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I saw this post on Thomas Hawk's blog, pointing to a nice article comparing DSLR's to Point and Shoot Cameras at Digital Photography School. This article is a great primer for people thinking about making a jump to higher-end photography.

A point the article makes that I cannot emphasize enough : Megapixels are not the most important factor in picture quality. Equally (if not more important) is the size of the sensor, and the size of the apeture. Both of these combine into how much light from the world is actually used to generate your picture. The more light, the better your picture, especially in terms of noise etc.

For everyone who is at all serious about photography, get the DSLR. Have a point and shoot as a backup, or for carrying with you in your pocket. But the DSLR is better in every other way.  As for film, unless you are developing and printing them yourself, in your own darkroom, 35mm film is absolutely dead. Medium and Large format are still where the top quality though.

If you do buy a point and shoot, buy the biggest one you feel comfortable carrying (especially the biggest lens). However, as soon as you get to the $700 and “bigger than my pocket” size, switch to a DSLR.

One error I did see in the article :

No live LCD - in almost all DSLRs the only way to frame your shot is via the optical viewfinder. Some photographers prefer to use a camera’s LCD for this task. Some DSLRs seem to be being released with this feature being added however so if you’re a fan of the LCD framing method you might want to check.

This is not true, by definition, any camera that shows a preview in the LCD is NOT a DSLR.  A DSLR works by bouncing the light off a mirror, into the viewfinder. When the shutter is released, the mirror moves out of the way, and the light hits the sensor. If you have a LCD preview, then the light is hitting the sensor all the time. This means your viewfinder is either going through a different light path, or is a mini-LCD. Both of these have problems - if you are using the LCD all the time, you chew up your battery much faster, and if you have a second light path that means what you see through the finder, is not exactly what the picture will be taken of (due to paralax) Posted on Wednesday, May 10, 2006 12:47 PM photography | Back to top


Comments on this post: Should you buy a DSLR or a Point and Shoot.

# re: Should you buy a DSLR or a Point and Shoot.
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Actually, someone just released a genuine DSLR with the option to use the LCD as viewfinder. Can't remember who, though :-(
Left by Jannik Anker on May 11, 2006 1:42 AM

# re: Should you buy a DSLR or a Point and Shoot.
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"Actually, someone just released a genuine DSLR with the option to use the LCD as viewfinder. Can't remember who, though :-( "

Olympus E-510 and E-410 have the option of usin the LCD as view finder.
Left by Fernando on Jan 08, 2008 9:37 AM

# re: Should you buy a DSLR or a Point and Shoot.
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I think these two cameras should be used according to how the situation calls it. For example, if you don't like carrying around big and bulky DSLR bags, then go for your P&S. I normally use my P&S on simple occasions like small gatherings, etc. Then if you thin you should get your DSLR for a special event or occasion, then go for it. It's just a matter of what the situation calls it. Having both of the P&S and DSLR works great on me!
Left by Top Rated Cameras on Jan 10, 2011 7:10 PM

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