Considering that many of the different types of compact digital cameras that are available on the market today generally offer good image quality, one might ask why step up to a digital SLR camera unless you fall into the category of being a hobby enthusiast or professional photographer? There are many benefits provided by shooting with a digital SLR (DSLR) camera compared to using a compact point and shoot model to capture your images. The key advantages are outlined below. 1) As a general rule digital SLR’s incorporate significantly larger imaging sensors compared to smaller point and shoot type cameras. Larger imaging sensors offer a number of advantages, including typically providing better image quality especially when used at higher ISO sensitivity settings under low light conditions. Comparing a compact camera featuring a smaller sensor to a digital SLR with a bigger sensor, and if both cameras offer the same megapixels, the greater surface area provided by the DSLR sensor means that each pixel can be designed to be larger and spread further apart on the sensor. In this respect all pixels are not created equal. Larger pixels that are not packed as closely together on a sensor provide enhanced light gathering ability generally resulting in improved fine detail, better colour, and less ‘graininess’ (digital noise) being visible in the final image. So if you are taking pictures of indoor sports, school plays, dim room interiors or in similar low light situations, capturing the image with a digital SLR pretty much guarantees superior results to using a point and shoot camera. 2) Digital SLR cameras offer faster response allowing users to capture the decisive moment more easily because of the enhanced technologies built in to these types of cameras. Even entry level digital SLR’s offer more advanced shooting capabilities compared to most compact cameras, such as quicker start up, faster and more precise focusing, superior continuous shooting capabilities, and quicker image processing. If your photographic interests include shooting fast moving subjects like kids running around, sports and wildlife, a digital SLR is designed to be the better option. 3) Other superior technologies frequently found in digital SLR cameras include; (a) improved metering systems for more consistent exposures (helps prevent images from being too bright or too dark), (b) broader range of manual control options, (c) advanced white balance for more accurate colour, and (d) superior in-camera image processing. Most digital SLR cameras also offer the ability to shoot in the camera’s native RAW file format providing added flexibility if you choose to edit and work with your images in an external software application. Combining all of these advanced technologies ensures that digital SLR cameras have a tendency to produce a finer level of image quality and provide users with the ability to capture the moment in a way that is simply not as achievable when using a point and shoot camera. 4) While all digital SLR cameras offer some degree of fully automatic control like Program exposure mode, most entry level models provide features that are specifically geared towards first time users, including; automatic Scene modes, built-in help guides, and more user friendly oriented operation. The advantage is that these types of cameras still provide novice photographers with the ability to take greater creative control when desired, and to benefit from the more advanced features and functions that are built-in while learning and exploring photographic techniques. Many of today’s digital SLR cameras feature Live View systems (similar to a point and shoot camera where you frame your subject using the camera’s LCD monitor) as opposed to composing your image by looking through a traditional viewfinder. Like compact camera models, more and more digital SLR cameras now also offer video-recording capabilities to compliment your photos. Digital SLR cameras however offer the added advantage of allowing you to record movies with a shallower depth of field to blur out distracting background detail, and to capitalize from the camera’s superior built-in technologies in the same way as when shooting still images. Point and shoot camera models do not tend to provide the same level of extended flexibility when recording movies.
5) Interchangeable lens cameras provide broad system compatibility with a wide range of accessories being available from each respective brand to provide users with greater photographic versatility. The most common accessories are optional lenses with typical choices ranging from fixed focal length primes and long-range zooms, to brighter lenses with large apertures for fast action and low light photography, and special application lenses for close up work or architecture. Another common digital SLR accessory worth investing in is an external flash unit for better quality, longer range and more advanced flash photography. So while compact cameras win in terms of portability and overall size and often provide good results for general photography, for greater consistency in achieving superior image quality and capturing the subject at the right moment, and enjoying added photographic versatility, a digital SLR is the recommended solution.