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SLR vs P&S Dumb Question
This is probably a really dumb question... but here goes. First of all I will date myself by saying that hung on to film cameras way too long (Mamiya 645). I have used digital P&S cameras for years for work but never considered them too seriously. I consider myself a professional photographer, but am no longer in the field and fairly new to digital..

We have been planning a trip to Europe for some time now and I have struggled with a camera choice. I was going to plunge in and buy a decent digital SLR (Canon 40D), but I am a bit resistant to lug yet another heavy camera around. So I bought a Canon A720IS to fool around with over the summer to see if it would satisfy me, and the picture quality has been pretty decent& though I havent enlarged any prints from this camera. It sure is convenient though and it is always right there on my belt when I want to take a picture. I wish I could take a picture with the A720 and the 40D and compare them. Has anyone done and P&S and SLR comparisons?.

So here is the question& will the 40D be a big enough difference over the A720 to justify lugging the weight? I know it will be better& but how much better? Would it be similar to the different between 35mm and 120 roll film?.

Any suggestions greatly appreciated...

Comments (42)

It's not a big quality difference. In general, for the photos that the digicam can get, the results can be about as good as you'd get with a DSLR. It's the photos that the digicam can't get that the DSLR can&.

(It should also be noted that you can't take a picture if you don't have a camera with you, so sometimes the digicam that's on your belt can take photos that you can't take with the DSLR that's sitting in it's camera bag back home.)..

Comment #1

Doug Pardee wrote:.

It's not a big quality difference. In general, for the photos thatthe digicam can get, the results can be about as good as you'd getwith a DSLR. It's the photos that the digicam can't get that the DSLRcan&.

The optics on a DSLR are significantly better. A DSLR will provide MUCH higher quality images. And as you pointed out there are a world of shots you can't even get with a Point and Shoot..

The OP stated he considered himself a professional. That may or may not be accurate but there is such a huge difference in quality between the A720 and the 40D that it can't be simply glossed over. ANY DSLR will focus faster and shoot faster then a Point and Shoot. ANY DSLR will perform better in lower light. ANY DSLR will produce less noise in the image..

Now for the OP. If you want a small light DSLR that is reasonably priced look at the Olympus 410/420 or the 510/520. Both are about 50% of the weight of the 420 and the lenses are significantly less weight as well. Below is a sample image from my 510. I would love to see a similar image from a Point and Shoot and the 510 is NOT a good low light DSLR. I highly suggest that you don't just buy a DSLR.



Jim.

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Olympus E-510 and a bunch of stuff to hang on it...

Comment #2

A720.

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40D.

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These are pulled from this site's reviews of each..

There you go direct comparison at base ISO..

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Comment #3

These are taken in a lab environment at base ISO with the cameras on a tripod. Take them outside and shoot some real shots at higher ISO or at a long zoom and then compare them. Try taking some sports shots or anything that requires a rapid autofocus..

Lab tests are a joke. A lab analysis will accurately show that the DNA between Catherine Zeta Jones and a chimp are 98% the same..

JimOlympus E-510 and a bunch of stuff to hang on it...

Comment #4

If you are a pro, then you know that you (or someone else) processed your film photos in a dark room. The same (except on computer) must be done on digital photos from a dslr to make them exceptionally good. Keep this in mind if you decide to move up to a dslr..

Jerryhttp://jchoate.zenfolio.com/..

Comment #5

I an absolutely perfect light situations, the P&S will be able to get close to the DSLR.In real life, there won't be many situations with really great light..

You would do better with a camera like a D40 with an 18-200 and a small flash. Even though that system would not be considered marginal as far as DSLR's go..

Personally, I will always bring along a DSLR on trips. It may not be my D3 and four pro lenses, but I won't bring only a camera that can't do the job well enough..

When I spent six weeks in Europe in 2004, I carried a D100 and two lenses. A 12-24 and a 28-200. Without that, I would not have been able to get the three great shots of Lance Armstrong or the great image of the Eiffel tower hagning on the wall. Or the three thousand other great shots that I often go back to and use to enjoy the trip all over again.Chris, Broussard, LA..

Comment #6

Maddog and BA baracus make good points..

In good conditions a P&S will do well. In low light or when faster/longer/shorter lenses than your P&S has is necessary the SLR wins. For maximum quality the SLR with a good lens (better than kit lens) wins..

For size and weight and when used within it's performance envelope the P&S has the advantage..

For a vacation where you want snaps without much hassle take the P&S..

If you want to pursue photography as an advanced hobby get a SLR. Practice with it and post processing before you need to take the shots the count. The basics of film and digital are the same but the handling and processing is different. If you're taking a photography vacation take a SLR and a P&S..

PS: You'll need a pretty nice setup to get in the ballpark of a Mamiya 645. I don't think you waited too long to get into digital small format. It's just starting to get interesting..

Enjoy...

Comment #7

Thanks for posting these comparisons... the difference is quite striking...

Comment #8

Jim, I have tried to respond a number of times to your post, but for some reason this forum is giving me grief. Bottom line is that I have handled a number of SLRs and I liked the feel of the 40D..

And I regret mentioning that I did this professionally. I was in no way bragging, in fact in many ways professionals are compromised in what they can do as they need to produce what the client wants, and that often is at odds with creativity. All I meant to say was that I know my way around photography in general... I just feel like a noob with digital, so I am happy to learn from you and others in this community..

Thanks for your suggestions on alternate SLRs...

Comment #9

Thanks Chris... I have always leaned towards more of a wide angle. Did you use your 28-200 a lot?..

Comment #10

Thanks for your comments... any suggestions on what would get me close to the M645? I was so griveved when my local custom shop told me that they no longer process film... It was the final straw. I can still send my film to Toronto for processing, but it is a pain...

Comment #11

Maddogmd11 wrote:.

These are taken in a lab environment at base ISO with the cameras ona tripod. Take them outside and shoot some real shots....

Agree. Still, I find, camera reviews (like on dpreview) are very valuable source. But the point (you've made) is: one must know what to look after, how to interpret that info and limitations of such tests..

Lab tests are a joke. A lab analysis will accurately show that theDNA between Catherine Zeta Jones and a chimp are 98% the same..

LOL. You're right... the thing is, in general, p&s and dslr are basically 98% the same too (capturing photo). But remaining 2% can (and does) make a huge difference for some -this difference isn't much noticeable in reviews, though..

It can also happen, that for some, this difference isn't that visible (or important) at all... Taking landscape photo at sunny day (using either p&s or slr) and printed (if at all) on 4x6" paper doesn't make any difference. It's up to expectations and needs..

And there's also size/weight/price issue. We shouldn't blame those who prefer p&s because of that. It is similar as comparing Rebel vs 1Dmk3: I know, 1D must be (and is) better in many ways, but for ME, it's not worth... or: "it's not THAT better" .

And yes, such comparison usually are meaningless -because it's hart to tell how important this (2%) difference can be..

Geetings,BogdanMy pictures are my memorieshttp://freeweb.siol.net/hrastni3/..

Comment #12

Not a dumb question at all and the previous replies are also worthwhile and reasonalbe..

My two cents worth? Well, how about the Canon 450D instaed of the 40D? I have no doubt that the 40D is the better CAMERA, but the 450D has the edge in resolution and image quality and is smaller, lighter and cheaper to boot. Also, any lenses you purchase for one camera can be used for the other, so no problem later if you decide to change or add to your system...

Comment #13

Sounds like you're still hankering after 645 quality and aren't happy with compromising. Stop looking for the impossible in tiny little cameras, which won't be that much better than what you already have, pick up a Canon 5D body and mount a 24-105 L on it. Search at PBase.com and Flikr.com 'by camera' and see what other people are posting from that combination..

Importantly, if you truly cannot see much difference between shots from that combo and your P&S then you really don't need anything more than the greater control offered by a G9... or maybe that recently announced Nikon P600 compact which - for landscape photographers - starts from a more useful 28mm..

John.Please visit me at:http://www.pbase.com/johnfr/backtothebridgehttp://www.pbase.com/johnfr/digital_dartmoor..

Comment #14

Jerry... I know what you mean about the final quality being a function of the printing process... but (perhaps mistakenly) thought that it was kess of an issue with digital. Now that I think about it, many of the same limitations / challenges in printing from film also apply to digital...

Comment #15

John, ther reason I held off from going full digital for so long was that I was just not happy with the quality. I did tests with a 35mm film point and shoot and a digital P&S, printed both images to 8x10 (portrait) and there was no comparison. But that was a number of years ago... and things have changed a lot since then..

Probably the worst thing I did for my love of photography was to make it work. It has been quite a while though since I changed gears and now I can pick up a camera and have fun again... without it conjuring up images of work..

So, you are right, it is important for me to find the right camera... I hate the compromise as it costs more in the long run. Thanks for your recommendations!.

David..

Comment #16

I used the 28-200 often, but used the 12-24 more. With a crop camera, 28-200 became a normal to long lens. For scenes of the trip, most candids and walk around lens, I would more often use the 12-24. I would guess that it was 60% for the 12-24 and 40% 28-200..

Fstopphoto wrote:.

Thanks Chris... I have always leaned towards more of a wide angle.Did you use your 28-200 a lot?.

Chris, Broussard, LA..

Comment #17

Fstopphoto said: "Jerry... I know what you mean about the final quality being a function of the printing process... but (perhaps mistakenly) thought that it was kess of an issue with digital. Now that I think about it, many of the same limitations / challenges in printing from film also apply to digital.".

In fact, well-processed film still holds a slight edge over most digital images unless the digital images are taken in raw and well-processed. On the other hand, you know immediately whether or not your digital images are good, whereas you must wait on film. Given your background in photography, painting with light will be easy for you and you will only need to learn the basics of a good photoprocessing software. Therefore, I suggest that you consider getting a pro camera (such as a 5D) or a good semi-pro model (such as the 40D)..

Jerryhttp://jchoate.zenfolio.com/..

Comment #18

Jchoate wrote:.

Therefore, I suggest that you considergetting a pro camera (such as a 5D) or a good semi-pro model (such asthe 40D)..

I agree with your statements, so I didn't copy them..

But since I am a Nikon fanboy, I should mention that he should consider the D700 and D300 too..

Chris, Broussard, LA..

Comment #19

Chris:.

You are correct. Either of those Nikons would be a good choice. I merely suggested the Canons because the OP mentioned Canon cameras in his original post. Cheers..

Jerryhttp://jchoate.zenfolio.com/..

Comment #20

Frankly I'd keep the Mamiya kit for the work that needs very good quality. In my case I did. I do sometimes like to print large landscapes and the Mamiya fits that need. I don't shoot enough film to be a large expense and I do have a few local shops that will develop and scan..

For most shooting I need reasonably good up to 8x12 or very rarely 11x14. Less critical than medium format yields. I personally cover this with a pair of APS-C sized Pentax's with 21mm, 43mm, 77mm primes. In a pinch I have a rangefinder, 3 Canon film bodies and assorted primes to back them. They're too nice to sell, especially at the price I'd get for them..

For the SLR right now I'd be looking at the Canon 40D due it's low price and build quality. Put good lenses on it and you'll be happy. I'd suggest top notch primes, but that's just me. The other brands make nice cameras in the same price range but the 40d is currently heavily reduced making it a bargain to consider. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention you should look at the Nikon D300 and Pentax K20 depending on your needs, budget, and feature set you prefer. Olympus makes nice cameras on the top end too..

For a carry around and non-photography vacations I like a digital P&S. In my case a Canon A640. I bought the A6xx series because they have optical viewfinders (not good ones, but they one, and few P&S' do), take AA batteries, and feels ok in my hands for a camera of it's size and purpose...

Comment #21

PPS:.

My A640 does an ok job at making 8x12's when viewed at normal distance. It's not as good as my Pentax DSLR's can do at 11x14. On a web gallery or desktop wallpaper I notice the flaws of the P&S more than with the DSLR.I suspect the lenses and technique used for the different styles make the difference...

Comment #22

Chris... I did try the D300... and liked it. I can't remember the exact reasons, but liked the 40D a tad better. Thanks for your suggestions..

David..

Comment #23

Chris, maybe this comes from my hiking days, but I would find the weight of carrying a tele to be not really worth it for the number of times that I would use it. The 24-200 is a really wide range though and gives lots of flexibility. I imagine is is fairly big... was the weight a factor in how often you used it?.

David..

Comment #24

Jerry, I am pretty much landing on the 40D... I am interested in your comments of photoprocessing software... this is totally new ground to me. Is this something like Photoshop or is there some other software that you are referring to?.

And... what I love about digital is that you can immediately see your image. In the old days we had to use polarouds to check the lighting  Boy that makes me feel old .

David..

Comment #25

No weight was not a factor. I am a very big guy who thinks all of the post complaining about weight of cameras is funny. In my every day freelance work. I use several D2 bodies and D3 with pro lenses, so this photo kit was a pared down, lightweight thing fo rme.I am 6foot tall and weigh 260 pounds, so a 45pound camera packpack for me is not a problem. Again, I thought my kit for the Europe trip was very light- In fact I hiked with the handlebar bag that had the camera, battery pack and two lenses for several hours up very steep Alpine and Pyrenean slopes to get into position to photograph the Tour de France. That was a six week riding and hiking, traveling on trains when needed trip.That lens is the old Nikon 28-200:.

Http://www.mir.com.my/...es/nikon/nikkoresources/AFNikkor/AF28200mm/index.htm.

It is a somewhat compact lens for it's range. I do not have the hood for it, so it packs a little smaller..

What determined my focal length was need, not weight. If I could get close and use the wider lens, then that's what I would use. If I needed the view form a longer lens, then I would swap..

Fstopphoto wrote:.

Chris, maybe this comes from my hiking days, but I would find theweight of carrying a tele to be not really worth it for the numberof times that I would use it. The 24-200 is a really wide rangethough and gives lots of flexibility. I imagine is is fairly big...was the weight a factor in how often you used it?.

David.

Chris, Broussard, LA..

Comment #26

There is no question that typically DSLRs take better quality pictures than smaller point and shoot cameras. Also, it seems that you are reluctant to always carry around a larger camera, possibly with multiple lenses. However, I'm told that carrying around a big camera, with multiple lenses, flash units, and tripod builds muscle and "character"..

One solution you might consider ... get two cameras. One small one that you carry with you all the time, and another bigger camera that you take along when you want to be more serious about your photography..

I have a Panasonic TZ3 (28-289mm) that is a great little travel camera. It fits nicely in a small pouch on my belt. I hardly know it's there..

Here's a picture I took with it one evening in Paris. I was out for a night of sight seeing with my wife and I would never have considered bringing a large camera with me. I wanted to enjoy the evening, not just take pictures..

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Yes, I know ... the NOISE!!! The photo was taken at full zoom without flash at ISO3200 (some PP, including default noise reduction). Actually, it printed very nicely at 4"x6" for my photo album of the trip..

I think it's one of the most interesting shots I took on my visit to France. If I had a large camera with me on my trip, I would NOT have taken it with me that evening. I would have witnessed the scene and said "I wish I had brought my camera". Instead, I chose to carry a small camera and I have a photo that I'm very happy with..

So maybe you need two (or three?) cameras??? No single camera satisfies every need..

Good luck,.

- Simon.

Http://scpics.smugmug.com/..

Comment #27

Because the best camera in the world is worthless if you don't have it with you..

Comment #28

Simon... thanks! I am thinking the same thing. Just this morning I was telling my wife that I would take my P&S Canon A720 as well as my (yet to be acquired) SLR. I just need to figure out which SLR and lenses I need for travel..

That is a great picture! Thanks for sharing it... capturing the scene is more important that quality. I remember getting a stunning picture of a waterfall in the mountains with an incredible range of mountains in the background... the lioghting was perfect. Sadly, I had my 35mm with me not my 645... and it was pretty grainy at 16x20.



So... there is the dilemma... what if you have a great photo op and have chosen the P&S. This paranoia would drive me to lug the SLR everywhere .

David..

Comment #29

Fstopphoto wrote:.

Will the 40D be a big enough difference overthe A720 to justify lugging the weight? I know it will be better&but how much better?.

Are you planning to enlarge your prints to 10' x 12', or sell them, or make posters, or publish in the National Geographic, Discovery Channel, History Channel, etc.?.

Then go with an DSLR with a macro, a prime, and a zoom lens that hang from your shoulders that says "look everyone, I am a pro photog!"..

If not, and you just want to show your pics to your cousin Moe who lives in the basement, then stick with a cheap, small, light weight P&S...

Comment #30

Fstopphoto said: "Jerry, I am pretty much landing on the 40D... I am interested in your comments of photoprocessing software... this is totally new ground to me. Is this something like Photoshop or is there some other software that you are referring to?".

You will receive a copy of Digital Photo Professional with your 40D. This is a reasonably good photoprocessing software to begin with. Eventually, you will want to move up to something like Photoshop Elements or full-blown Photoshop. The former is a simpler and much less expensive version of the latter that will do basic processing but lacks the sophisticated capabilities of the latter. The learning curve for these programs is steep for a non-techie like me, so you might want to start with Elements..

Jerryhttp://jchoate.zenfolio.com/..

Comment #31

Hi,.

There's several points to make, carry an SLR and you'll need a tripod to make the best of it but - if you're going to take a tripod, then the P&S will work wonders on it....

For travel I prefer the small but highest quality in a small packet I can get/afford. Currently a Panasonic LX2, which could be perfect with an optical finder so I don't have to wave it about at arms length: are you listening Panasonic or Leica? Of course, in practice you look for something to jam it against and leave the tripod at home. Other than that the majority of touristy pictures are taken in (too) brilliant lighting and when not, flash will work OK because flash is part of the atmosphere of the shot..

The main problem for me when traveling is the size of the dSLR which needs a case over the shoulder and then you fill the case with junk (just in case - of course) and lose the joy of walking about with a small camera in your pocket. At night it's difficult to go out for a walk, meal or drink with a case etc and it gets left in the hotel and then might be stolen. Friends have had this happen: they had all the worry of deciding in it's favour for nothing..

Worse still, a lot of people are intimidated by big cameras but a P&S means you're just a tourist and can be ignored. And - as ever - with a dSLr or a film SLR you always want the other lens on the camera and by the time it is and you've picked up the rear lens cap which has rolled away into the mud/road/bullring, you could have taken ten shots with the P&S and one would have been be perfect..

Of course, I wonder if you just want a dSLR anyway and suggest that you go ahead and buy it but take the P&S with you as well. Your wife/partner/current girlfriend can take the P&S and use it and then you get two bites at the cherry. But expect the P&S to get the better of you a lot of the time. I speak from bitter experience, my wife has had shots taken with an elderly, 3 mp P&S accepted for a calendar....

Just my 2d worth..

Regards, David..

Comment #32

David -.

I'm glad you liked my Paris shot. I'm sure you'll have a great time in Europe. If the purpose of your trip is primarily photographic, there's no question that you need to bring along a good DSLR. However, if you just want to have fun and photography is secondary concern, you might consider just taking your Canon point and shoot..

Just a suggestion ... in your initial post, you mentioned that you haven't done much printing from your Canon P&S. Before you make your final decision, you might want to experiment with printing large. I think you might be pleasantly surprised. I think you'll be very happy with 8x10's. Choose some shots that you like with detail in them.

You can take your files to a most camera shops (or online shops) relatively inexpensively ... or ... maybe you have large printing capabilities at home?.

Enjoy your trip and good luck on the camera front ....

- Simon.

Http://scpics.smugmug.com/..

Comment #33

Take a look at this thread on the Panasonic Forum. It compares photos taken with a Panasonic TZ5 to similar photos taken with a Nikon D40. Maybe your "dumb question" about P&S cameras vs. DSLRs wasn't so dumb after all ....

Http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums/read.asp?forum=1033&message=28912540.

I should mention the above is not a "scientific test" comparing the two cameras and the photos were taken in good light ... one of the TZ5's strengths. However, it does make one think about how much one really "loses" by not lugging around a DSLR and multiple lenses while traveling through Europe..

- Simon.

Http://scpics.smugmug.com/..

Comment #34

I resisted moving into the DSLR camp for years largely because my point-and-shoot camera took really great shots. I decided recently to switch because of this - that while my p&s camera does take great photos, my comparison was really within the p&s image quality department. My first DLSR shots revealed to me I was right to make the switch - DSLR images are sharper, cleaner, crisper. And yes, I will never get back to p&s especially to shoot memorable vacations or trips.Noogy..

Comment #35

This is interesting... still I feel the bug of a DSLR... I just need to decide which one. Another member on the forum had suggested a Oly 510. There are some amazing prices on this camera as it has recently been eclipsed by the 520. I can get this on Amazon for half the price if a 40D.



David..

Comment #36

Jerry, thanks... I have PS and find it really unfriendly and diffilult to use and I am a techie person... so I would welcome some more user friendly software...

Comment #37

Thanks Noogy... I think it is like enjoying your AV system till you hear/see something better... and the old non high def looks really bad. I really have a hard time watching channels now that are not high def...

Comment #38

I am landing exactly where you suggest... I do plan to get a DSLR, but the A720 will travel with us as well, and I will be annoyed is my wife gets shots that I don't .

The P&S are so easy to carry and use that it takes the intimidation/inconvience factor out of play...

Comment #39

I know. The OP asked for it and since I have neither model I posted the images off this site..

90% of real world shots are going to show a greater advantage to a DSLR..

Focus speed, dynamic range, high ISO, shot to shot time, frame rate, etc will all allow one to capture images that the compact will just fumble for..

The compact is set up to have over saturated colors and tons of sharpening right out of the box. Thats fine if you like that fake look and never plan on editing anything..

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Comment #40

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for their input. I settled on the 40D with the 17-85. It is fun to play with a real camera again... though my initial results do not show a glaring difference from my P&S. I guess I will have to take some time to get to know the new girlfriend ..

Comment #41

Sometimes there is a huge difference:dSLR.

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Full size:http://picasaweb.google.com/...allize/Viennabynight/photo#5235165260461359618P&S.

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Full size:http://picasaweb.google.com/...teodor.nitica/Vienna/photo#5235611501681694562In ideal conditions P&S can keep quite close especially at small prints.VictorBucuresti, Romaniahttp://s106.photobucket.com/albums/m268/victor_petcu/http://picasaweb.google.com/teodor.nitica/..

Comment #42

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