Do I need a DSLR?

Do I need a DSLR? This is a question I think a lot of us ask when we want to start taking better photos than the standard family snapshots. I certainly did, and I upgraded my camera from a high-end Panasonic point and shoot to a Canon DSLR and lenses, and have absolutely no regrets. But it's worth bearing in mind that whilst cameras are amazing tools that can help you get the type of pictures you see in your head, it will not instantly improve your photography! Image composition, timing, knowledge of exposure, how to use the light to your advantage and how to edit your photos effectively can improve your photographs tremendously, whatever type of camera you are using.

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....
  1. Do you require more flexibility in aperture settings for creating depth of field?
  2. Or in shutter speed for action shots?
  3. Do you feel that your camera lets you down in low light conditions?
  4. Do you feel that you often "miss the moment" waiting for your camera to catch up?
  5. 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)
  6. Would you be happy with the extra size and weight?
  7. Do you want to learn more about photography?
If the answer is no to most of these, then maybe it's best to stick with your point and shoot, and work on getting the best out your current camera through the things I mentioned above.

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.


Sarahmumof3 said...

I have a point and shot at the minute and where I think I manage to take ok photos with it I long for a DSLR, often people ask me what camera I'm using expecting me to have a snazzy set up, but like you say you can get great photos with even the cheapest camera with a bit of understand coposition and editing please come take a look at my blog and you'll see some of my photos http://thisisme-sarahmumof3.blogspot.com

Audrey said...

Hey Sarah, had a look at your blog this morning - you do take good photographs! The first thing that struck me was you obviously understand composition and have a good eye for what "makes" a photo. I always think that is more important than the camera you use, but like you I always want a better camera than I have! Hope you find some things on the blog that interest you..x

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