Should I choose a DSLR or compact camera?


If you are planning to buy a camera, you will inevitably face a dilemma: which one is better – a DSLR or a compact digital one? The question is still relevant today, no matter how many new models are released. Before you start choosing a manufacturer and a model, you have to find out what your needs are in shooting. It is they who will “prompt” the right decision.

Basic selection criteria

How to choose the right camera

  • Quality of pictures. Today you can get pretty good pictures even with your phone. So it is reasonable to set the bar a little higher for the camera. You can get high-quality pictures on both compacts and SLRs. Provided that for comparison will be chosen representatives of the same price segment.
  • Weight and size. This is a very important point and one of the biggest differences between DSLRs and compacts. Do you plan to carry around a camera bag with a heavy DSLR and lens, or do you need a camera that can easily fit in your pocket? For most people this is the deciding factor.
  • What do you want to shoot. It is advisable to make up your mind before you buy, so you won’t be disappointed with your already bought camera. Most cameras are made for specific tasks. For example, a DSLR camera is better for night photography, the quality of the photos will be much higher.
  • Image size. Here everything is simple: the photos will go on sale, posters, large calendars or for the family album and network. If there is no need to enlarge the photos several times, the simplest compact camera is often enough.
  • Passion for the process. The SLR camera “reveals” its capabilities in the hands of a professional. Using the automatic shooting mode, you will get identical pictures from both devices. A DSLR is designed for thoughtful and “advanced” use.

Usually the basic criteria help tip the scales in one direction. If you are still unable to decide which option is best for you, you can consider in more detail the advantages and disadvantages of each representative.

Advantages of SLR cameras

The main advantage, of course, are the capabilities of DSLRs. Holding this solid device in your hands, you immediately feel that together you are capable of more than just clicking and moving on. Now you can afford “complicated” tasks: moonwalks, fireworks, sunsets and sunrises – all the things that earlier when shooting with soapboxes or smartphones brought only frustration. With an SLR camera, it all becomes real. Now your photos are richly detailed, with no blown-out highlights, “soapiness” or digital noise.

In addition, there are additional opportunities in the form of buying a variety of lenses, which in turn will expand the already huge potential of the DSLR. Do you want to “go on a photo hunt” for birds or wild animals? A telephoto lens will help you. More attracted to the microcosm? A macro lens will make your heart’s desire come true. Love artistic photography with a blurry background? Constant focal length lenses are perfect for this purpose.

The main reason people buy a DSLR is because of the quality and clarity of the picture. Whatever the case may be, a DSLR will produce a better image than a compact digital camera for the same number of pixels. This is because DSLRs have better optics and sensor.

Disadvantages of DSLRs

Of course, there is no ideal, so DSLRs have not only advantages, but also disadvantages. First of all it’s price. It starts at 20,000 rubles. By comparison, you can buy a good compact camera for half the price. And everyone knows that the cheapest does not mean the best. “Average” will cost 50,000 rubles. So the price is not the least important factor in the choice.

The second disadvantage is the size of DSLRs. Entry-level cameras weigh 500 grams, a higher class weighs up to one kilogram. Such a unit can not be put in a pocket of jeans or a shirt, unlike the compact. For long trips and hikes, where every kilogram weighs like a pound weight, weight and size are important.

The third disadvantage is not so obvious, but nevertheless it is there. Changing the lens is not always possible. For example, you have a close range lens on your camera at the moment and suddenly there is something interesting in the distance. As a rule, not only laziness, but also unsuitable conditions will prevent a lens change. It is not so easy to change lenses, you have to make sure that dirt and dust don’t get on the sensor and that the lens doesn’t fall down. Often you will never get the shot you want.

Advantages of compact cameras

The advantages of compacts are just the disadvantages of DSLRs. That is, the price and small size will be a definite advantage. Compact digital cameras, popularly known as point-and-shoot cameras, are very lightweight. They are easy to carry, they are always on hand, allowing “not to miss” the moment.

An important factor is considered to be a correct comparison of point-and-shoot cameras and DSLRs. You have to agree that it’s not quite fair to compare a DSLR for 25,000 rubles with a compact for 5,000 rubles. It would be better to choose a model with the same price for comparison. There are a few fewer drawbacks when you compare them to your DSLR. Why?

More expensive models of compact cameras (and the price of 25,000 rubles for a soapbox is considered pretty high) are equipped with a bunch of functions that affect image quality as well as absolutely useless. Useful features include:

  • manual shooting modes;
  • shooting in RAW format;
  • the ability to change the lens;
  • water resistance;
  • shock resistance.

Less useful functions include the possibility of panoramic shooting, which in practice is of little use to anyone, GPS-navigator, additional screen, mirror and compass.

Disadvantages of compact cameras

The biggest disadvantage of compacts is a weak sensor. It is the one which is “responsible” for the quality of the picture it produces. Many people still believe that a large number of pixels is necessary for a quality picture. This is one of the biggest misconceptions. For a standard 10×15 picture 3.2 megapixels is enough. Once upon a time, that’s where it all started. Now we shoot at 12-20 megapixels.

The second disadvantage is weak optics, which are “put” on compact digital cameras. Unfortunately, the laws of optics do not allow to get photos of super quality through a small lens. And that is exactly what is produced with soapbox cameras. In addition, the lenses on compacts are very “dark”. That is, have a weak aperture ratio. This also affects the image quality not in the best way.

So before you make the final decision and decide what is better for you: a DSLR or a compact, make sure to weigh the pros and cons. Be very honest with yourself, really evaluate your needs and possibilities, because there is no point in paying for something that is not useful. What suits you personally more – the ease of use with simple and flat images, or the desire to express themselves in photographic works and get high-quality photos? It’s up to you to decide.


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