SLR vs. point and shoot
I'll give some back ground here as to myself..

I bought my first 35 mm Cannon Rebel Camera for Mother's day in 2000.

I took lots of classes and did black and white photos had my own darkroom in my basement. My husband bought me Cannon EOS Elan II E with several lenses used..

I thenk went on to inherit the Cannon T70,& Cannon A1 w/ several lenses and flash sysetm.I also got a used Nikon F3 with a several lenses.The picture quality of the Nikon is superior to the Cannon's for color photos..

I ended up buying my first digital camera in 2002 the Nikon coolpix 4500..

I took several classes and also was in a foto group where most of us had this same camera.For the most part it was ok..

I had a 5 yr warranty on it and the thing was back and forth for repairs about 5 x's in the time I have owned it..

My major complaints are that is sucks in low light situations. I mean it's REALLY bad..

In fact I don't even bring it with me anymore to indoor sporting events, school plays etc.What it excels at is macro photos and outdoor natural lighting photos..

My husband has not liked the camera from the moment I got it home. Although he really does not shoot it very often so that didn't matter to me.The quality of the photos has always been good in my opinion..

I gave up my darkroom for the most part(still have all the equipment but it has not been used since 2005)..

So for the most part the 35 mm cameras have been sitting collecting dust. I take them out as a back up for important events..

I am not a pro photographer by any means but at the same time not a beginner..

I have taken classes and have some knowledge. I have entered local art shows and placed well in them..

I also like to take photos of my children. I have been paid to photograph people's kids (babies). The last photo shoot was awful as my camera just sat there (camera lag & downloading the pic to the camera car) and I missed lots of good shots!.

I have to set up a place that is natural lighting. I can't shoot in any dark spaces or a room w/out windows..

That being said I am ready to move on. The Nikon 4500 has been w/ me since 2002 I feel like it has gotten it's money worth & possibly would pass it onto my kids or just keep it for macro photos. (that seems to be what I enjoy photographing the most flowers).

I am looking for a camera that I can take with me everywhere & that I can use anywhere from the baseball field on the weekend to indoor volleyball or go make some extra money with to photograph babies/kids!.

I feel I am ready for a DSLR. So I have begun research on this subject and will most likely as I posted before go with the Cannon or Nikon. Although like some of the other posters the Sony is really a good price & the point and shoots I have seen do really well...hmmmm.....

But my husband is questioning my decision and wonders why I can't get by with a new point and shoot.I guess I wonder what your opinion is.Based on what I do with it as a hobby.I do like to hand hold, I don't like to use a tripod..

With 3 kids I will spend a fair amount of time at their school plays, or music concerts.I like to photograph landscape as well, nature, my dogs and cat too!.

I honestly understand buying a system but see myself probably upgrading no matter what I buy in 5 yrs or so. (new camera body or to a DSLR if I buy a point and shoot).

Am getting caught up in wanting what everyone else has and marketing?.

Also if you do have a point and shoot preference for my situation I'd love to hear it..

Thank you in advance...

Comments (16)

Nah, I don't think you're getting caught up unless you want to get a $5,000 something-or-other. It sounds like you want a digital that will allow you to take better pictures in more situations than you're coolpix will allow. It also sounds like you want the same quality of images you had with your SLRs, only in digital..

You're not going to find the full quality in a point-and-shoot..

If you're done with film, sell off all you're film equipment except for lenses that are compatable with the dSLR (if any) you want to get and buy a dSLR..

You can do all the stuff you did in the darkroom with Photoshop (and others) without the cost of chemistry. For that matter, even paper and ink cartridges if you just select the images you want and have them printed somewhere else..

If I were your husband and I was given the choice of seeing money being spent on darkroom supplies or a dSLR, I think I would have to admit defeat and go with the dSLR... ..

Comment #1

My first camera that I liked and still think took quite good pics was the coolpix 950 and have some examples on my pbase site. Since then I went to the Fuji S2 and then the Fuji S3. I would recommend getting the Fuji S5 because of image quality and dynamic range which translates into very good tonal range in photos. Checkout examples of images from that camera and judge for yourself. Also because of wide dynamic range, it is very good in lowlight situations. Another choice would be Nikon D300.

For best lenses in lowlight situations, you want a lense that opens up to a wide aperture like a 30mm F/2 or 50/ F1.4 or 85 F/1.4 Getting a zoom lense with too great a range will begin to show in poorer quality the greater the range. I would keep the zoom limit to not greater than 3X. Just my opinion. And remember to get the lens at a constant aperture of F2.8 for best quality and lowlight use.Will

Comment #2

Any body who is willing to invest the amount of time and effort in learning photography should invest in the DSLR..

First look at the lenses you have now. How many of them will with with a DSLR. This really lowers to the overall cost. I'm not going to say look at this camera or that you should not need that kind of advice..

As for your husband other then the cost of the camera and lenses digital photography for the hobbiest is very inexpensive. A decent set of golf clubs costs more then you could get a good camera for and that's before you have made a payment for greens fees..

Secondly I truly wish I had a digital camera when my kids were little. I've got pictures but now where near what I would like to have had if I had a camera where I didn't have to pay 15 bucks for developing only to find I should through 50% of the shots away..

If money is tight look at the lenses you have and a used body. You could get a used Canon A digital Rebel 6.3MP with lens and accesories is on Ebay now for less then 400 bucks. A Canon 10D body is also availabe for under 500..

If the biggest images you are going to print are 8x10 6mp is fine..

Good luck.


Olympus E-510 and a bunch of stuff to hang on it...

Comment #3

What I think you are asking is whether or not a good p&s can take the same shot as a 6mp dslr, and when printed at a 8x10inch how do they compare..

The answer is yes no and maybe. I can illustrate this by the following real story which I found to be interesting..

In the summer of 2006 a pro working for a website and photo magazine went on a trip to hawaii. he took his canon20d, a dslr, and a canon s3IS, a good p&s super zoom. his intent was to shoot as many identical shots as possible with the 2 cameras and compare the results when he got home. before he went he said that the dslr should win in a walk. if for no other reason that the dslr has more mps..

What happened was the following: in 80% of the shots it was difficult to impossible to tell which camera shot which pic. the 80% however all had something in common. they were pics of everyday scenes or people or landscapes. there was not any closeups, heavy telephoto, macro or any other specialized images. for everyday shooting the super zoom did extremely well. BUT, when the dslr was able to switch lenses for a special use or add other gear to get a more optimized photo gear setup; there was simply no comparison.

In the remaining 20% the p&s could not compete on a one for one quality image basis. the p&s beyond the builtin features could not adapt well enough in very difficulkt conditions, but the dslr could..

So therefore as long as the user stays inside of the limits that a good p&s super zoom has the pics will generally be very good. once you try to take images that are pushing the design limits then the super zoom simply has no way to change to get any more performance..

Please note that the above is talking about a max print size of 8x10inches. this was the comparison used. if you increase the print size to 11x14 or 16x20 or 20x30 THEN the p&s would not be able to compete in even more situations and would be doing this faster as the print size went up...

Comment #4

Thank you for the great answers..

The issue is not necessarily the money on the DSLR for my husband it's the "need" vs. want I think..

This past mothers day he gave me the present of "pick whatever camera you want but do it right" in my mind though I do want to stay under the $900 ish mark and I would like to go w/ as many megapixels as I can. I am not sure how often I would go over 8x10 but being that I am going to keep whatever I buy for some time I think that would it would be wise to go to as many megapixels as I can afford at this time.We also travel to CO mountains every yr..

I miss that feeling of my slr where you hear the camera click the body feels good, and the picture is there when you snap it.That being said it's allot of money so I want to be very careful..

I just keep coming back to a Cannon but can't seem to make myself go out and spend the money.Women! LOL..

Comment #5


Why not just get the old film camera out and dust it, then put a couple of films through it but get them done by a serious lab and scanned to (say) 5 or 8MP?.

It sounds silly but you then might just have a better idea of what you want afterwards. A couple of rolls of film etc aren't going to break the bank and might just give you back your old viewpoint now up-dated by your digital experience. It might make the next decision easier, and it'll be a bit of fun....

Regards, David..

Comment #6

If there's any chance you will be charging people to photograph their kids, I'd definitely suggest a DSLR. It is more versatile (system lenses and accessories), it has an accurate viewfinder, and it will be far more responsive. When shooting kids - your own or anyone else's, you want a camera that responds instantly to your decision to shoot..

I think some people may find it weird if you showed up to do a family portrait shoot with a P&S camera - a few will have a better camera than you! (Probably with less knowledge - but it may be embarrassing)..

Out of the base range DSLR's I would recommend an Olympus. Low price (ie good value) and very small and light to carry around. BUT - they are not the best performers in low light, unless you are willing to use an after-shot noise reducer..

So if you are sure to want low-light possibilities, the Canon or Nikon may be better. (I own the Olympus E-420 & E-520, but not the Canon or Nikon equivalents so I cannot speak with experience). The main reason I went with Olympus is that they are so small and light, they are the least cumbersome to carry around whenever we are on a family outing. The person who recommended the Fuji S5 is also correct - it's a great portrait/wedding tool, but larger and more expensive..

You need to do a bit more research, especially handling the cameras before making a final decision. As usual, most people here will recommend their chosen system and you have to be comfortable with the equipment you choose..

But for the uses that you state, I would definitely choose a DSLR over a P&S..

Hope that helps..


Comment #7

I went DSLR and then went back to point-n-shoot because for my needs, my point-n-shoot choice works better for me..

I bought an Olympus E-500 2-lens kit, and I really liked this camera and system. I wish the E-500 had the in-body stabilization of the E-510 and new E-520, but neither of those models were available back then. The DSLR learning curve wasn't anywhere near as tough as I expected it to be, and I came from a rather lowly Panasonic FZ1 superzoom that had minimal manual features. I quickly missed the OIS offered with the Panasonic, as well as the 12x zoom (35-420mm equiv). To get that same reach with my DSLR, I would've had to shell out a pretty penny for a new lens. I also found switching lenses to be annoying, because my superzoom had it all in one lens.

Given how many of the features of my FZ1 that I missed, I decided to try going back to the Panasonic FZ line with a Panasonic FZ50. Make no mistake about it, this camera is the king of the superzooms and one of about three cameras currently on the market that deserves to be called a "bridge" camera because it is definitely somewhere between the superzoom and DSLR category. I was (and still am) in heaven from the moment I held the FZ50. It handles like a DSLR (big nose, manual focus and zoom rings on the lens, nice grip, hotshoe for an external flash, etc.), but it has most of the bells-n-whistles of point-n-shoots (electronic viewfinder, tilt/swivel LCD, silent operation, nice video mode, etc.)..

Can the FZ50 outperform a DSLR? For my use, it usually does. It offers the usual lackluster performance in low light, and higher ISO shots are rather bad, but most of the time this can be corrected by using a powerful external flash, and when you can't use a flash...well, that's just a con with this type of camera and something you'd have to accept. I purchased two converters that screw directly on the FZ50's rigid lens barrel (the lens doesn't slide in and out when zooming or when turning the camera on/off): A 0.7x wideangle converter and a 1.7x teleconverter. This gives me the focal range of 24.5-704mm, all for the total price of $700. That's not just difficult to find in a DSLR it's impossible. I'm also enjoying the wonderful OIS again, which allows me to take very sharp shots at 420mm or even 704mm with ease.

This is something a DSLR will never be able to do, and I've even surprised myself on how much I use the video feature of this camera. It's really easy to transfer the videos to a computer and combine them all on a DVD..

Is the FZ50 a perfect solution? No. But a DSLR isn't a perfect solution either. Which is the better solution for you (point-n-shoot vs. DSLR) is ultimately your decision, but I just wanted to give you a been there, done that story for your consideration. Good luck with your decision! I'm definitely happy with mine...

Comment #8

Renting a DSLR? If your not sure, rent one for the weekend and play with it. Take the kids to the zoo or something and take along your point and shoot. Take some comparison shots. Being male I understand the need vs want thing. I also understand that if mama ain't happy ain't nobody happy!!!.

Also don't be afraid to look outside the Canikon group. Sony, OLY, and Pentax all make great cameras too and often you can get more features for less $$..

However if you can use your old lenses on the new DSLR stick with what you have..

JimOlympus E-510 and a bunch of stuff to hang on it...

Comment #9

For an all in one DSLR solution why not get yourself a Sony Alpha 350 which also offers live view on a flip out LCD. Instead of the kit lens, put an 18-250 zoom on it instead. The size and weight is almost identical to the best of the 'bridge cameras' - the Fuji S100FS. Take a look at my "back to the bridge camera" link for a blog style discussion of SLR vs bridge or P&S..

And if you have time to look at some of my other galleries you'll see I'm still often using a little old Canon s400 which, apart from severe picture taking lag, hits quite a number of those sweet spots..

John.Please visit me at:

Comment #10

How do you decide between 3 cameras? research. you research the cameras-find all available test reports and read them, go to maker's website and get all available info on the cameras and read it. (note-test reports by anybody are always done by HIS point of view, not yours. what he may want and like in a cameras may not be yours. therefore some of the things that he dislikes about the camera you may care less about; and also some things that he likes about the camera you may also care less)..

And this brings me to the most important factor in buying a camera. YOU rpt YOU rpt YOU. what do want to us the camera for? make up and write a list. what do you think you might be interested in in the future to take pictures of, besides what you think you will be taking pictures of now? add to the list. what features and abilities based on that list do YOU want in a camera? make and write a list..

NOW based on the 2 lists look at the cameras and compare them based on the lists you just made. and with that, what features and abilities do feel are the most important and desireable and you have to have? which cameras has them?.

Once you have done the above, ignore the recommendations of anybody else. anyone else is not buying the camera for your lists, YOU ARE. those are not their lists, they are yours, with your wants and needs and likes and dislikes, not theirs..

Why someone likes or dislikes a certain camera may not have anything to do with you..

What might be helpful from someone else is how they like or don't like a certain feature or ability in a certain camera. and why. how does that answer relate to you?.

Finally; MAKE YOUR DECISION. it will not be easier later, since you have all the information now...

Comment #11

1. You will NOT regret getting a DSLR. From what you say about yourself I think you are more than ready to move on from a point and shoot..

2. There are a lot of good DSLRs around especially the brands you mention and I think your uncertainty about making the "leap" will disappear once you start handling the cameras in-store..

3. DON'T shoot your kids or anyone else with a cannon (although a Canon is okay!)..

Comment #12

If you still have your lenses from the Canon and Nikon, Chose one of those that will accept your old lenses. With Nikon, you will need to go at least to the D80 for the older lenses to function properly. On the D60 and D40, they only work manually. Both make excellent DSLRs and I would chose the one you have the best lens collection to use..

I shot 35mm for 35+ years, bought a point and shoot digital and found myself using it all the time, but I missed what I could do with an SLR and the shutter lag drove me crazy. I went with a Sony Alpha because it accepted my old Minolta lenses. If I had a Nikon or Canon lens collection, that would have been my pick. The DSLR has it all over a P&S. IMO..

Comment #13

John farrar wrote:.

For an all in one DSLR solution why not get yourself a Sony Alpha 350which also offers live view on a flip out LCD. Instead of the kitlens, put an 18-250 zoom on it instead. The size and weight is almostidentical to the best of the 'bridge cameras' - the Fuji S100FS.Take a look at my "back to the bridge camera" link for a blog stylediscussion of SLR vs bridge or P&S.And if you have time to look at some of my other galleries you'll seeI'm still often using a little old Canon s400 which, apart fromsevere picture taking lag, hits quite a number of those sweet spots..

I wouldn't really think this is the best situation. I didn't like the review here on the 350. Also, LiveView sounds nice, but it's not the most ideal way to use DSRLs. They are still larger cameras with more controls. Also, if the OP wants the best quality, it's best to split the zoom range in 2 rather than trying to do with some all-in-one lens. I second what somebody suggested.

I wouldn't go with olympus since the 2x crop factor is too much IMO and I heard that their sensor is something like 40% smaller than APS-C...

Comment #14

Kimmy316 wrote:.

I just keep coming back to a Cannon but can't seem to make myself goout and spend the money..

Hi Kimmy:.

Thought this was an appropriate place to post. (As an aside, my first digital camera was a 4500. Loved it for what it was. No cameras from that era had decent low-light performance or shutter response)..

For low-light, fast response you've got to go with a DSLR. Since the Nikons below the D300/D3 aren't as solid low-light performers as their Canon counterparts and yes, it pains me to type that but truth is truth you're on the right track..

Fact is any of the recent Digital Rebel versions will likely suit you fine. It's also highly likely that your DSLR body will NOT be your last one. So, with that in mind, consider the system you're buying into and spend on glass..

I have this vision of you currently owning three separate DSLR systems, the Nikon, Canon FD-mount system (A-1 and T70) and the Canon AF system (Rebel). Chances are the weakest glass you own is with the digital rebel and the best glass you own is with the Nikon. (No prejudice here, just going with your observation that your best print work came from the Nikon. All things being equal in film world, the camera is just a box that controls shutter speed, so the difference is in glass and film. If the film's the same and you're getting better pictures with camera "A," over camera "B," it's the lens.).

You're looking at either an older D200 (my current Nikon) or a D300 and up to be able to easily use your legacy Nikon glass. With your budget in mind, that pretty much means you're starting from scratch..

Chances are the 8mp Rebel body with a kit lens would serve you well and leave you plenty of money left over to pick up an additional telephoto..

What I'm getting at, in a long-winded fashion, is the path you're down now (DSLR/Canon) is a wise one unless you find a spare $10k or so, then go with a D3 and a couple of the pro zooms).

'Nice pen, bet you write good stories with it.'..

Comment #15

Excellent question.I changed from a Nikon Coolpix 5200 a very small 5 MP camera,Point and Shoot Sony DSC-H5, a super zoom prosumer, anda Sony ultra slim T200 (?8MP card like camera).

To a semi professional DSLR Nikon D300+ Nikon 18-200/3.5-5.6 + Nikon 35/2+ Nikon flash SB 800 April 2008.

For your heart:definitely a DSLR.You are Dark-Room Rank person, i.e., much higher than I.And you want low light performance..

To do it sensibly,I think the Sony DSC-H5 has wonderful range: 12X,and I do think that it has TTL flash. The flash is much betterthan the very harsh flash of Nikon Coolpix 5200.If money is a concern, the advantage is that you cannotbuy much accessories (lens, etc...).

I just got the D300 and friends, and I also want to covetthe D700, and more lens lust.....

Unless you are going to be paid handsomely foryour work OR you are photographing things that moves,then, I recommend DSLR.My Nikon D300 has won a lot of praises, and I like it a lot.I think you said you like Nikon..

ConclusionI think a prosumer would suffice. And you cannot buymore lens for it, although prosumer costs similar to aDSLR nowadays...

Comment #16

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