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What Are the Differences Between DSLR Cameras and Point and Shoot Cameras?

Digital Camera FAQ: DSLR Photography Questions

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Q: What are the differences between DSLR cameras and point and shoot cameras?

DSLR cameras offers more power, speed, and features than a point and shoot model. DSLR cameras allow you to manually control certain aspects of a shot, while most point and shoot cameras work best when shooting in fully automatic mode. Digital SLR models cost more and are larger than point and shoot cameras. A point and shoot camera is sometimes called a fixed lens camera, because the point and shoot cannot change lenses.

Not surprisingly, DSLR cameras cost far more than point and shoot cameras. DSLR cameras also have more accessories available than beginner cameras, such as interchangeable lenses and external flash units.

A key difference between the two models involves what the photographer sees as he frames a shot. With a digital SLR, the photographer previews the image directly through the lens, thanks to a series of prisms and mirrors that reflect the lens image back to the viewfinder. A point and shoot camera's viewfinder is offset from the lens, meaning the viewfinder image and the lens image don't exactly match.

One of the recent changes in the camera market includes the addition of more advanced ultra zoom cameras, which look a little like DSLR models, but they don't contain interchangeable lenses or complex manual controls. They work well as a transitional camera between high-end DSLR models and point and shoot cameras.

Another good type of transitional camera is a DIL (digital interchangeable lens) camera. The DIL models don't use a mirror like the DSLR does, so DIL cameras can be made thinner than DSLRs, even though both cameras make use of interchangeable lenses.

Find more answers to common camera questions on the camera FAQ page.

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