At what point do you go DSLR over P&S?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by feedmeister, Jul 27, 2009.

  1. feedmeister macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2008
    The nation's fastest 3G network
    So, I have a lingering question for everyone here:

    At what point do you go with a DSLR over a point and shoot camera and vice versa?

    I'd like to see what your opinions are. Do you have two cameras (1 DSLR, 1 P&S) or just one?

    Let me know how you guys (and gals) feel. I'm really interested in DSLR's but at this point, I think my Sony Cybershot DSC-W50 is doing alright.
  2. oyebto macrumors regular

    May 26, 2008
    ideally i would like to have a prosumer cam with me all the time ( like canon G10) and only bring my DSLR for events. carrying a DSLR around with lens is taxing on shoulders.

    but now theres the olympus E-p1, so i guess its kinda a DSLR with a P and S size. best of both worlds, but not without limitations.
  3. jampat macrumors 6502a

    Mar 17, 2008
    If you always shoot in perfect lighting conditions with posed people PnS works really well. If you want to shoot in marginal light or take candid shots (DSLR esentially removes shutter lag) DSLR has a clear advantage. DSLR is a PITA to carry around and makes you a target for a mugging.

    I treat cameras like bikes, I have a crappy one to have with me that gets the job done and the good one that I use when I am going specifically to take pictures (or go riding). Each has it's place, I am not going to carry a DSLR (and lenses) everywhere I go.

    Any old PnS cameras I have kicking around get left places so I always have a camera (ie. one in the car, one at my apt, one at gf's apt, etc). That way I always have some sort of camera available.
  4. Chappers macrumors 68020


    Aug 12, 2003
    At home
    I keep a little P&S for general snapping. But when it comes to all round quality and speed - dSLR is a clear winner.
  5. joepunk macrumors 68030


    Aug 5, 2004
    a profane existence
    When the noise level in p&s cameras become totally unbearable and nasty. Also camera manufactures and the public still (imho) seem to not realize that megapixles are not everything.

    I mean did Canon really need to up the MP of their G10 to 14 when the G9's 12 was perfectly fine.

    And then in the really compact cameras we are getting 43 MP/cm² pixel density :eek:

    My powershot A590is is 32 MP/cm² pixel density and even the littlest of low light (using ASA 200) the packed pixels show up.

    That's why I use my Nikon D50 for concert photography when I can.
  6. UnclePaulie macrumors regular

    Apr 6, 2004
    LA, CA
    I used to use a Nikon D90 whenever I went on any planned trip, and brought a small point & shoot (Sony Cybershot T77) whenever I was at a social gathering and knew I'd be risking the safety of the SLR. I recently went the route of the Olympus E-P1, which I take everywhere I used to take the D90. It's lighter on the shoulders, but I haven't brought it to a more social event, and I'm not sure I will.
  7. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    For me it was an easy answer

    The time for DSLR was when the P&S failed to fit my needs. Specifically for shots that needed the flash. I found that the shutter lag was too much and only a DSLR was able to capture the shots I was looking for. The battery life was another issue, the P&S doesn't really have good battery life at least compared to my Nikon
  8. canonguy macrumors member

    Jun 13, 2009
    I agree the G10 is a great camera if you are asking this question. It will allow you grow at your own pace. It offers the same manual settings you will find on a rebel and better auto–modes. The Panasonic Lumix is another choice... excellent picture quality, or the Nikon P90. Sony, Olympus,Fuji...they all have similar cameras but the picture quality isn't as good.

    Advantages of advanced p&s:
    -easier to get good pictures
    -manual functions and priority modes allow you to grow
    -more available zoom (without changing lenses)

    If you are planning to use auto–modes, a P&S is the way to go. If you know how to utilize a DSLR in full manual mode then go for it. No one can make the decision for you, only you know what you need. If you are ready for a DSLR, get one... it is by far the superior camera, but I would urge you to stay away from the cheap ones, you will outgrow them quickly. Digital cameras have about a six month shelf–life.
  9. JFreak macrumors 68040


    Jul 11, 2003
    Tampere, Finland
    I always use DSLR, don't even have a P&S right now. That said, I've been eyeing the waterproof Canon PowerShot D10 that I could take with me to harsh conditions.
  10. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    For me, the switch from PnS to SLR was due to the little ones outrunning the capabilities of the PnS. Nothing is more excruciating than having the little ones posed perfectly, but one of the following happens:

    a. while waiting for the flash to recharge, the little ones run away.

    b. the little ones run away in between the time it takes to press the shutter release and the time the photo is actually taken.

    c. the photo is unusable due to low light induced graininess.

    We supplemented our PnS with a dSLR ... but the wife doesn't really like the it. Too bulky, too much to carry around, hassle to switch lenses, etc. So we're in the market for a compact superzoom PnS. Actually looking at the Panny ZS3 (with 720p movie mode).
  11. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    Just curious as to your thoughts here. What features do the entry-level SLRs lack that cause you to make this statement? I've been using my XTi for over a year now and I don't think I've outgrown it ... but granted, I'm a glorified snapshooter with ambitions of taking more artsy shots.

  12. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    load of crap. the lowliest of SLRs since ~2005 outperform the best of the point-&-shoots. just because lower models are refreshed more often doesn't mean the old ones are obsolete.

    since 2005, this is what sensor technology has improved:
    - big improvements in extremely high-ISO noise handling (ISO 3200, 6400), which just came out what, last year in the D700, D3, and 5DII
    - more megapixels

    to be fair, Nikon has greatly improved at higher ISOs after switching to CMOS sensors, and Canon has only recently started putting sensors on-par with its prosumer cameras in its consumer models (since the 450D/XSi), but it's not like their cameras were junk before then.

    so what have we gained since 2005? a bunch of jpeg options, Live View, and AF adjust. hardly ground-breaking.
  13. srf4real macrumors 68040


    Jul 25, 2006
    paradise beach FL
    Once I realized that the image quality I desired was never going to come out of a p+s camera, it was time to buy a dslr. That was the primary reason for me. The added features of faster lenses and lightning fast response times with shutter actuation... I do not ever use a p+s anymore.
  14. gatepc macrumors 6502


    Apr 11, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA
    I use my DSLR all the time I never owned a P&S actually. I always like to have full control over what my products do I don't trust automatic systems so the first camera I ever owned was a SLR and I learned how to operate it. I guess for people that just want something small and lightweight or for people that want the camera to do all the work P&S's are fine but I think for people who want to change all the settings and don't want the camera to do what it thinks is "right" DSLRs are the best choice :) The size of my A200 does not really bother me so I bring it with me a lot when I leave the house even if I am not planning a photo shot trip. When I have no camera though and I want to get a pic of something I just use my cellphone camera ( yeah I know ) but I mean its rare that I need a camera and I didn't bring one and if I didn't bring one the photo's that need to be taken at such said place probably are not important enough to matter that I am using a crappy cell phone camera.
  15. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    I went from an analogue P&S (Canon something) to an old used SLR camera (Praktica MTL-2 and 5/b) with several lenses.

    I bought my first digital camera in 2007, a Kodak with two lenses. In hindsight it was crap and I longed for something better, so I got myself the Canon G9, which is an excellent pieces of P&S camera, but as time went on, I wanted to shot with SLRs again, so I got myself the EOS 450D.

    I just like the easiness of manually setting the shutter speed, aperture and iso with not more than two steps. The G9 allowed me to manually set all the things I wanted, but in too many steps to be comfortable.

    The better picture quality is good too, but for me it was not one of the main decision points.

    It's just easier to use an SLR than a point and shoot camera, for me at least, who finds DVD Studio Pro easier than iDVD or Avid easier than iMovie.

    PS: I although take my SLR everywhere I go, if I not forget it. I did it with my analogue one, into classes, partying, doing projects. And now I do it with the EOS, to work, to lunch, always to toilets, as one never knows, what strange artsy things one can photograph.
  16. Mavimao macrumors 6502a


    Feb 16, 2005
    Lyon, France
    I went to film school in college where we used old 16mm cameras and complete manual control was all we had. That instilled a necessity in me to have complete control over f-stop, ISO, shutter speed, etc. I got a Nikon SLR which was wonderful but then Digital cameras started quickly taking over. I was given a P&S Fuji FinePix A330 for Christmas 04 and I took it to a lot of parties and events where I just wanted to but a camera in my pocket and not worry about lugging around a huge SLR. But this past year I wanted something better and so I bought a Canon SX10 IS which totally fits my needs/budget/manual control freakiness.

    It can be a tad too large so I still carry the Fuji since I could care less if beer were to ever spill on it :D
  17. dmmcintyre3 macrumors 68020

    Mar 4, 2007
    Point and shoots:


    Small and light and "easy"


    Takes long for the lens to open, slow zooming, Junk quality sensors and lenses. Noisy pictures, Small apertures (big numbers), Lots of menu usage to do the simplest of things. Less handy (It practically goes in your pocket or case when not in use)



    More handy (do not have to take it out of case or your pocket if you have it around your neck) Turns on faster (remove lens cap, flip switch, push shutter button[takes less time than a point and shoot takes to extend the lens), easier manual controls, less menu operation, Faster zooming, Any lens you can think of.


    Huge and heavy, Sensor gets dirty from changing lenses, Ask someone to take a picture and they ask how.

    I prefer:

    A DSLR because I find them easier to use. I can carry a DSLR around my neck and forget about it until I take the picture. It takes the picture instantly if it is focused. The PnS takes forever to turn on and take the picture.
  18. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2008
    the last part is a funny read that is such non sense. People who actually believe that garbage have to have the best, and/or have more money than skill, which probably goes hand in hand.

    That said, you have some made some great points. Dunno why the last part was said.
    I had a FUji S602Z and that was a great camera. Fuji has amazing color rendition and quality. I think you forget that they make VELVIA, Sensia, Reala, etc. I guess if you dont shoot film, you dont realize this. Sure the Fuji S5 is based on a Nikon body, but its' ccd sensor is Fuji.

    So what you are saying is basically all cameras on the market are obsolete? the 5D2 is 9 months old, the 1D3 (1DS3) are all older than a year, the D300 and D3 are all "old".

    You give a PRO an XSi and a "pro" a 50D, the PRO will have hands down better results.

    To the OP, i went from SLRs (DSLR) to a G9, so I found it frustrating. if i had both a G9 and a DSLR, i would choose the DSLR everytime. Weight is not really a problem to me. I have hiked 20 miles with an EOS 3 + 16-35L, EOS 30D + 24-70L, tripod and other gear...not fun, but it was doable..:)
  19. davegregory macrumors regular

    Jul 7, 2009
    Burlington, Ontario
    It wasn't that long ago that I bought my first camera. It was a Pentax Optio S50. It was small, compact, easy to carry around. And it totally sucked in low light. Low light is where I find a lot of P & S cameras fall short. This isn't always the case, but it's a problem for most. They have tiny little sensors that are just jam-packed with megapixels. After, I quickly became annoyed with the Pentax, I decided to buy a dSLR. I bought a Rebel XT for like $550 or something. It wasn't terribly expensive, and I had lenses from my father who had a film Rebel S. So, I went out and started taking photos and I was much more pleased with the results than I was with the Pentax. Especially in lower light situations, not that the Rebel XT was amazing in low light, just that it couldn't possibly be worse than the Pentax. Nowadays I keep both a P&S and a dSLR. If I'm just going for a walk or out with friends somewhere I take my point and shoot. It's a Panasonic Lumix LX3, and my dSLR is a Canon 40D. I'm happy with both. It's really a matter of convenience. You can get really good pictures with a P&S, composition is composition, doesn't matter if you're using a Hassleblad or an iPhone. But I typically find that images from an SLR are sharper and crisper. It sounds like you want to get a dSLR and you're just looking for validation (it's ok, we've all done it). Go for it, you'll be happy with the purchase I'm sure. But definitely keep a point and shoot handy. The best camera is the one you have with you. Sometimes you just can't carry a DSLR around.
  20. feedmeister thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2008
    The nation's fastest 3G network
    I've used up all my validations on the MBP and iPhone. :p

    For me, I'm definitely a fan of the quality, but I definitely don't want to be the guy with a DSLR around my neck everywhere I go. I like to be able to do spontaneous and random things, but with a DSLR, that's just not that convenient. Plus it makes it seem like I'm only where I am to take pictures and not do anything else :p

    It would make my day if there were a DSLR that was P&S size. Or at least a P&S that had the quality of a DSLR.
  21. Acsom macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2009
    If you want snapshots and memories, point and shoot cameras will give you better results than they ever have in the entire history of photography.

    If you want to take photographs; I mean, if you want to make something that is more than a cataloging of a thing or event; get the DSLR.
  22. feedmeister thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2008
    The nation's fastest 3G network
    Why is it so hard for things to be multi-purpose :p

    My main point is that I want to be able to take photographs of snapshots and memories. That would be ideal. I don't want to have to worry, "Oh, I only took snapshots of this because I didn't have my DSLR or whatever on me."

    Why can't they have a PSLR? :p

    (BTW, sorry to all the photo enthusiasts I just offended with my logic of taking pictures. :p)
  23. Acsom macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2009
    I understand completely. I don't really burn to take great photographs. Thing is, you can take great photographs with a p&s... you can take great photographs with a p&s left on full auto. Just concentrate on good composition. Get the subject out of the middle of the frame, look for cool patterns, watch your leading lines. Look for contrasts, either in colors, or textures, or in subject matter. Look for moments of strong emotion. Look for things that are unusual.

    Here are some examples. These are nothing special, just vacation pictures, shot in jpg with a p&s (Canon G9) on full auto. All I did was try to frame them nicely. Again, just snapshots, not works of art. But a lot better than they were before I started thinking about what I was doing.




  24. Acsom macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2009
    My Fuji 602z was one of the finest cameras I've ever used; PHENOMENALLY rich color, excellent low light performance for the time, it shot RAW, and don't forget, 5 fps in burst mode! That camera captured 2 vacations to Hawaii in full splendor. My only beef with it was the size; too big to be a really useful point and shoot. It was superseded by the Nikon P5000, then the Canon G9. Both do some things better than the Fuji did. But that Fuji was great, the best 3.9mp I ever saw.
  25. swingerofbirch macrumors 68040

    Oct 24, 2003
    The Amalgamated States of Central North America
    I'm curious to know about this as well, as I just gave my Canon SD800 to my dad. It takes really great pictures, and I thought I might get whatever is the current elph camera for myself, but I was also looking at the Ti1 camera from Canon.

    My main question is (I was about to start another thread for this, but hopefully it fits here) is if I use the DSLR in the auto modes it has is there an advantage over a good PnS like the SD800 I had. Will the pictures be noticeably better, cleaner, sharper, whatever, better in some way? And how often do DSLR users go away from auto modes and fine tune all the settings? I would like to learn to do that, but I don't want to start off just taking crappy shots all the time as I'm learning.

    Also, one last question, with my point and shoot, the main problem I had--and I believe this is a very common problem--but I'm not well read on it--is that the pictures I took outside were always amazing. However, with indoor dark shots the flash would make everything look really white, not natural at all. If I turn off the flash, the pictures come out blurry though, as if maybe the image stabilization requires the flash to work. Is this problem somehow alleviated with fine tuning on a DSLR?

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