So you've had a cheap Point-and-Shoot camera for ages and are looking to upgrade. But should you go with another Point and Shoot (because, they are easy to use and don't have any complicated features), or should you get a more expensive, but also more capable, DSLR camera?
Digital SLR cameras offer a lot of extra features that simply aren’t available on a standard digital point and shoot camera. When you purchase a digital SLR, you gain more control over the lens, a faster picture taking rate, better automatic and manual focus modes, and a bunch of smaller features that you don’t realize are important until you start relying on them every day. Having said this, many people own a camera that’s too powerful for their needs. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to know why you’re upgrading your camera before you decide to spend more money.
Always Have A Specific Photo In Mind
I have one rule when it comes to buying new camera equipment. Always have a specific photo you want to take in mind. What do I mean by this? Think of a picture you want to take, and if you can’t take that picture with your current camera setup, buy all of things you need to buy in order to be able to take that picture. Back when I decided I needed to switch to a digital SLR camera, I was getting frustrated with my point and shoot’s slow responsiveness in taking action shots. I wanted something that would take a continual stream of action shots for a longer period of time. In order to get a faster picture taking rate, I had to upgrade to a digital SLR.
Certain shots simply aren’t possible without a digital SLR camera. Most point and shoot cameras don’t allow you to switch out the lens (or force you to use less optimal conversion lenses), and this can become a huge limiting factor. When you are stuck with the relatively small in-house lens on your point and shoot, you lose a good portion of the zoom range and quite a few of your aperture options. A digital SLR camera will allow you to switch out the lens so you can zoom in further and open the aperture more.
There are other advantages of a DSLR camera that aren't as easy to produce on a Point and Shoot. For example:
Subject is in focus with a blurred out background
I am sure you have seen these kinds of pictures before, wondering how to get them. Have you ever seen a portrait picture with a very crisp and clear face in front of an out-of-focus background? These kinds of portraits are great because they always isolate the subject and never distract. Unfortunately, they are only possible when you have a digital SLR camera. To get this shot, you need a lens with a very large aperture (small F-number of F5 or lower). The kinds of lenses with bigger apertures are only available on digital SLR cameras. You need to upgrade in order to use them.
If you want a bigger zoom range, you’re going to have to get a digital SLR. The lens that comes with most point and shoot cameras usually doesn’t allow you to zoom in past 2x magnification. The manufacturers know this and market a digital zoom of 8x or greater. However, as a follower of my tips, you already know that you should not use the digital zoom. There are telephoto lenses for digital SLRs that allow you to zoom in much further. On top of that, you get wider apertures for better close-up portraits with these lenses.
Action sequence shots
Yet another example. When you make the move up to a digital SLR, you also get a faster continuous photo fire rate. Many point and shoot cameras top out at about 2 pictures per second. When you get a digital SLR, you can take pictures anywhere from 3 to 10 frames per second. Just frame the shot, hold the shutter down, and keep ‘em coming. It's great to be able to take a sequence of photos, and just keep the best one.
Digital SLR cameras are considerably better than their point and shoot counterparts, but they are only better for certain kinds of pictures. If you don’t foresee the need for a greater zoom range, wide-open aperture shots with blurred out backgrounds, or a fast photo taking ability, you probably won't need to upgrade.
You may also want to consider the following. One of the biggest advantages of using a point and shoot is its portability. You can put it in your pocket and take photos anywhere. When you get a digital SLR, the amount of camera equipment you carry starts to get out of hand before you realize it. If you don’t like the idea of carrying more camera gear everywhere you go, a digital SLR might not be the best camera choice for you.
As soon as you get the feeling that more of the shots you want are out of your reach than within it, it’s a good time to consider purchasing a digital SLR. Do all of your research and be 100% certain that the problem lies with the camera, and not with the photographer, before you put your money down on a nice setup. If you do decide to get a new camera, enjoy it! Even the most basic digital SLR is much more of a pleasure to use than most point and shoot models.
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