Expert Eye

Digital Cameras Compact Vs. DSLRs

Which is right for you?

Which is right for you?

Small digital cameras? Large digital cameras? HUGE digital cameras…?

Lets face it, there’s a lot to choose from out there. So many cameras are made and sold every year, it’s an absolute minefield of choice. But why, oh why, should you buy a giant Digital Single-Lens Reflex camera (or DSLR) instead of a compact digital camera? I’ll tell you why… Quality!

Now, the first thing to keep in mind, is that each type of camera out there is designed to suit a particular purpose. Compact cameras are designed to be cheap and cheerful ‘point and shoot’ devices. The kind you take out to a club and take photo after photo of you and your friends dancing the night away. It’s small, it’s compact, it’s simple…but it’s also inferior. DSLR’s are, on the other hand, designed to be something altogether different.

Much like their film based ancestors; DSLR’s are the Da Vinci’s of the camera world – compacts are more like his best mate Fred who was okay at painting but never really got famous for it.

Lets look at why DSLR’s have the edge:

Mega Pixels aren’t everything.

This is a common mistake to make. You look at two cameras. One is a compact, the other a DSLR. The compact has 12.1 mega-pixels (MP), the DSLR has 10MP… so the compact takes better quality photos right? Well, actually no. Although the MP ratings are there to give you an idea of how much better a camera is compared to another, they only really apply to the class of device they belong too. Comparing a compact to a DSLR would be like comparing a Lamborghini to a John Deer tractor… They both have wheels and move people around places, but they both have different jobs. Therefore, you need to compare compacts to compacts and DSLR’s to DSLR’s. Simple.

Quality of the Photograph

Say we had two cameras of each class – they’re both rated at 10MP. We aim them at the same thing, say a gorgeous sunny beach, and have them take a picture. We know now that the images won’t look the same, even though the frame is identical. If we look at the compacts shot then we see a lovely beach. Then we see something interesting in the photo and we want to zoom in to look – perhaps we set the photo to display at full size. Clicky clicky and…what the?! The clarity of the photo has just dived! Pixels seem to have been shaken around and oh no – you’ll never get the 150cm x 150cm canvas print you wanted out of this! Such a shame… So then, we look at what the DSLR took. Yes it took longer to set up – we had to make sure the exposure was perfect and play with all the other bits (that you want to play with) to make sure that picture is worth a thousand words! Clicky Clicky… And what you get is stunning – clarity, bolder colours, a wider shot… basically this IS worth a canvas print.

The compact did a good enough job – you can take your photos to Tesco and print out a nice set of 5×7’s or stick them on FaceBook perhaps. But you didn’t want that – you wanted to really capture the beauty of it all – so that’s where the DSLR comes in. You see, the technology that is crammed into one of these goliaths is designed, specifically to produce images, which could be printed in a magazine – even the most basic of models. The poor old compact just potters behind in this field.


There is a good reason why you see photographers on television using these cameras while taking photos of celebrities or supermodels. It’s not just because the final images are sharper and have bolder colours – it’s also because they want to shoot something with a unique DOF (depth of field) or they want to position their flash gun in such a way as to light the subject in an interesting manor. Maybe they wanted to fit a 10-18mm wide angle lens to capture everything around them or a 75-400mm zoom lens to get a real close-up. The DSLR has so many practical features for the photographer to use the compact couldn’t hope to keep up. This isn’t to say that the DSLR should be solely used by the professional photographer – it is designed to be used by those who want to take pictures that make people go ‘wow – that’s a great photo!’ If you see a famous photo or a picture in a magazine, think DSLR. If you see holiday snap or blurry photo of a celeb, think compact camera.

So…which one do I buy??

Like anything you buy in life, you should have a clear idea about what you’re going to do with it – BEFORE you buy it! Let’s look at

Do you want to go on holiday and take lots of quick snaps of you and your mates at the beach? Buy a compact. It’ll do the job and it won’t set you back much money either. Here is a selection of compact cameras that we stock at Ebuyer.

Do you want, however, to take photos that will have peoples jaws hit the floor? Maybe have them as huge wood mounted canvasses in your home – or better yet, in other peoples homes!? Buy a DSLR. Here is a selection of DSLR cameras that we stock at Ebuyer.

Or… If you can afford it – buy both!! I have one compact for taking out and about with me (you never know when it’s going to come in handy) and a DSLR for when I’m taking photos for my online gallery and/or freelance work.

If you already own a compact or DSLR camera – let us know what you have or what you would recommend by leaving a comment below.


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