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Camera Dilemma: DSLR vs P&S

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

So first, I have to be honest with you. I am still in High School and by no means do I have enough money to buy a camera by myself. Right now, I am stuck in a very strange situation. I have used my dad's manual AV-1 camera for the last 6 months, and have really liked the process of framing every shot, which was much better than how my old A540 was used. Unfortunately, the A540 was dropped in Maine, and it broke. We need a digital camera, and my parents(specifically my mom) said that they would prefer to buy a P&S, because they would know how to use it, and because it is cheaper. My parents generally care more about price than function(I prefer the latter), and they think DSLRs are too large and bulky.In fact, they even disapproved of my purchase of >$100 "lofi" headphones. In any case, I want to buy a DSLR, but they want to P&S. I understand that I should respect their wishes, because they are paying for it, and they understand the value of money more than I do. However, I really want a DSLR because of the joy of framing every shot, and the simple fact is, I will be using it the most. They would allow me to buy a D40 used from KEH(for $350)


Here's what I am thinking:

The D40 really is not that large. It is quite "affordable", but of course this is relative because I do not have a job. Even if I purchased the DSLR, my parents probably would not approve of my purchase of new lenses, an essential part of the DSLR experience. I would love compromising on the micro 4/3s system, but that is even more expensive than the D40, and sacrifices the viewfinder. With a P&S, I would not be able to frame the shot with a 1:1 viewfinder (for lack of a better term), or the joy of manual focus. I really do not know what to say. With a P&S, I would still have a camera, have approval, and still take pictures, at the sacrifice of the photography experience. Of course, I could always wait until I have my own job to buy a DSLR.  I hope that Head-fiers will be able to help me make the best decision.


If it is a P&S, then I would appreciate help in choosing a >$300, relatively decent model. Thanks again.

post #2 of 7

A consumer level DSLR is not hard to use for plebians, just set it to all-auto mode, single-point AF, auto ISO, and let 'em blaze away.


Obviously a used D40 w/kit lens will take better shots than any P&S.  If you can live with that general focal range for a while, and convince your parents it will be easy enough for them to use, go for it.


The Canon S90 is a really hot P&S cam right now, for having a fast lens and relatively less poor ISO noise performance.  However, you might prefer the longer zoom, tougher body, and more manual controls of the G-series.

post #3 of 7

Depends on the use. Not having a P&S is the house is limiting, because DSLRs are a pain at social events, just too big and the PQ benefits not really worth it at social events. However, do you do dedicated shooting? A lot of vacations? Landscape photography? Street photography?


For some perspective, I wanted a DSLR in high school bad. But really, I was busy during high school (unlike most people ), grades, clubs girls and stuff like that, so I never had time to really properly do photography. But years later, during my last semester of college, I finally found some time to take Photo I, and it was amazing. I dedicated many days to shooting and critiques. Weeks, months of shooting, giving up my crazy social life. After I was done, I went to Peru for a bit and looked around. That's when I thought a DSLR was really useful - I was doing some serious shooting on the streets of New York, at Machu Picchu, wherever I went.


So the point is, you might want a DSLR bad right now,  but you're still in High School. If you want to do some dedicated shooting now, you feel the passion for it, talk to the parents honestly about your passion. But if not, I would wait until later in life, when you can devote some time, travel to amazing places to do photography, and learn the basics through shooting and critiques. 

Edited by Ypoknons - 5/16/10 at 6:41am
post #4 of 7

If you want a P+S, my first option would be the PowerShot S90. A close second would be the LUMIX DMC-LX3.


As for a DSLR, the closest you can get to satisfying both parties is the LUMIX DMC-GF1, but it's well out of your budget. I have the camera and I love it -- it's the size of a larger point and shoot (think PowerShot G10) with scalable functionality and DSLR quality.

post #5 of 7


The term point and shoot is offensive. They prefer to be called compact cameras :P


But really, I highly recommend the S90(this coming from a former Ricoh fanboy). Unless I'm getting paid, I wouldn't consider using SLRs again. Seriously.


Most of my pics from 2010 are with an S90:



The S90 group on flickr:



post #6 of 7

I have to agree with what Ypoknons said.

How are you going to use it ?

the end use is the deciding factor. If its family pictures of Bdays, Xmass, friends and pets, then a small point and shoot is best.

remember the easier it is to take with you and use, the more pictures you will take, and your mom has to be able to use it to.

Sounds like you know that a DSLR is not the best choice. As has been said the S90 rocks

post #7 of 7

Lumix GF1 +1


Small size.  Very versatile with the zoom kit.  An awesome camera with the 20mm 1.7 panasonic lens.  It is a bit higher ~$900 with either of the kit lenses.  This camera will do the auto point and shoot well, is a lot smaller than the DSLRs.  Criticisms would include that the actual sensor is not as big, nor as sensitive, as the better DSLRs, and the lenses, while smaller, do not have the wide range of choices, although, you can get adapters for many of the full size and regular 4/3rds lenses.


Just finished graduation season with 2 graduations this past weekend, it has worked very well for that, and I am set up for better images than my dated Canon Powershot (I would always pick the Canons for their awesome compact cameras), if nothing else 12 mega pixels vs. 8.  The Lumix sensor sensitivity meant I used the flash very little, while the Canon would need flash a lot for the same image.  The Lumix will take indoor pictures without a flash if the room is not dim.

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