Point and Shoot
Most people, whether they know it or not, are familiar with point and shoot style cameras. They are exactly what they seem to be. You simply point them at what you want to take a picture of and take a picture. Many people see these cameras with “lots of megapixels” and a small size, and think that they just hit the jackpot.
Point and Shoot’s definitely have their benefits. Most notably is their size and weight. You can fit the vast majority of point and shoots in your pocket and take them anywhere. When you decide to take a picture, just take the camera out and snap your shot and put it back in your pocket. These cameras often mislead consumers by offering high megapixel counts and low costs. Often point and shoot cameras often do not allow for users to manipulate settings, offering either only an AUTO mode, or pre-set configurations. This means that you can use this camera without thinking what you are doing, where you are, or how to take the photo. There is however a penalty to using such cameras.
The weaknesses of the Point and Shoot are many but can generally be placed into two categories. Quality and Control. The small size of the point and shoot severely limits the ability to add features such as large image sensors and high quality optics. As a rule of thumb the larger and better quality the glass (optics) the better the picture. Currently there is no technology that allows the 1/2 to 1 inch sized optics generally found on a point and shoot camera to equal the optics of the 2 inch and often much larger optics found on DSLR cameras. This means that you have a high amount of megapixels shoved into an extremely little sensor and being fed with the light input from very small and often low quality optics. The result can often be a grainy, poor quality photograph. This becomes especially apparent when your image is printed or zoomed in on. As the megapixel rating of these cameras increases this effect becomes more and more apparent.
What’s Best for Me?
That’s the question of the hour, “What is best for YOU?”. Well, unfortunately I can’t tell you that. Each person is different. If you want something that will never let you down and can be expanded on, go ahead and make the plunge for a DSLR. Your possibilities will be endless. You will be able to upgrade to a newer lens at a later time, meaning you can always experience a new shot. If you’re concerned with size and weight and want something you can throw in your pocket, just stick with a Point and Shoot.
Photography is something that will grow on you. Once you get a DSLR, you will want another lens, a flash, and all of the other accessories that you can find. The trick is starting with something cheap. There is no sense in dropping a couple thousand dollars just to take a picture or two, but if it is something that you will do a lot of, it can be well worth the money. DSLR’s retain their value fairly well, and can be used for years. Of you think you want a DSLR, but want to maintain that small size of a DSLR, the closest thing you’re going to find is the prosumer line of digital cameras that offer a combination of image quality, light weight, and some degree of manual control such as the Canon G-series cameras. Many professionals use these as an “Every Day Camera”, and they offer the ability to add a flash, and manipulate the settings that you can usually only find on a DSLR.