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Point-and-Shoot Compact Camera or a DSLR: Which One Should You Buy?

With the ever-improving camera and photographing technology, the decision boundary between a compact and DSLR camera has become so thin it’s very hard to decide which one to get. Amateur photographers with point and shoot cameras are becoming really good at taking photos.

And professionals are also not sticking to the one thing or the other. This juggling between two types of cameras is something the pros have adapted to.

However, for the everyday photographer, the real question is a compact camera or DSLR, which one they should buy?

In the last post, we talked about 10 reasons why you should buy a point and shoot camera. This post will be geared towards those who are not sure which type of camera they should choose.

This will serve you as a direct comparison between a point and shoot camera and a DSLR. After this, you will be able to figure out which one fits you the best.

At the end of this little article, I’ll provide you with my thoughts and recommendations as well. So, stick together.

Mirrorless vs DSLR vs Compact Camera

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Understanding DSLR: What’s That Even Mean?

DSLR, which stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex camera is commonly known as the camera that is geared towards the professionals. With interchangeable lens and other gears, this camera looks and feels like a dream for photo photography geeks.

Previously, DSLRs were mainly used by professionals. With recent price drop (thanks to improved camera quality in compact cameras and smartphone cameras), DSLR has become something which is well within the realm of amateur photographers.

Read: Top Point and shoot camera FAQ

Now there are different types of DSLRs at different price points. Ranging from entry-level DSLR to the most advanced DSLR, it has now become very mainstream in the photography community (which is a good thing obviously).

Well, now that that’s out of the way, let’s see what DSLR has to offer for us and where it hits a stumble.

Advantages of DSLR Camera

DSLR may be expensive but this thing has its own perks and benefits. Carrying a large camera with equipment can lead to some awesome pictures and benefits that normal ones won’t be able to pack in. Wondering what the benefits are? Let’s discuss. The following are some of the core advantages of a DSLR camera -

Get great image quality with DSLR camera

Image Quality is a Major Upgrade than the Compact Counterpart

This perhaps is the most appealing factor of any DSLR camera. Almost every DSLR features big and powerful sensors with very high pixel counts. Also, most of them feature variable aperture settings.

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So, image quality in all types of lighting scenario is amazing. DSLR cameras power through Low light and night photography with ease. Pictures taken from a DSLR are also plenty sharp with great details and dynamic range.

For Professional grade, photography DSLR is the obvious better choice.

Interchangeable Lenses for DSLR camera

Interchangeable Lenses Give the Photographer Much Needed Freedom

Another great feature of any DSLR camera is the interchangeability of lenses. With this, you can adapt to different types of scenario. Based on your requirement you can change your camera within a minute or two.

I don’t know about you, but this to me seemed very powerful. This flexibility allows you to be ready for everything. Such as zoom lenses for wildlife photography, wide-angle lenses for shooting interiors, wide aperture lenses for portraits, etc.

DSLR is basically “One camera to rule them all”.

DSLR camera settings

Different settings and Manual Control

One of the main reasons why professional photographers like DSLRs more than anything is manual control. Every DSLR comes with a bunch of different settings and manual functionalities.

They come with in-built settings which are fairly easy to control and get used to. Settings like ISO, shutter speed, aperture, white balance, etc. are all tunable. This allows you to be ready for all sorts of scenarios.

Also, over time, while you get used to manual settings are know which nobs to twist and turn, your photography game will peak as well. We all know how good a product can come out from the hands of someone who knows what they are doing.

DSLR cameras have long battery life

Long Battery life is a Plus

In the early days, battery life was a huge concern for DSLRs. They were just not up to the mark. Well, considering the amount of raw power it had, one could hardly blame those limited powered batteries.

However, this scenario has changed. DSLRs now have much-improved battery life thanks to the technological advancement of Li-Ion battery. Now batteries are much more powerful and they last way longer than before.

Filters for DSLR

Easy Filter Applications Give the Photos a Boost

Filters have become a really important aspect of photography lately. With filters such as ND filters, you can get longer exposure which comes really handy when it comes to taking images of water or clouds. DSLRs have the ability to easily filter applications. You can buy many filters according to your need. Applying them are as simple as inserting them in-front of the lens.

Higher Resale Value

DSLRs have much higher resale value than point and shoot cameras. This comes really handy when you wish to switch out your gears with something better.

They look Really professional

If you want to look professional even if you are a beginner, a DSLR would be a way to go about it. Not only will you look cool, but also it will help you land more clients.

Disadvantages of DSLR Camera

Like everything in the world, DSLRs also have some major disadvantages. Trust me, it’s not all “Sunny” around this part of the river. Let’s take a look at the most prominent of them.

DSLR cameras can be bulky

Larger size, Bulky, and Heavy for Users to Carry

DSLRs cameras by nature are big, bulky and heavy. And if you are a traveler who loves to take pictures, I’d highly recommend you stick to something smaller in size.

They take up most of the space in your travel bag and are also very inconvenient for quick snapping. Also, you’d have to consider/ pay extra for all the equipment’s that come with it.

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Moreover, they will definitely weigh you down as you travel. At some point, it will only feel like a burden to you and you will most likely leave the camera behind. This can certainly cost you from snapping some precious moments.

They Are Expensive

DSLRs are expensive. It does not matter how much the price drops, they are still expensive. If you are just a casual shooter, it would be really impractical to buy a DSLR over something else. Moreover, breakage happens all the time and the repair costs are also very expensive.

DSLR camera accessories

Extra Accessories Are More often than Not Needed

A barebone DSLR with no extra goodies to complement the camera is pretty much useless. That’s why you absolutely need to buy some extra accessories. Sometimes you have to buy spare ones just for being flexible. The cost adds up to a huge total as you go along.

Steep Learning Curve for the Newbies

There’s absolutely no denying that DSLR has a very steep learning curve. This most certainly discourages people from getting into photography. It can make photography which is something beautiful very scary.

Specks of Dust and Spots Are Often Visible and Degrades the Piece

It’s really easy to get your sensors all dusty and noisy as they are very prone to dust. This can result in unusable sensors. Yes, one can purchase a cleaning apparatus. But again, these things are costly in their own right. Plus, it’ll bulk up your kit even more. It’s a different matter if you have the expenses and space for one.

Have and Have Nots of a Compact camera

Compact camera (Also known as point and Shoot camera) is much smaller in size compared to the big brother DSLR. They have become a norm for beginner photography lately thanks to the advancements made in mobile photography. As they are quite affordable in price, they are a perfect fit for beginners.

If you are interested in compact cameras review, click here to read more about them.

Advantages of a Compact Camera

Compact cameras have many benefits over a DSLR or a smartphone camera. Well, it depends on how you look at things. Sure, they can’t do “All the Things” a DSLR does but hey, you get what you pay for. Let’s take a look at The obvious advantages you’ll have once you buy one.

Size and Weight Play a Crucial Part

Lightweight and Portable

The main selling point of any compact camera is its compact and lightweight nature. they are so small you can easily carry them in your pocket. In the events of you come across something amazing, you can easily take a quick snap with it. This gives it a great advantage over any DSLR camera.

Also, they extremely travel friendly. As they take little to no space in your bag, you can take them to any place without having to worry about cost and carriage issues. I’d say they are the best camera for traveling.

Affordable to Say the Least

This goes without saying. Compact cameras are much cheaper than a standard DSLR. As they house less electrical components, they cost less. As a result, manufacturers can sell them at a much cheaper price than DSLR. There are now compact cameras that cost less than $100. If money is an issue you should definitely go with a point and shoot camera.

Ease of use is One Aspect to Consider

Compact cameras are very easy to use. With both auto mode and manual mode, they provide you with much user-friendly experience. Taking a photo with a point and shoot camera is as simple as a click on the shutter button. If you don’t like manual stuff, you can always opt for the auto mode.

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However, if you are someone who loves to finetune everything, manual control is there as well (although, they are not as robust as a DSLR).

Compact cameras are convenient for the beginners

Convenience for the Beginners

Convenience is another strong point of a point and shoot camera. With a bunch of fine-tuned settings and modes, compact cameras take the hassle out of the photography game. I always believed photography should always be about taking pictures and nothing else. Compact cameras tend to do exactly that.

Ability to Take Raw Images

In case you were wondering whether compact cameras can take raw images or not. The answer is YES! Some of them actually can. This gives you the ability to post process the raw image on your PC for superior quality images. Images that contain much more details and dynamic range.

Automatic Functions Make Your Lives Easier

Manual settings can be very intimidating for new users. All compact cameras feature an auto mode. They might have a different name for it. But to its core, they are auto mode. In case you didn’t know, auto mode is basically autopilot for photographers. What they do is set everything to an industry standard proven setting. This allows even the beginners to take killer photos every time.

Read: Point and Shoot camera vs. Mirrorless camera

Very Quiet Operations won’t Annoy Users

I honestly hate the noise DSLRs make with every click. They are loud and very annoying. Luckily, compact cameras operate very quietly. As everything is digital in point and shoot camera. It takes noise completely out of the equation.


Fixed Lens and a built-in Flash

Switching out the lens is great and all but it can be both costly and cumbersome. But having a fixed lens can also remove all the hassles. Moreover, all compact cameras come with a built-in flash. It comes really handy while taking night or lowlight photos.

Great for Events and Parties

The compact camera is hands down the best option for events and parties. You can take more photos than anyone if you have a compact camera. More importantly, you don’t look like a stalker with a camera (no offense to anyone btw).

Disadvantages of a Compact Camera

When you offer something at a lower than usual price, you are bound to compromise on certain aspects of the product. Compact cameras make obvious compromises as well. The followings are some “Not so Good” parts about the cameras. No, these are not negatives but mere shortcomings.

Camera form factors

Smaller Sensors than A DSLR

Even in 2021 most compact cameras come with small sensors. Those that have large sensors cost much higher than any base models. Even those that come with large sensors are not as good as a DSLR. This can certainly be a bummer for some people.

Not Having the Ability to Change Gears When Needed

Although recent models of point and shoot cameras come with the ability to switch or add extra gears, most of them don’t. Moreover, adding gears can make compact camera become heavy and bulky which can destroy the essence of a compact camera.

Less Manual Control over a Photo Than the DSLR

The manual controls that come with DSLR cameras are far superior to any compact camera. They are more robust and gives you pinpoint fine-tuning ability.

Slow Shutter Speed

Compact cameras take photos with lesser shutter speed than DSLR. Also, they have a slower focus speed than DSLR. Understand that these are low hanging fruits that “Almost” anyone can afford. Plus, the lenses are the default and can’t be changed. Some models do take multiple photos with a click but they’re not really enough to compare the shutter speed with a full-blown DSLR piece.

Bad Resale Value

Compact cameras also have less resale value than DSLR. This does come in the ways of future updates. So, they are basically you buy once and then you buy again.

There are upsides to this as well. Compact cameras are generally for beginners. A novice photographer takes two to three years in perfecting himself/herself. So, buying a compact camera, for the time being, is a safe bet. You don’t have to sell it for the time period.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

This brings us to an end of direct comparison between the compact camera and DSLR camera. As promised, I’ll give you my suggestions on whether you should get a compact camera or a DSLR.

Buy a Compact camera if: you are a beginner, don’t like manual controls, and always on the move.

Buy a DSLR if: you are a professional or intermediate photographer with a decent knowledge of manual controls and you don’t have any issue with carrying a dedicated bag/ box for your camera gear.

So, what are your thoughts on this post? Did I miss anything? Do you have anything to add up? Feel free to let your thoughts be known in the comment section below.

As always happy snapping.

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