Point and Shoot Versus DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex)

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Drawbacks Starting out here at ActiveRain in a photographer's role verus my other life here as a mortgage professional, I figured I would discuss some of my experiences with the two main types of cameras real estate agents, and most others, use in their everyday and professional photography.  While I go into great detail about megapixels and models of cameras, virtually endlessly, I am just going to cover the broad categories of Point and Shoot and DSLR cameras.  I am also going to limit my discussion to digital cameras as film cameras are virtually non-existant now.

First off, I guess I better clarify the two types.  Point and shoot are those that do not have interchangable lenses, while DSLRs can change lenses as the user sees fit.  Both have a wide variety of features, from zoom to megapixels, to sensor size, and so on.  Many point and shoot cameras rival some DSLRs, even in price.  But as the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and that is not limited just to the camera, but also to the person holding it.

Not too long ago, DSLRs were so expensive, they were not even an option.  Heck, ten years ago, point and shoot cameras were not cheap to come by either, not to mention us die hard photography buffs were hesitant to use them to great length.  I did purchase my first digital camera in 2001, used for $250.  It was a Minolta Dimage S304 with a 4x optical zoom (don't remember the "digital zoom") with 3 megapixels.  One thing to keep in mind, DO NOT EVER use the "digital zoom" as you are almost always better off taking the picture and cropping it instead.  Despite the advances in technology since then, one thing seems to never improve in point and shoots...the time it takes to focus!!!

Over the last 10 years, I have owned 5 or 6 point and shoot cameras and 2 DSLRs.  If you decide to go to DSLRs, there are some added factors you need to take into consideration even beyond the cameras ability.  I will get into that later.  Nevertheless, I have taken untold amounts of images over the ten years, covering all types of photography, so my experience level accounts for something these days, and not just from shooting, but from studies as well.  So, let's dive into the main reason for this post...

Benefits of Point and Shoot Cameras© Robert Ashby Photography. All rights reserved.

  • Cheaper - You get similar features for the same money than a DSLR, such as megapixels, zoom, etc.
  • Easy to carry - they are by far smaller than a DSLR, especially with comparable lenses.
  • Automatic Modes - Have programmed modes for just about every type of photography, even underwater.
  • Zoom - Optical can cover considerable distances, 18x or longer. (I do not discuss digital zoom ranges as I feel they are useless for the most part)
  • Video - Video recording in HD is easy.
  • Weight - Light and do not "hurt" when carried around all day.

Drawbacks of Point and Shoot Cameras

  • Focusing - Manual focus is essentially useless on point and shoot cameras and auto focusing takes so long you miss the shot in many cases.  At a minimum, you have to have a lot of patience (though most point and shoot only users likely have no clue).
  • Manual Modes - Some don't even offer the option, while others are generally so tedious, manual modes are useless.
  • Build - Most, but not all, are built rather cheaply and are not rugged enough for some types of photography.
  • Limited in accessories, such as filters, which can come in handy.
  • Easy to lose.  Due to their size, they are easily misplaced or taking a  while to locate if you do not keep track of them.  Trust me, I know.

Benefits of DSLR CamerasSerenity Environments at Broward Design Center

  • Automatic Modes - As with point and shoot cameras, many DSLR cameras come with auto modes that cover a wide range of photography, though they leave out some.  While some are left out, most DSLRs offer at least one setting that the user can customize, making virtually every type of shot (even beyond the point and shoots capability) potentially covered in "auto" mode.
  • Manual Mode - The ease of using Manual Mode and the option for psuedo manual modes, is where DSLRs excel.  If you are like me, you "live" in Manual Mode and that makes DSLRs essential.  You can "create" far better with Manual Mode than you can with a point and shoot.
  • Focusing - Even in low light situations, you get virtually instantaneous focusing in auto focus modes.  And manual focus is easy to achieve as well with the focus being a "ring" versus a "button".  Precise focus is one of the keys to a great photo and you have greater control over focusing, hands down, with a DSLR.
  • Build - Most DSLRs are built rugged enough to handle any type of shoot, especially the more expensive ones.  Some are built like tanks.
  • Video - Most DSLRs these days are capable of shooting HD video and of better quality than point and shoots.  Auto focus may or may not be an option though.  Of course, in some cases it isn't needed either.
  • Hard to lose - Whether due to the cost or their size, DSLRs are a lot less likely to get lost or misplaced.
  • Accessories - Accessories are easy to come by and can allow for all easier and better photos of all types.

Drawbacks of DSLR Cameras

  • Expensive - They aren't cheap, but then again, you get what you pay for and my experience proves it.
  • Weight - They are heavy and carrying them around all day long can actually hurt.  At least if you do, you won't necessarily have to go to the gym that day.  My "minimum" gear weighs ten pounds and I shoot virtually everything without a tripod.
  • Space - Especially when traveling, the amount of space needed to take all of the equipment can be daunting.  When I travel abroad, I am forced to leave some equipment at home, though I carry a "portable studio" with me.

I know you can probably come up with more benefits and drawbacks for each type of camera, but those are the big ones.  You probably already knew some of those anyway, but they are worth examining again, especially if you are looking to buy a new camera.

But the real difference between the two comes down to overall quality of the image.  While many point and shoot cameras are now utilizing the same sensors and image processors to capture the image as an entry-level DSLR, even the those DSLRs are better "capable" of taking higher quality pictures.  Notice I said "capable".  So, repeating that favorite phrase..."you get what you pay for".

I just mentioned "capable" above for a good reason.  Anybody can take good pictures by buying a camera, flipping the "dial" to that "green" mode (whatever icon is used) and shooting away.  However, not everyone can achieve great or impressive pictures that way, and most digital camera users have no idea how to utilize the manual settings to their benefit.  Great pictures not only come from better equipment, but from those whom studying how best to use that equipment.

(PS - I first wrote this earlier today on my new AR profile, but that is limited to members only)

Comments (3)

Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents

I'm a Canon gal. Love my DSLR and once I've gone that route, I can't go back.

Apr 07, 2011 07:11 AM
William J. Archambault, Jr.
The Real Estate Investment Institute - Houston, TX


Like allot of things, it comes down to both what you're comfortable with. DSLR is always better unless it's sitting on the shelf else where! I carry a good point-n-shoot most of the time, but when I get serious I drag out my 35"s.


Apr 08, 2011 01:29 AM
Paul Gapski
Berkshire Hathaway / Prudential Ca Realty - El Cajon, CA
619-504-8999,#1 Resource SD Relo

thank you very much for the informative and interesting post. I get so much out of the active rain network.

Mar 22, 2012 01:07 PM