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Choosing between an SLR or Point-and-Shoot Digital Camera

The majority of digital cameras are automatic, point-and-shoot models. They offer convenience and ease of use, providing autofocus, autoexposure, and auto just-about-everything else. But photographers who are used to working with a film SLR (single-lens reflex) camera or simply want to take more control over the picture-taking process may want to splurge on a digital SLR camera.

Many point-and-shoot digital cameras offer surprising power in a small package.
Many point-and-shoot digital cameras offer surprising power in a small package.

Most major names in film photography offer digital SLRs for the consumer market. Digital SLRs provide the same range of features as film SLRs, including interchangeable lenses, manual focus and exposure controls, and connections for an external flash. And these cameras give you the best of two worlds: When you prefer to concentrate on picture composition, you can put the camera into fully automatic mode and let it handle exposure and focus decisions.

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Of course, you pay more for this flexibility: The least expensive digital SLR models start at about $700, and that buys just the camera body. You have to pony up more for the lens.

Prefer rangefinder cameras to SLRs? You, too, can go digital — but expect to dig deep into your wallet. A typical digital rangefinder camera costs just under $3,000 — for the body only.

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