Digital Camera Types

Compact digital camera or digital SLR?

Written by Digicamhelp Editor

Both digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras and compact digital cameras have their place in the world of digital photography. Learn the benefits of each and which type may be right for you.

DSLR vs Point and Shoot

While compact and digital single lens reflex cameras have a number of features in common, they can be quite different in size, cost and feature. Here’s information to help you decide which type may be better suited for your photographic needs.

Compact digital cameras

Compact digital cameras are less expensive and more convenient to use than digital single lens reflex cameras (DSLRs). The lenses on advanced compact cameras can sometimes outperform the standard lens kit that comes on entry level DSLRs.

Benefits of compact digital cameras

  • Easier to use and, for the most part, easier to learn.
  • Comes in a variety of sizes but most are lightweight.
  • Improved shutter lag in many newer models.
  • Fully automatic shooting modes and pre-programmed scene modes for point-and-shoot simplicity.
  • LCD provides live view.  (Note:  Some compacts do not have a viewfinder.)
  • Some have semi-automatic and full manual controls.
  • Variety of zoom lengths from wide to super zoom.
  • High ISO performance is the weak spot for most compact cameras, which otherwise do fine in good light.
  • Some compact digital cameras accept converter lenses and filters.
  • No sensors to regularly clean.
  • Similarly equipped DSLR may cost hundreds of dollars more.
  • Similarly equipped DSLR may weigh several pounds.

Digital single lens reflex cameras

Despite their size, weight, price and difficult learning curve, digital single lens reflex cameras have a lot to offer.

Benefits of DSLR

  • High degree of manual control.
  • Accept a wide range of interchangeable lenses, though some are very expensive and heavy.
  • Accept a wide variety of sophisticated accessories.
  • Lenses are often high quality and produce images that are sharp and have a wide dynamic range.
  • Minimal amount of purple fringing and other lens distortions.
  • Excellent low light/high ISO performance due to larger sensors.
  • Through-the-lens (TTL) optical viewfinder.
  • Precise focus.
  • No shutter lag.
  • High performance, high frame rate.
  • More control over depth of field.