Why all the hype about Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras (DSLR) over Compact Digital Cameras?
The simply answer is that professionals and users with disposable income always want the best and the fastest equipment. It’s all about who can publish the first quality image to capture the ultimate credit and rewards. For the average user, is a DSLR the only option for taking quality pictures? The answer from my perspective is NO.
Here is a list of the differences between a DSLR and a Compact Digital Camera.
DSLR has live view which means that the viewfinder looks directly through the actual lens before taking the picture.
Compact has an electronic display of the image being taken.
DSLR has a removable and exchangeable lenses. One lens for each type like wide angle, close up, telephoto or zoom.
Compact has only one compound lens. Most have a wide angle, close up and zoom contained in one lens mechanism.
DSLR cameras are typically big.
Compact cameras are small and thin.
DSLR has no built in flash or a small flash plus a hotshoe for an external flash.
Compact has a built in flash with no support for an external flash.
What makes the DSLR larger than a compact has to due with two reasons.
1: The imaging chip used is a CCD chip which is larger over a CMOS chip used in a compact camera.
2: The mirror that reflects the actual image to the viewfinder is mounted between the lens and the imaging chip thus requiring addition depth to the camera housing.
8.0 megapixel is not the same on a DSLR and a Compact camera.
DSLR uses a CCD chip which operates at a faster speed thus can snap pictures requiring less light.
Compact cameras use a CMOS chip which is cheaper to manufacture, smaller in size and operates slower. The CMOS chip is about 1/4 the size of a CCD chip in a DSLR camera. Since the CCD chip is 4 X larger, comparing an 8.0 megapixel CCD to a CMOS means each pixel on the CCD chip is capable of capturing 4 X amount more of light for each pixel. This in turn results in a higher image quality. The additional light enhances the color and depth of the image taken.
Generally lenses used on a DSLR are of higher quality and also reflect a higher cost price. Most lenses alone cost more than a complete compact camera.
Pros of a DSLR
- Dozens of different lenses to chose from.
- Support for various lens filters.
- External flash support or wider and stronger flash accessories.
- Support for external remote triggering.
- Faster response time for image capturing.
- Generally first in acquiring innovative new technology.
Cons of a DSLR
- Manual focusing and manual zoom.
- Must change lenses for different situations.
- Since lenses are changed, this can introduce dust into the camera housing.
- Requires loads of batteries.
- Very bulky and in many cases heavy.
Pros of a Compact Camera
- Very small and light.
- Auto focus and auto Zoom.
- Easy to use for beginners plus added features great for seasoned photographers.
- No presetting required for point and shoot photography.
Cons of a Compact Camera
- Slower shutter response.
- No support for a larger external flash.
- Not suitable for low light photography but some do have special low light settings.
- Most high end photo editing programs do not support specialized compact camera features like RAW image file.
Each manufacturer has their own specific RAW coding format. High end software support high end equipment mostly.
Overall, a high end compact camera can compete with a low end DSLR when you just compare final images side by side in normal photo taking conditions. Extreme low light or difficult lighting conditions will always have a DSLR camera win most of the time. With all of this being said, is a DSLR the best choice? It can be if you are familiar with various aspects of the hardware and photo techniques but can be very daunting if you are just learning the steps. If you are a novice or have never used a DSLR or even an SLR, I would learn a few steps first from someone that has experience before jumping into a DSLR. A high end compact camera can still do wonders for you.