SLR vs Prosumer P&S;

This is a question debated by many who are thinking of taking up photography as a hobby, or are getting more serious about photo taking.  Digital SLR’s obviously provide more flexibility, more control, and more options, while the new generation of Prosumer Super Zoom Point and shoot cameras offer lenses with exotic names such as Carl Zeiss, 10x optical zooms, and compact size.  So which camera is actually right for you?

Well, there is no one answer.  Ask yourself this.  Is photography something you really want to pursue as a hobby? If you answer yes, I would lean towards the Digital SLR.  If you just want to take “snapshots” and think an extra zoom might be helpful than the Super zoom point and shoot camera is probably right for you.

There are tons of websites that compare images between various prosumer and entry level digital SLR’s.  I’m going to instead focus on some things that might not be apparent to the new photographer.

Fact: Most Digital SLR’s have image sensors much larger than a Point and shoot camera. The reason this is important is probably not apparent to most consumers. The reason this is so important, and especially to me is that a larger sensor gives you more range of Depth of Field (DOF) control.  DOF controls what is in focus in your photo.  In portraits for example it is often desirable to have the person you are shooting in complete focus, while the background is Out of Focus (OOF).  DOF is mainly controlled by the aperture of your lens, but with a tiny sensor such as those on P&S cameras, it is near impossible to throw the background out of focus.

The image on the right was taken with a fast lens with my SLR. The background is nice and soft. The image on the right however you can clearly see the background and it distracts from the photo. In fact it’s just a couch cushion.