Compact Digital, Fixed Lens, and DSLR Cameras - dummies

Compact Digital, Fixed Lens, and DSLR Cameras

By Thomas Clark

Which camera should you use for macro and close-up photography? There are three general categories for digital cameras on the market, each designed to suit the needs of a different type of photographer.

Because each type of camera suits a different style of shooting, you can select the camera that works best for your particular style, or (like some photographers) you can own all three, which enables you to choose your camera based on the occasion. Here are the specs for each type of digital camera:

  • Compact digital cameras are designed for the mainstream consumer who is more concerned with instant results than in spending time enhancing the quality of her photography. These cameras are typically very small and lightweight, and come with a minimal amount of features or accessories.

    A point and shoot camera enables you to literally point and shoot without having to worry about achieving focus on your subject or worrying about your exposure.

  • Fixed lens digital cameras enable you to simply point and shoot, but also offer more features and accessories than compact digital cameras. Generally these cameras are larger in size than the compacts and smaller than DSLRs. And they offer a great deal of manual controls for point and shoot cameras.

  • Digital single lens reflex cameras are not typically used as point and shoot cameras, because they’re more complex in nature and tend to be more expensive. The DSLR provides the greatest amount of manual control and is most commonly used by serious photographers.

Although DSLR cameras offer the highest quality and control, they tend to be expensive and heavy, and they’re often accompanied by multiple lenses and accessories. If this doesn’t seem like the camera you want to travel with or use on a day-to-day basis, then a digital point and shoot may be more up your alley.

Compact and fixed lens digital cameras don’t offer all the macro and close-up versatility of a DSLR, but they can be used to create amazing images all the same. And they’ll do so without causing anxiety for those of you who prefer not to get caught up in the technical side of things.

Here’s a rundown of the differences:

  • Point of focus: DSLR cameras provide more precise control over your point of focus and produce images that generally have a higher quality of sharpness.

  • Depth of field: Digital point and shoot cameras tend to produce images with greater depth of field. This is great for scenes in which you prefer to include as much sharp detail as possible, but makes it more difficult to create images with selective focus.

  • Image size: Most digital cameras made today produce large image files. Whether you use a DSLR, a compact digital camera, or a fixed lens digital camera, you should have no problem creating the print size you desire.

  • Shooting speed: Digital point and shoot cameras tend to operate more slowly than DSLR cameras. If you plan to photograph fast-moving subjects, or are big on capturing the decisive moment, then perhaps a DSLR is the more logical choice.