That said, I have found that a DSLR has allowed me to improve on the images I was getting, for a few reasons. Firstly, the main plus point (in my book anyway) about having a DSLR over a point and shoot is the ability to change lenses based on the look you are trying to achieve. I love seeing a creamy blurred background, but my Panasonic would not give me the low aperture numbers I wanted. So I got a prime lens with the ability to stop down to 1.8 (Canon EF 50mm f/1.8) instead of the 3.6 that was the maximum I could get with my Panasonic. Secondly, pictures were terrible in low light conditions - anything above ISO200 would result in really grainy images so all my indoor photos were awful. Certainly, my DSLR gives me a bit more flexibility in this regard. The final benefit of my DSLR is the increased frames per second, which is essentially how quickly your camera can take photos.
Of course, everybody is different so the best advice I can give on the matter is this. Once you start to feel that your camera is holding you back ( and you know what in) then it is time to upgrade! Ask yourself the following questions to see if you need a DSLR....
- Do you require more flexibility in aperture settings for creating depth of field?
- Or in shutter speed for action shots?
- Do you feel that your camera lets you down in low light conditions?
- Do you feel that you often "miss the moment" waiting for your camera to catch up?
- Do you have the money? (remember that with a DSLR you are investing in a system of camera and lenses which can be quite expensive)
- Would you be happy with the extra size and weight?
- Do you want to learn more about photography?
If your answers are evenly split, the perhaps you should take a closer look at the premium point and shoots, such as the Canon Powershot G12 which retails at around $499 in the US, or about £398 in the UK (the UK version is Canon PowerShot G12) They offer a higher level of control but without the additional weight or cost.
If the answers are mainly yes, then I think it's time to bag yourself a shiny new DSLR! I'll be following up this post with another one on what to look for in a DSLR "What's the best DSLR for photographing children?" - and also one on lens choices (Best Lens for Child Photography?) hopefully this will help you make a choice on the best one out there for YOU.