SLR or Point & Shoot?

One of the issues with buying a decent digital camera is what type to buy. Now as a Photo enthusiast and Professional Imageer I tend to lean more towards the Digital SLR than to the many variations of Point & Shoot (P&S) that are available on the market today.

Why Buy a P&S?
The most obvious reason for getting a P&S is convenience, they tend to be quite small, easy to use, feature rich and the latest models have plenty of resolution (Not true really because resolution has nothing to do with megapixels and more to do with the density of pixels or dots to a given area). The newest models from Canon, Sony and Nikon boast 7 megapixel plus sensors and support decent storage capacities and transfer features. The beauty of many of these new models is their compactness; some of them are even thinner than a pack of cigarettes.

Many of the newer models are also being boosted by the manufacturers focus on improving the optics and connectivity. Ok, 7 megapixels may be overkill for most peoples' use at the moment, but believe me when I say future users of Digital Photography will need more. Think of what kind of files Ultra High Resolution Displays will require.

Why buy a Digital SLR
Ok, the Digital SLR may seem bulky and a bit of overkill when it comes to the consumers requirements even some of the prosumer models which have fixed lenses can seem that way too. and that is as it should be, the SLR is not the domain of the casual photographer, it is where the Professional and the enthusiast can really explore the world of "writing with light." The SLR which features interchangeable lenses is a boon to the Photographer because it offers the photographer the chance to play with how the world around them is captured.

The SLR also offers the photographer the chance to see just what is being captured. Now notice that I didn't say exactly, and there is a reason for that ... many viewfinders only show a portion of what is actually being captured and many of them require some trickery to force the viewfinder to show the exposure levels and focus with any degree of accuracy (think Depth of Field). Having said, their viewfinder is vastly superior to the ones on P&S cameras because of something called “parallax error” (which occurs because you are not viewing your capture field through the same lens that you are capturing it through). With an SLR you're actually looking at what you are going to capture and therefore are more able to frame and compose rather than snap your image and hope it comes out for the best. SLR cameras quite simply allow you more control over the medium and with the range of accessories available for your SLR you'll be a happy snapper.

Which SLR?
If you already have an SLR film camera like a Canon or Nikon then buy the best equivalent you can afford at the time ... I use a Canon based SLR and that made my choice appear to be fairly straight forward. However when it came to buying my Digital SLR, I found myself deeply frustrated by something called a Focal Length Multiplier (FLM). The FLM is a pain in the arse. I have used film SLR's for years and I’m used to my focal lengths on my lenses. With most digital SLR's a 50mm lens is no longer 50mm on the lower level Canon's it is equivalent to 80mm, on most Nikon's it is equivalent to 75mm. The Canon EOS 1Ds is the only 35mm based SLR body in which there is no FLM, but at just over US$ 8,000, it is a little on the pricey side. Grumble Grumble ... Confused? Don't worry it's quite understandable ...

So, why buy an SLR? It's the choice really, with an SLR you can play a lot more with the medium because you have more control.

Quite Simply ... P&S = convenience - SLR = Control.

Footnote – Confused over which P&S to buy, wait a little and you’ll then have to juggle between camera and camera/mobile phone. Samsung will be releasing the V770 which is a 7 megapixel Cameraphone …