Point & Shoot Digicams vs. Digital SLR's


“Point & Shoot” digital cameras do a very good job for most amateur photographers, but sometimes it makes sense to pay a little extra for the privilege of moving up to a digital SLR. How do you decide which is right for you? Let’s start with a list of the advantages and disadvantages of each:

Advantages of Point & Shoot digital cameras

  • They are typically much less expensive than digital SLR’s.
  • They are more compact. In fact, many models can even fit in a shirt pocket.
  • You don’t have to bother with changing lenses.
  • Most models come with at least some internal memory, making the purchase of an external memory card an option instead of a necessity.
  • You can compose your shot right on the LCD screen without having to peep through the tiny viewfinder.
  • Fewer available camera settings makes using your new point & shoot digicam right out of the box less confusing.

Disadvantages of Point & Shoot digital cameras

  • With the exception of adding an external memory card, there is usually little room for expansion in the form of accessories like external flash units and filters.
  • Battery life is typically much shorter than with a digital SLR.
  • Since there are fewer settings available, you will have less control over the picture-taking process.

Advantages of digital SLR cameras

  • Digital SLR’s give you much more control over the picture-taking process.
  • Adding an external flash unit, filters, extra lenses and other options is quite easy.
  • Since you always look “through-the-lens”, you see the exact same thing the camera “sees”.
  • Higher quality electronics and better sensors make for better overall picture quality.
  • Most digital SLR camera batteries can last for days with light use.

Disadvantages of digital SLR cameras

  • They are typically much more expensive than point & shoot models.
  • You cannot preview the shot on the LCD screen, only through the viewfinder.
  • They tend to be somewhat fragile so they must be treated with extreme care.
  • Dust can gather on the sensor’s glass shield requiring that you have it cleaned periodically (the camera manufacturers suggest that you let them do the cleaning so as not to damage the sensor).


It all boils down this really: If you just need to take a few pictures here and there for your own use, a point & shoot camera should do just fine. But if you need to take lots of pictures under varying conditions with studio-quality results, you definitely should consider a digital SLR (assuming your budget will allow it).