DSLRs vs Point and Shoot Cameras – A Comparison

DSLRs vs Point and Shoot Cameras – A Comparison

Having the best Point and Shoot camera in your pocket is like having the world in your hands (to click, that is). The best part about these cameras is their size, rather than their performance. They are easier to carry around unlike DSLR cameras which are bulkier and require more effort when it comes to photography. As the title “DSLR vs Point and Shoot Camera” suggests, in this article we will have a in-depth look at the similarities and differences between DSLRs and Point and Shoot Vlogging Cameras.

What are Point and Shoot Cameras?

Point and shoot or compact cameras are small, pocket-sized digital cameras that combine features of a basic camera with those of a more advanced camera. They can be considered as an alternative to DSLR cameras for casual photography sessions. Since they lack complex features like manual controls, optical viewfinder etc., they can be used by people who need a simple camera to click from point A to point B. They are easy to carry around and have a long list of features which go perfectly with their size.

DSLR Camera with Lens on a Tripod
DSLR Camera with Lens on a Tripod

What are DSLR Cameras?

DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex which means that the camera allows you to see exactly what your lens sees. DSLR cameras are great for professional photographers since they provide hardware and software features which allow users to control almost every setting available in a camera including aperture, shutter speed, ISO sensitivity, white balance and exposure compensation. In addition, these cameras let users install lenses of different focal length and zoom capabilities making them great for taking pictures from far distances.

DSLR cameras come with swappable lenses which mean that you can get different lenses such as a Macro lens, Fisheye lens, Ultra Wide-angle lens and many others depending on the type of photography you want to do.

Point and Shoot Cameras vs DSLR Cameras: Which is better?

If you’re a beginner, then point and shoot camera will be an ideal choice for you as they are easier to operate. On the other hand, if you need professional image quality along with advanced features, DSLR will be better suited for you. Bear in mind that it all depends on needs and requirements. The other main factors which influence the decision are size and cost.

DSLR VS Mirrorless Cameras – Real Differences Explained

Similarities between DSLR Camera and Point and Shoot Cameras:

Similarities image

You might have an experience of using Point and Shoot cameras. You might also be wondering about the similarities between DSLR Cameras and Point and Shoot Cameras? Well, let’s first see some obvious things which are similar in both these cameras:

  1. Both Point and Shoot cameras as well as DSLR cameras do not record sound while recording videos.
  2. Both do not feature optical zoom while recording videos.
  3. Both Point and Shoot cameras as well as DSLR Cameras offer digital zoom.
  4. You can shoot images easily with both without switching to Live View.
  5. Both offer same focus modes such as Single, Continuous, Manual etc.
  6. You can set the aperture priority mode with both Point and Shoot cameras as well as DSLR Cameras to take control of Depth of Field (DoF).
  7. The shutter speed is similar with both Point and Shoot cameras as well as DSLR Cameras.
  8. You can adjust the ISO speed with both Point and Shoot cameras as well as DSLR Cameras to take control of Exposure.
  9. Both types of cameras as well as DSLR Cameras offers white balance mode such as Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten etc.

Now let’s see some less obvious things which are similar in both these cameras:

1. DSLR Cameras and Point and Shoot Cameras both take same amount of time to autofocus when you half-press the shutter button. Although DSLR takes slightly longer than point and shoot in low light conditions.

2. Both cameras give the same ‘Normal’ flash results when you fire flash at Normal mode (Most of the people like it this way). Although DSLR gives better result than point and shoot in low light conditions.

3. Both give a similar experience while stopping down a wide aperture in most of the lenses. Although you will get better DOF control by using DSLR for video recording even at f/4.

Differences Between DSLRs And Point and Shoot Cameras

Image showing Competition between two

Despite all these things, photographers tend to stick with DSLRs for their performance over point-and-shoot cameras. Here’s a comparative analysis of both types by comparing different features based on current market statistics:

1: Lens:

DSLR lenses are typically larger and with better optical properties than point-and-shoot, which means you can get a better image quality in general. However, many advanced point-and-shoot cameras allow you to change its lens/zoom, so the same argument may apply to them too. This is the main reason people always ask me which one they should buy between DSLR and your typical point-and-shoot, because you can not tell how it will end up like by just looking at their body (external appearance).

2: LCD Screen:

POint and shoot cameras focus
POint and shoot cameras focus on LCD screen

Another feature available on many DSLR cameras but not so many point-and-shoot cameras is a swiveling screen. This feature can be useful for taking selfies or hard to reach shots where you need to be in the frame too.

3: Size and Weight:

DSLR cameras are larger and heavier than point-and-shoot cameras because it’s made of good quality material to ensure sturdiness and weatherproofing.

4: Memory Cards:

DSLR cameras use CF cards, while your typical point-and-shoot camera uses SD cards. Some DSLRs are compatible with both types of memory cards, but not the other way around.

5: Optical Viewfinder vs Electronic Viewfinder/LCD Screen

LCD screen is found on many compact digital cameras these days. On the other hand, optical viewfinders are available on most professional/advanced DSLRs only because it doesn’t require an expensive component just to display images unlike rear LCD screens that do. This will give you a slight idea about which one between them has better image quality in general – higher megapixel count means larger screen size is required to show images, and larger screen will definitely affect the price – but is it necessary?

6: Price:

You can buy a DSLR for a much lower cost than a professional one. For example Nikon D3200 costs around $450 while Nikon D4 costs around $8000! This also apply to other brands as well. However, you should remember that it’s not only about the camera but lenses too, which may be an expensive proposition depending on what type of lens you want or need.

On the other hand point-and-shoot cameras are usually small and compact, so they don’t require any mirror mechanism inside them unlike DSLRs which have one. It’s this mirror mechanism makes those lenses inside DSLR costly because the lenses themselves are larger, and there’s a small mirror at the top of the camera to allow you see light from your desired scene via that lens onto the sensor inside. That mirror has to flip out of the way when taking pictures so it can capture images. You can not use a DSLR without its lens, but you can do this with point-and-shoot cameras.

7: Image Quality:

As I mentioned, the larger the image sensor in DSLR, the better it captures light – which means more light information captured by pixels on that sensor allow for a clearer picture or image. However, this does not necessarily mean point-and-shoot cameras will have more noise compared to DSLRs because sensors inside them are also getting larger than ever before.

8: Noise/Noise Reduction:

For point-and-shoot cameras, noise reduction is typically performed both in the camera and the JPEG processing engine. On the other hand, DSLR performs noise reduction only either during RAW data processing or by using a third party software, and it’s up to the photographer which one is better for them.

9: Shutter Lag:

This happens when there’s a delay between pressing shutter button on the camera and the actual time image is captured. DSLR cameras usually have less shutter lag than point-and-shoot because of their size, but as mentioned earlier it’s not only about the camera but lenses too, because larger lenses will need more time to cover its focal length or zoom level.

10: Continuous Shooting/Burst Mode Performance:

DSLR cameras also perform better in burst mode than point-and-shoot ones. But again, it’s not only about the camera but lenses as well.

11: Battery Performance:

DSLR cameras use larger batteries to support for its components, which is what makes it superior in this area. The average point-and-shoot camera uses a Rechargeable Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) battery that starts losing power after you take more pictures compared with DSLRs that uses AA or proprietary batteries, which you can buy anywhere.

12: Lenses Available:

Canon Lens
Canon Lens

Point-and-shoot cameras typically have limited lenses available for them depending on the manufacturer of that camera. On the other hand, DSLRs are compatible with all kinds of lenses out there – meaning you can use just about any lens on it too. There are some limitations of course, but that’s not the case with point-and-shoot cameras.

13: Repairability/Serviceability:

DSLR are easily repairable and serviceable because of its modular design which means you can disassemble it in no time. If somehow it’s defective, you’ll just need to replace any specific broken components without changing its whole system. In point-and-shoot cameras since they’re small and compact, there’s a tendency that it can be hard to open or disassemble them without causing any damage because of the way they’re made.

14: Zooms Range:

DSLRs typically have a better zoom range compared with point-and-shoot cameras because of the larger image sensor inside it.

15: Video Capture Capability:

DSLR cameras can capture videos in full HD quality, with interchangeable lenses and various video recording modes available too depending on the model itself. Point-and-shoot cameras do not have these capabilities – they’re still built for capturing images only – but some point-and-shoot cameras have some video recording capabilities more on that later.

16: Accessories Available:

DSLR is compatible with various types of photography accessories out there, while point-and-shoot cameras are limited to what it can use or support. For example, many lenses available for DSLR are not compatible with point-and-shoot cameras – unless they have the same mount specification which is not likely. DSLR also has more flash options, batteries and flashes accessories, RAW files processing software features available on third party software, etc.

17: Fill Flash Capability:

Point-and-shoot cameras are unable to capture images with correct exposure in low light scenes, but today’s point-and-shoot cameras are getting better in that area with its “fill flash” option.

18: Shooting Modes/Exposure Settings:


DSLR has more shooting modes, exposure settings and unique features for today’s digital SLR camera models depending on the manufacturer itself. Some of this shooting modes are not available on point-and-shoot cameras.

19: Multiple Exposure Capability:

Digital Single Lens Reflex camera models have the ability to capture more than one exposure at a time for making creative images with this photography technique. This is not available on point-and-shoot cameras yet. However, some newer point-and-shot cameras have built in HDR mode which allows you to take 3-5 shots at a time without manually processing it later on your computer. Some also have some kind of microlens sensor inside it that allows the camera to generate an HDR image automatically, where you’ll need some sort of software or external program for this – like Photomatix Pro.

20: Expensive Price Tag:

Point-and-shoot cameras are cheaper compared to DSLR, but they’re not cheap when compared with each other. DSLRs have a higher price tag depending on the manufacturer and model itself. Some point-and-shoot cameras with high end specs can also cost you a lot of money, while some entry level models are surprisingly affordable.

21: Low light Performance:

DSLR in low light
DSLR in low light

DSLR performs better than point-and-shoot cameras in low light conditions because of the high image sensor resolution, larger pixel size and various ISO settings available. Some advanced point-and-shoot models do perform great in low light conditions though, but only if you have a steady hand while shooting handheld images – because of the slower shutter speeds due to high ISO settings.

22: Higher Megapixels:

Newer DSLR camera models come with higher megapixel count which means better image quality, but point-and-shoot cameras are still stuck at 12 or 14 megapixel maximum. Some entry level DSLRs also have lower MP counts now like Nikon D3200 is only at 24MP.

23: Slow Autofocus in Live View Mode:

DSLR cameras are known to be slow when it comes to autofocusing while using the “live view” function, because of the mirror inside that flips up and down depending on your shooting mode. This may cause some delays or problems for extensive focusing in some DSLR models for that matter.

24: Poor Battery Life:

Camera batteries are made with non-removable cells, which means you have to wait longer before they’re fully recharged again, but many of all point-and-shoot camera models have built in or removable rechargeable battery packs so you can always carry spare batteries with you when shooting. DSLR cameras are better in this area, but it still depends on the model itself.

25: Unsuitable for Underwater Photography:

Point-and-shoot cameras are not as good as DSLR when it comes to taking pictures underwater, but there’s a handful of point-and-shoot models that can be submerged to certain depths for capturing images underwater.

26: Bulky and Heavy:

DSLRs cameras are larger and heavier compared to point-and-shoot cameras, but that’s also the reason why DSLR cameras are more durable than them. However, some entry level DSLRs like Sony Alpha A58 is impressively compact and lightweight with dimensions of 4.6 x 2.8 x 1 (WxHxD inches), which is pretty impressive considering it has an all-weather sealed body and a pop-up electronic OLED viewfinder.

27: Slow Shutter Speed:

DSLR cameras can shoot at slower shutter speeds when it’s not needed due to the mirror flipping up and down, which is bad in some situations – like when photographing fast moving objects. This is one of the main reasons why point-and-shoot cameras are better for action photography – because they have faster continuous shutter speeds.

28: No Optical Viewfinder:

DSLRs don’t come with an optical viewfinder, which is why you need to use the rear screen as your main viewfinder as well as using the electronic viewfinder as a secondary one. Point-and-shoot cameras often come with an optical viewfinder, but not all of them.

FAQs about DSLR VS Point and Shoot Camera:

Is DSLR better than point-and-shoot?

Answer: DSLR is much better than Point-and-shoot camera as it offers a number of advantages over point-and-shoot camera. 
More flexibility, more capture modes, custom camera settings, better low light performance/image quality, substantially larger image sensor for taking deep sky and astro shots that require more detail and resolution than most point and shoot cameras can produce and the kit lens has a wider zoom range than many of them considering how much smaller they are – to name just some.

Do professional photographers use point and shoot cameras or DSLRs?

Answer: Professional photographers in the United States usually use DSLR cameras.
The best camera for beginners may not be right for professionals who need to take someone’s photograph in an urgent situation, or to catch something that’s right in front of them at a small size. Point-and-shoot cameras are typically much better for these types of photographs because they can be taken much quicker when you need them to be. However, if you never know what type of photographs you may want to take during your everyday life then it is recommended that you have both a point-and-shooting camera and also a DSLR photographer just in case someone wanted an artistically shot photo at any time during the day. We recommend using mega pixels with respect to


Point and Shoot cameras are perfect for those who want to try photography before investing in a DSLR camera. They also work well for people with less technical expertise or interest, as they lack the ability to change settings like aperture, shutter speed, ISO etc. Point-and-shoot cameras are great for beginners because of their simplicity; but if you’re looking to take your photography game up a notch then it might be time to invest in a DSLR camera!

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Abdul Rehman
By Abdul Rehman

Hi, I'm Abdul Rehman and I'm the Blog Editor of VloggingBlog.com! Owing to my love and passion for tech gadgets, I started this blog to help others by sharing my knowledge on how to start a successful YouTube channel through blogging about techniques, tips, tricks, tutorials and reviews of relevant products that will help you create awesome videos easily!

VloggingBlog – Reviews and Guides for Cameras, Lenses, and Vlogging Gears is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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