Compact Cameras VS DSLR Cameras (Main Differences for Layman)

The beginning of photography will bring you to a verge of several decisions. Deciding your needs is the first step of your career and the second phase will be to select your photography tool.

Check out Best Compact Cameras

compact cameras vs dslr cameras

The most significant decision point arises when you have to choose between a DSLR and compact camera. This decision only matters during the starting phase of your career or the learning phase. DSLR is the ultimate choice for professionals, but you can practice the opening stage on a high-tech compact camera.

Before going further on the topic Compact Cameras VS DSLR Cameras, one fact must be cleared that a camera is just a tool of photography. It will never assure the quality of your images or your fame as a successful photographer.

The biggest myth about photography is that new technology has restricted photographers to just point and then shoot their subjects to create masterpieces. Your own talent, hard work, and understanding of photography is the only thing which can make you one of the top notch photographers.

Purchasing a camera is a big decision not only in financial terms but it also determines your shooting capability. Every camera model has its own advantages as well as disadvantages. Same is the case with DSLRs and compact cameras, therefore, the purchase decision is a bit difficult here. We have made a little effort in order to decrease your efforts while choosing between DSLR’s and compact cameras.

Before going further, you must analyze your own needs and then evaluate each camera on the basis of those needs in order to make the right decision.

Best Compact Cameras

NameTop Compact CamerasNameRatingPrice
Nikon COOLPIX P300
Nikon COOLPIX P300
4.2$$
Fujifilm Fine PIX S1Fujifilm Fine PIX S14.6$
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX300/BCSony Cyber-shot DSC-HX300/BC4.6$$$
Canon PowerShot ELPH 310 HSCanon PowerShot ELPH 310 HS4.3$$
Nikon COOLPIX B500Nikon COOLPIX B5004.6$

Compact Camera’s Strengths

Some people consider compact cameras to be inferior to DSLRs but it is unfair. Your budget and type of photography should decide the best camera for you. Here are some specifications which make compact cameras win over DSLRs.

Quiet operation

The biggest advantage, which you will notice right after purchasing a point and shoot camera, is its quietness. These cameras are so quite that your subjects will never notice that he was getting captured. Sometimes even photographers fail to notice that the image has been taken. This quality makes them perfect for pet and street photography.

Size and weight

Compact cameras often come in very small size and very less weight. Their size is the only thing to make then slip in your pocket easily. They have proven to be a great choice for parties, hangouts and even trips to faraway places. Photographers do not have to carry them around their neck. Like DSLRs.

Low price

A simple compact camera can come at a price of less than $100. This is a considerably low price as compared to DSLR so they are good for beginners and people with low budget.

Auto mode

Auto mode is perfect assistance for people who do not understand photography perfectly and cannot join any class due to financial reasons. Compact cameras have more well-defined auto modes as compared to DSLRs. These modes also take the guess work out of beginner’s photography so that they can have a perfect start.

Compact Cameras Weaknesses

Weaknesses of compact cameras over DSLRs are:

  • Low image quality due to the small image sensor as compared to DSLRs.
  • Shutter lag is higher.
  • Smaller ISO which limits them to certain shooting conditions.
  • Most compact cameras only offer LCD framing of images.
  • Less manual controls and less adaptability.

Best DSLR Cameras

Action CamerasNameRatingPrice
Sigma SD13$$$$$
Pentax K304.2$$
Nikon DF-$$$$
Nikon D6104.3$$$$
Sony Alpha SLT-A37M-$$$
Nikon D80-$$$$
Canon EOS 5DS R4.1$$$$$
Nikon 8104.2$$$$
Canon EOS 6D4.8$$$$
Nikon D72004.3$$$

DSLR’s Strengths

Unluckily there are some camera manufacturers who brought out their products with the label of DSLR but they are not actually DSLRs in technical terms. For this purpose, it is important to define a DSLR first. A simple definition of DSLR is that it is a camera with the following features

  • Removable lens.
  • Reflex mirror for live optical viewing.

The reflex mirror makes you able to view the subject from viewfinder the mirror will flip up when you capture a specific image and allow the image sensor to capture the scene. Some new products are labeled as DSLR only due to this mirror viewing but they are not. However, this does not mean that they are bad products but a distinction must be known and understood.

Strengths of DSLR over compact cameras are given below:

Image quality

DSLRs have a large size of image sensors which result in large pixel size in combination with faster ISO, less grain and high shutter speed. All these features churn out the best image quality that can ever be attained by any camera right now.

Speed

DSLRs are comparatively faster when we talk about shutter lag, focusing and start-up.

ISO range

ISO range decides the flexibility of shooting in different conditions. DSLRs have a different range of ISO in different models but most of them are higher as compared to compact cameras which assure more flexibility.

Optical viewfinder

Reflex mirror option in DSLRs makes sure that you get what you see during the composition of any image.

Manual control

Compact cameras also offer manual control over some settings but DSLRs are specially designed for photographers who want to have a full grip of their image composition. DSLRs also have some good auto modes for beginners but manual mode is designed for people who have each control on their fingertips. These manual controls assure flexibility of camera to adjust in different shooting situations.

Quality optics

Despite the availability of large quantity of DSLR lenses, it is not wrong to say that every DSLR lens is somehow better than a compact camera. DSLR lenses are larger in size and took hours in their production just to assure precision.

Depth of field

The biggest advantage of DSLRs is their flexibility in offering field depth. This arises as an extension of manual controls offered by DSLR as you can focus on anything in the background by blurring the foreground or image.

DSLR Weaknesses

Weaknesses of DSLR are also important to mention here because they will give you a chance to analyze them properly. A few weaknesses of DSLR are:

  • High price.
  • Big size and heavy weight as compared to compact cameras.
  • A problem of continuous cleaning and maintenance.
  • They are generally noisier as compared to compact cameras.
  • They do not have live LCD for image composition.
  • They are highly complex as compared to compact cameras.
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