Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Should I buy a DSLR? Part 1: the most important question (Basic)

A question that's often asked in photo-related forums is, "What camera should I buy?"  One of the common kneejerk responses is to buy a DSLR.  In my opinion, however, buying a DSLR shouldn't be an automatic decision.

The thing about cameras is that they aren't appliances.  You can turn on your TV or radio or stove and it will perform a good job every time unless it's malfunctioning.  When it comes to appliances like those, the results you get are quite correlated with the quality of the appliance.  Audiophile-quality speakers will definitely make your CD sound better than will $20 computer speakers, every time.

Cameras, however, are more like instruments that are heavily dependent on user skill to produce good results.  Thus, buying a DSLR is not going to guarantee good photos any more than buying a grand piano will let you play like a virtuoso.

I think therefore the most important factor when buying a camera is whether the user intends to spend significant time and effort to learn photography.  If they aren't, then they will get similar results with almost any kind of camera (barring extreme comparisons such as a webcam vs. a DSLR).  Indeed, high-end point-and-shoot cameras such as the Canon S90 are getting quite good at high ISO noise, and I think buyers who can't or won't learn photography are better off with such a camera.  Otherwise, a DSLR would be overkill and would be like an oversized point-and-shoot.

For users who want great image quality and are willing to spend the time and money to get such quality (not just buy the camera), then a DSLR may make sense.  In Part 2 of this post, I will discuss approximately how much time and money are involved, using myself as a case study :)


  1. Mic
    I do agree the DSLR is not necessarily the answer.
    Just imagine me in woods ,hunting
    a DRLR , 3 flashes , one umbrella and 1 soft box wont fit here .
    In this case I take my point and shoot. In fact this is my intention to shoot….
    Also if I want to use a flash during a sunset ..d90 is not so powerful. A point and shoot may have a sync speed = 1/800 or better so I,ll temporally exchange my dslr for a canon g10.

    The big “advantage” with DSLR is credibility, bigger is the camera bigger you credibility …yep size does matters. The eternal question skill versus size.:)

    So sorry to use a nasty work CANON.

  2. Thanks Robert. You're right a point and shoot also has advantages over a DSLR, and I agree a DSLR does give you more credibility. :)

    IMHO Canon still makes the best point and shoot cameras for now. The Nikon P7000 for example doesn't have an articulating screen. Hopefully someday Nikon will make better point-n-shoots.

  3. Wonderful post. Anyway, I think these two cameras should be used according to how the situation calls it. For example, if you don't like carrying around big and bulky DSLR bags, then go for your P&S. I normally use my P&S on simple occasions like small gatherings, etc. Then if you thin you should get your DSLR for a special event or occasion, then go for it. It's just a matter of what the situation calls it. Having both of the P&S and DSLR works great on me!

  4. I think that makes sense, Top Rated. Thanks!

    Best regards,


Thanks for your comment. It will be published as soon as we get a chance to review it, sorry for that, but we get lots of spam with malicious links.