $500 for a basic, stripped down model, and go up from there.  With a DSLR, you not only have to buy the camera, you have to buy the extra lenses to go with it (keep that in mind when you think you've found a cheep DSLR).
2)   How portable do you want your camera to be?  Where will you be taking your camera?  Most SZ cameras are about the same size as DSLR cameras.  The difference comes in the fact that with a SZ camera you only have the camera to tote around.  With a DSLR, you have the camera and the lenses.  Can you fit all that in your diaper bag?  Can you carry your camera equipment and all your kids' gear?  Are you going to be going somewhere where your camera has to be discrete?
3)  How important is the quality of your picture?  It's no secret that a DSLR will produce a far superior quality photo over your SZ camera.  However, if you're stepping up from a regular P&S camera, a SZ will give you far superior quality over that.  As an average person, are you really going to notice the difference between SZ quality and DSLR quality?  And, does that extra quality make or break the deal for you?
4)  How important is fast response for you?  Are you going to be taking a lot of action shots?  DSLRs respond much faster than SZ cameras when it comes to taking action shots.  Again, though, if you are stepping up from a regular P&S camera, you'll never know the difference if you go to just a SZ.
5)  How important is low light shooting for you?  DSLR cameras have the advantage when it comes to low light photography.  However, how often do you take pictures in low light situations? 
6)  Last, but not least, and most importantly in my opinion:  Are you going to treat your DSLR like a P&S camera?  What's the point in getting an expensive camera with a bunch of bells and whistles if you are going to keep it in auto mode and treat it like a P&S camera....Are you going to learn the DSLR camera and use it to it's full potential or do you want something that you can just "point-and-shoot"? 

Point-and-Shoot cameras have come a long way with the newer Super Zoom cameras.  They offer a lot of the same functions that DSLR cameras have but in a small, compact package.  You'd be amazed what your average person can do with a SZ camera.  You shouldn't count them out just because DSLRs are "popular". 

When deciding if you should get a Point-and-Shoot camera or a DSLR, ask yourself those 6 questions above, and be honest.  Go with what works for you and not with what everyone else is getting.

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Kentucky Farm Girl said...

Wow! This is hysterical! I've been shopping for a P&S camera, primarily because, as an "average" person, I don't want to spend the money on the DSLR. Plus, I want something that's easy to tote. Not ten minutes ago, I was on Amazon.com investigating the Canon PowerShot SX200IS, and have about decided this is the way I'm going to go. Thanks for the insight and the info!!

Anne said...

Jamie- Love this blog!! How has Catharine not told me about it?? Now I am a follower, and am following you on Twitter ;) I am saving my pennies for an upgraded camera so I LOVED this post. Awesome. Can you give some recommendations on the best SZ cameras out there right now??

Catharine @Bliss Photography said...

Being a dslr user and lover, I also love to play with a nice compact P&S. Wish I could invest in both for very different circumstances. P&S is great for playdates and diaper bag, DSLR for special events, at home, low light situations and such. I don't lug around all my gear though for your average playdate, my xti body and small 50mm 1.4 are quite sufficient. And Anne, I can hardly keep up with all my friends blogs let alone recommendations! Glad you stopped over! ;)

Catharine @Bliss Photography said...

phew.. ok now that I have completely harrassed you here and in your community, I am off the interwebz.. loves! ;)

Arizona Mamma said...

Such good tips! You are so right too. My point and shoot can have white balanced adjusted, and so much more that I didn't even realize. You are so informative!

GAM said...

You are so right. We have been prevaricating about whether to go in for a DSLR or stick with our superzooms. The more I use the superzooms, the better I find them to be, without all the hassles of lugging around DSLRs on long walks i inclement weather, changing lenses etc. After reading your post, I am not interested in a DSLR any longer, though may upgrade to the super Super Zoom i.e. Canon SX30 IS eventually.

Thanks for posting in easily understandable language.

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