Compact Digital Camera Vs Digital Single-lens Reflex (DSLR) Camera

In this day and age, It is not easy for a new photographer to decide what type of camera to buy. There are quite a lot of differences between a compact camera and a digital SLR camera so everything boils down to what your requirements are. To make the right decision you have to understand what these cameras are and how different they are.

What is a Compact Digital Camera?

Have you ever wondered why a compact camera is called a ‘point and shoot' camera? Well, it’s because of how simple it is to use it. You just have to point at the subject you want to capture and click the shutter button. The main feature of this type of camera is that it is significantly smaller than a DSLR and so it is more convenient to carry around with. Furthermore, the price of a budget compact digital camera can be astonishingly cheaper than any budget DSLR but everything comes at a price. You have to be happy with lower image quality when you buy a cheaper compact, but when you move to the premium segment, compact cameras do have the capability of being a substitution of a DSLR in some instances. The camera comes with a flash of its own which is usually of low power and thus usable only in close quarters. The camera has only one fixed lens so you don’t have to worry about buying and changing lenses.

What is a Digital Single-lens Reflex Camera (DSLR)?

Although this is a good option for a new photographer as well, using this is a bit more complicated and requires more knowledge. The sensors provided in the camera will certainly give you better images and you can even change the lens of the camera at your convenience. The weight and size of this camera are quite a lot more than your regular compact digital camera. Apart from it being a costly investment, you have to keep in mind the extra costs you have to bear in buying peripherals like lenses and lights. It might seem that a compact camera is the better option but before making a judgment you have to think about the type of control you’ll get in a DSLR which offers a manual mode and settings which can give you better results.

Difference between Compact Digital Camera and Digital Single-lens Reflex Camera

Viewfinder Mechanism - DSLRs have a reflex mirror and pentaprism which is not present in a compact digital camera.  When a photographer looks through the viewfinder of the camera, the reflex mirror and pentaprism show how much light will enter the sensor of the camera. As this feature is not present in a compact camera the viewfinder of the same shows an inaccurate representation of what the photograph will be.

Lenses - The compact digital camera limits you from using different types of lenses as it has one fixed lens. So, the DSLR will be a better option for you if you want to experiment with a fish-eye lens, ultra-wide lens, or telephoto lens and if you want to take different types of photographs. The ability to change lenses will also help you take better photographs in low-light and get a shallower depth of field. You have to be careful about changing lenses because dust could accumulate in the camera sensor and can deteriorate the image quality. Furthermore, lenses can be bulky and an inconvenience to carry around. So, to take simple photographs and for convenience, a compact camera remains the better choice.

Sensor Size - The image quality of a camera heavily depends upon the sensor size and type. A DSLR is more costly than a compact camera because it has a larger sensor than the latter. The size of the sensor is also why a compact camera is small and light-weight while the DSLR is more heavy and large. In low-light situations, the DSLR will produce better photographs because the larger sensor allows the camera to be more sensitive to light. A larger sensor will have larger pixels and thus it can capture more details than a compact camera.

Camera Focus - Traditionally compact cameras did not have a manual focus although some brands have introduced it in recent models on the other side a DSLR has a fully functioning manual focus. If we look at the camera autofocus of a DSLR we’d see that it is better than the compact camera as well.

Settings - The main concept of the compact camera is to let the technology do the job of creating the perfect image, so the compact digital camera comes with several pre-programmed creative modes. Although in a DSLR, you can control what you want to do or you can also let the technology do its part. Furthermore, you’ll get more ISO speed settings in a DSLR than in a compact camera.

Now that you have an idea of what both these cameras offer and how different they are from each other, you can make a decision on which camera to choose. Most professionals keep both types of cameras and use them in different situations. The compact camera can be a good option if you are starting to learn photography and if you’re looking for good image quality you have to choose a DSLR. Here are a few options for you to choose the best Compact Digital Camera and the best Digital Single-lens Reflex camera.


Written By: Sauvik Chatterjee

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