Digital Camera Types

SLR-like digital cameras

Written by Rick Ellinger

SLR-like digital cameras can be a good alternative to a digital single lens reflex camera, giving you many of the benefits of DSLRs without the additional complexity and expense.

DSLR like camerasA fine article at this site lists some pros and cons of digital single lens reflex cameras. It inspired me to make a comparison to my Panasonic FZ50.

The FZ50 is one of several SLR-like digital cameras on the market that should be considered by those who do not want a DSLR. SLR-like digital cameras have many of the same features, but cost a lot less.

I’ll quote the article and then add some comments about the FZ50. The comments may apply as well to other digital cameras in its class.

“DSLRs have very fast shot-to-shot time…”

The FZ50 matches that benefit with a very fast shot-to-shot time and a burst mode for taking shots in rapid succession.

“If you photograph wildlife that is far away from the camera and need super telephoto capability….”

The FZ50 has a terrific built-in 420mm zoom lens. The camera accepts telephoto and other lenses as well (see below).

“If you like to photograph tiny things that you want to look large and have stunning detail,….”

The FZ50 has 10.1 megapixel detail and great macro capabilities. It also has the ability to add macro lenses to it’s threaded lens.

“subjects in good focus, but beautifully blur the background”

The FZ50 excels in this department – especially with its manual focus ring and manual aperture setting to adjust depth of field.

“a camera with which I could use different lenses to capture a wide range of subjects”

The FZ50 accepts a wide range of telephoto, macro and wide-angle lenses; filters, etc. with its threaded lens. And it accepts other brand ad-ons, not just Panasonic!

“some of my compact digital cameras do not have hot shoes for external flashes …”

Hot shoe present and accounted for on the FZ50.

“DSLR cameras are larger and bulkier…and more expensive…than compacts.”

The price of the FZ50 is way less than most DSLRs and somewhat less bulky – although it is more “bulky” than most compact digital cameras.

“If you think you’ll find one with the perfect lens to take all the pictures you want to take, forget it! …”

The FZ50 has one super-dooper lens which accomplishes quite a lot, from 32mm all the way to 420mm (35mm equiv.).

“All but a few DSLRs lack a “live” LCD, so you can’t use the LCD for composing a picture….”

The FZ50, like most compacts, has a “live” LCD, which rotates 180 degrees so you can shoot from above, below, to the side, and even photograph yourself and see the shot as you take it!

“Today’s DSLRs are also audibly NOISY. The combination of the mirror slap* and shutter sound are enough to send a cat flying.”

The FZ50 is very quiet (unless you choose to turn the sounds “on”) – very good for nature photography.

“DSLRs have much better image quality at higher ISO.”

True. The FZ50 puts quite a bit of noise in photos at high ISO numbers.  Panasonic includes on-camera noise reduction, which helps some. When shooting in low light, I use the lowest ISO possilbe. But if low-light photography is a primary consideration for the camera buyer, then they should consider a DSLR.

The FZ50 is an awesome camera. Yes, the best photos are going to be with a DSLR, probably. But the FZ50 offers near DSLR features and benefits, and high quality photos … all for much less money.

So if you’re in the market for a new camera, but don’t want to buy a DSLR, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 is a great alternative.

Note: there are other cameras with advanced features like the FZ50 that are suitable as a DSLR alternative. Many are featured in our Amazon Store.

About the author

Rick Ellinger

Rick Ellinger was never interested in photography until he experienced the digital realm in 2002, when bought his first digital camera, the 3.2 megapixel Olympus C3020-Z, with some of the money his grandfather had left to him. Rick says, “It was a great little camera and served me well.”

In the fall of 2006, Rick purchased a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50, and the world of digital photography opened up for him. With the FZ50's 10.1 megapixel resolution, and 35-420mm zoom range (35mm equiv.), he was then able to get shots he had been longing to capture.

In 2008, Rick's dad gave him a Nikon D40, which introduced him to the world of digital single lens reflex cameras. He was quickly hooked so in September 2009, he upgraded the D40 by purchasing the Nikon D5000 and a Tamron 70-300mm macro lens.

Rick enjoys taking photos of God's creation - especially critters. By zooming in closely on his subjects, he is able to see fine details that are often missed by the eye.

Through the wonders of digital photography, Rick shares the marvels and beauties of God's wonderful creation with people around the globe via the Internet. He hopes others will enjoy his photos as much as he enjoys shooting them. Rick includes a free eCards feature on his photo website for visitors. They include some of his photos along with encouraging, inspirational greetings.

Rick says, “I pray that my photos of God's creation will bring glory and honor to the God who created it all.”

Rick's wife, Ruby, says that his grandfather would be pleased with the purchase of that first digital camera.


  • I think you mean the FZ50. Take a look at the Canon SX1 IS or the SX10MP. Both are 20X wide angle zooms and larger and heavier than the Panasonic FZ series ultra zooms. They have hot shoes, like the FZ50. The Nikon P90 has a 24X wide angle zoom and a 3″ tilt LCD. There is a listing of current DSLR-like cameras in the Digicamhelp camera shop if you care to take a look:

    As an aside, there is also a new hybrid by Panasonic, called the G1. It takes interchangeable lenses, though none have the reach of the FZ50. Click the link to go to a write-up about it in my blog.

  • Any ideas on a current non-DSLR camera the size of the Fz250? All the ones I see these days are very small and I have very large hands.