The world of the camera is advancing at breakneck speeds. The distinction between a point and shoot camera and DSLR is fast disappearing.

DSLR vs Point and Shoot Camera

But we still think in terms of duality where one has to be better than the other. Let us explore the intriguing world of photography to get a solid understanding

The myth of megapixel

Before we get into the fight between the P&S and DSLR lets dispell a few myths before. The most enduring myth in the world of photography is the Megapixel supremacy. Which states that the Megapixel is the single most important attribute to consider while making a buying decision.

Contrary to all that you may have heard Megapixel is not the elixir. There is P&S sporting 20 Megapixel that can’t match up with an 8 megapixel DSLR camera.

This is due to the fact that the sensor in a P&S camera tends to be smaller when compared to the sensor in a DSLR. The difference is size is not negligible and at times can be of the order of magnitude of 25.

The small size of sensors in P&S means that manufacturers have to cram more pixels in small spaces, the small size of each individual pixel means that it can capture less light i.e. less data which translate in less detail. The lack of detail introduces the noise or grains that you see in a picture.

The world of image sensors is very complex but it can be said with some authority that smaller sensors generally mean less quality and vice versa.

Since we have dealt with the elephant in the room let us now get back to our topic. We would dissect DSLRs and Point and Shoot separately first.

You can call your camera DSLR if it has detachable lenses, and comes armed with a reflex mirror which is used to view the surroundings through the viewfinder.

This mirror obstructs light coming to the image sensor. When you want to capture an image the mirror is flipped so that the image sensor is exposed to light.

So, a mirrorless camera though equivalent in quality may not be referred to as a DSLR

DSLR Camera

There is a lot of hype surrounding DSLR’s let us examine why is this a case

Image Quality

As I have already discussed, DSLR has larger sensors which mean larger pixel size that can capture more light and hence more data points. Not only does this reduce noise in the image but also allow us to tinker with shutter speeds and ISO settings.

The thing that stands out for a DSLR is its ability to support multiple lenses. You may own a great Point and shoot camera with a high-quality lens that can take great photos but it will always lack diversity, it will constrain you with only one lens.

A DSLR, on the other hand, allows you the flexibility to manoeuvre lenses so that you can take micro shots of a bee one day and capture grand canyon on another using the very same camera just by replacing lenses.

Generally speaking, DSLRs are faster to boot and autofocus, the shutter lag is also less compared to other cameras

The reflex mirror in a DSLR allows the optical viewfinder to accurately show what you will capture when you click.

DSLR cameras also sport great ISO ranges so that you can get greater control of the photo you take.

Many point and shoot cameras these days allow you to manual modes but DSLRs are designed to give the photographer the control of his frame. They allow an array of manual settings that can be cobbled together for precise control.

DSLR cameras can stand the test of time. Your point and shoot camera will get outdated very soon, many models getting two or three updates per year.

DSLRs are updated less often and the lenses you buy for one DSLR can be used in other compatible models, so even if you need to upgrade the camera body the lenses can be used nevertheless. This ensures that your investment in lenses over the years does not go down the drain

A DSLR can give you control over the depth of field. In simple words, you can control the focus the subject and background are going to receive. You may blur the background to prominently showcase the subject. Or keep the background in focus too, so that you don’t miss out on something fun in the corner nook.

DSLR lenses are generally better because of their size and greater quality, a function of more glass being used to produce them. Also, these lenses receive a lot of attention from the manufacturers. Point and shoot camera lenses are improving too, But they still have quite a distance to cover.

Now, this is not to say that DSLRs have no chick in its armour. There are drawbacks to owning a DSLR, here are a few

DSLR Camera – Cons

Hole in the Pocket. A DSLR camera is generally dearer than a P&S camera. There is the additional cost involved if you want to buy new lenses. On the other hand, the P&S camera involves only a one-time investment.

A DSLR camera is bulkier than a P&S camera. DSLR along with all the lenses takes a lot of space and can weigh heavily on your shoulder, while the P&S camera will easily slide into your pocket.

Another factor to weigh in on is the issue of maintenance. Because you will keep on changing lenses of a DSLR, your camera is always susceptible to dust getting in. This dust can then make its way to the image sensor. Dust on the image sensor is always bad, as it leaves blots on all the images that you take.

]It is not easy to clean the sensor and is best left to the professionals(read additional costs). Manufacturers are trying to solve this problem by introducing sensors that can clean themselves. But they too add to your cost.

DSLRs make a lot of sounds while taking pictures, the mirror prism mechanism in the DSLR is mechanical and the moving of various components make a lot of noise. A P&S camera devoid of all these elements is pretty silent and hardly ever make a sound.

If you are a beginner DSLRs will intimidate you. DSLRs are designed to give you more control, this means there are a lot of controls and settings to deal with which takes time to get used to. This can scare off someone who is not savvy and want lives without complications. That being said DSLRs also have great auto modes, so if you can go beyond the look the fear will gradually wither away.

Another thing that bugs a lot of people is that in a DSLR you can only shoot through the viewfinder, it is not very comfortable for amateurs to always use the viewfinder. They often find the camera LCD more convenient. Newer versions of DSLRs are coming with Live view modes, so this does not seem like an insurmountable problem anymore.

Point and Shoot Camera

Now let us shift our attention to the other contender in the ring the Humble point and shoot camera.

Most people consider P&s as inferior to the mighty DSLR. But they have a lot to offer, it all depends on the kind of photography you would like to do, your level of expertise, and the moolah you want to spend.

The point and shoot market is very dynamic and these cameras are improving by the day. The producers are trying to do away with the drawbacks that are typically associated with a P&S camera. Here is our take on the Point and shoot camera

Point and Shoot Camera – Pros

P&s cameras tend to be small can be carried inside your jeans pocket. Because they are so easy to carry around. You can have them on you all the time. This will ensure you never miss a worthy opportunity.

These cameras also do not make any noise. This allows you to capture images without disturbing the subject.

The one area where P&S cameras have an edge is the Automatic mode, as most users of these cameras are amateurs, manufacturers make an effort to improve the auto modes so that anyone can take great pictures without having to make a lot of fuzz.

They also are considerably cheaper than DSLRs. So if you don’t want to invest a lot of money and still click decent photos. P&S is your go to.

These cameras come with LCD screens to view the shots you are about to take. It is very convenient for a beginner to just flip the screen and capture the shot at different angles, just by a twist in the wrist, which is not possible using the optical viewfinder.

Now that we have looked at the pros, let us shed some light on the cons

Point and Shoot Camera – Cons

Because the P&S have smaller sensors they tend to produce images that are lower in quality, this as explained earlier is due to the small pixel size on the sensor. Technological advancement is made at this front but they still lag behind the DSLRs on this front.

But, if you are someone who does not want to hang large wall-sized prints in the gallery, a P&S camera can take care of most of your photographic needs. The quality of images taken from a P&S has dramatically improved over the last couple of years and is good enough for most leisurely purposes.

Another drawback with P&S cameras is the small range it offers on the ISO front. This is a major constraint while shooting in different conditions, like low lighting to name one.

Point and Shoot cameras are generally very slow compared to their DSLR counterparts. The shutter lag is very annoying and can spoil many photos where you move prematurely thinking that the photo is taken. The speed is improving day by day, but you always miss the reliability of a DSLR camera.

Any DSLR enthusiast will miss the viewfinder in Point and shoot cameras, most P&S cameras these days come only with LCD screens for preview and do not have any viewfinder. Other have viewfinders but they are so small that they are practically useless.

P&S cameras also lack on manual settings front as they do not offer the flexibility of a DSLR. Newer models allow you to tinker with Aperture and shutter speeds but these settings are hidden in the menu making them very hard to access.

P&S cameras lack flexibility, you can not change their lenses at will and are stuck with inbuilt functionalities. There are adapters available in the market to improve the zoom on widening the angles but I have not come across anyone who invests in such adapters.


Now, that we have covered both DSLR and P&S cameras in detail let us get down to the million dollar question. Which camera to buy.

The answer to this question lies within you. If you were to ask us we would say, it depends, If you are passionate about photography, desire greater control and care a lot about minute details go for DSLRs.

But on the other hand, if you want a small camera that fits in your pocket, and would let the camera decide what’s best for the photo, go for the point and shoot. You will also save some money in the process

That all for now. Happy clickin’

Source: PhotographyLife, DigitalPhotographySchool

VS Chaithanya Is Vsbytes's Editor-In-Chief. He Is A Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert And Has Been Interested In Computer Hardware, Software, And Gaming Right Since The Time He Was A Child.
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