Home Digital Photography Basics SLR or Point and Shoot?
SLR or Point and Shoot?

The question of the century: Should I get a point and shoot or an SLR? There are pros and cons to both, but neither will can satisfy 100% of the masses. Read through this list and find out which is best for you.


  • BETTER IMAGE QUALITY - A major reason why SLRs have better image quality is the sensor size. Larger sensors in Canon SLRs (such as the Canon 5d) means each of the millions of pixels is a lot larger than it's point and shoot counter part. Larger pixels means they have a better ability to capture light, thus they don't have to be set too sensitive. When a pixel is too sensitive, that makes it susceptible to blowing out and causing grainy spots in your photos, known in digital photography as "noise".
  • BETTER LENSES - Not all lenses perform the same. The specs of the lens on a point and shoot camera may sound fantastic but they are not up to par with Canon SLR lenses.
  • SPEED - The boot up, focus and shooting time of an average Canon point and shoot is sloooow! By the time you turn on the camera, focus and shoot, the moment may have passed. An SLR will boot, focus and shoot in less than a second! Most of the lag from what is called shutter lag. When you press the button on an SLR, the image is captured almost instantly. Try that with a point and shoot and you'll notice a pause before the picture is taken. Often times you'll miss the shot or your subject's eyes will be closed.

* BEST IF: Speed, image quality & low light situations are the main concerns.


  • SIZE - It'll fit in your pocket, purse or glove box. Try that with a Canon Rebel. Not gonna happen easily.
  • PRICE - The whole camera is a lot cheaper than just an average lens. Decent point and shoots range from $100-$600 (i.e Canon sd1100). A decent SLR will start at around $500 and run upwards of a few thousand dollars. note: accessories usually are specific to that camera and can't be used with future models. Most Canon SLR accessories are interchangeable if you stick with the same brand.
  • VIDEO - Decent video capabilities that. SLRs have none. (correction: The new Canon 5d Mark II will have HD video capabilities, though not yet released)

* BEST IF: Portability and price are the main concerns

The bottom line:

Find a Canon that suits your needs. You don't need a Canon 40d if you have $300 to spend on a travel camera. You don't need a point and shoot if you are going take pictures of an indoor basketball game. Each situation is different. Get what will work for you depending on your digital photography needs.

Ask yourself:

  • What's your budget?
  • Is the size of the camera an issue?
  • What will you be using it for?
  • Will you ever use the camera in a setting other than Auto?


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