Nowadays, everyone can be a photographer regardless of what camera they use. While different cameras offer the same function, buying a new digital camera can still be a problem since there are a lot of different choices available to choose from. But to narrow down the selection, there are only two kinds of cameras that an average camera user uses: digital compact point and shoot cameras, and digital SLRs. While the two kinds of cameras both offer the main function of taking pictures, they still have each unique characteristics and differences.
A significant difference between compact point and shoot cameras and digital SLRs would be their price. Digital SLRs are usually a lot more expensive than compact point and shoots. For example, the least expensive digital SLR camera without a lens may cost twice that of an average point and shoot, but a DSLR requires the use of a lens which cost around a few hundred dollars.
If you are wondering about the difference between the prices of the two cameras, one reason would be speed. An average compact digital camera usually takes more time to autofocus and save images that you take which may cause delays or worse, missing to capture perfect moments in photographs. Digital SLRs are better since they can usually take 3 or more frames per second while a point and shoot camera usually captures only 1 frame per second.
Size and Weight
An obviously significant difference between DSLRs and point and shoots are their size and weight since DSLRs are a lot bigger and heavier than compact point and shoots. If you are someone who wants to carry a camera in their pocket instead of lugging around a huge and heavy camera around their neck or shoulder, then you might as well go with a compact digital point and shoot camera.
When checking out a camera, you will find that cameras have different megapixel counts. Since compact point and shoots are smaller in size and use smaller imaging devices, they stuff all those megapixels in a smaller chip which produces digital noise and reduces picture quality. The opposite is true with digital SLRs: since they are larger, they use larger imaging devices which mean less digital noise and better overall picture quality.
This is one other significant difference between the two cameras. Most point and shoot cameras work best when used in an automatic shooting mode and offers limited manual options for changing aperture, shutter speeds, ISO, etc. You just simple point and compose your picture then take the shot, hence the name, point and shoot. While digital SLRs can also be used in Auto mode, they allow to freely control a lot more aspects of your shot aside from aperture and shutter speed, like depth of field, focus, exposure, etc.
Overall, the choice of deciding whether to get a compact digital point and shoot camera or a digital SLR still depends on a combination of factors such as your budget, personal preferences, and your photographic needs.