Picking a digital SLR might be one of the most daunting decisions that you make in the beginning of your photography career. Whether you’re choosing to purchase a quality camera because you have outgrown the use of a simple or outdated point and shoot camera, or whether you just want to invest in a good quality camera that can serve you for years to come, a digital SLR can be a great choice.
The digital SLR offers several advantages over a traditional point and shoot digital camera. One of the most important differences between DSLRs and point and shoot cameras is that digital SLRs offer the ability to change lenses. As you progress in your photographic endeavors, it is quite possible you might find yourself limited by some of the optical abilities of a point and shoot camera. These can be two fold. Firstly, you might want to take pictures that are outside of the focal lengths of your built in lens on the point and shoot camera. For instance, if your built in focal length is 24-105mm, and you want to take nature pictures of small birds at great distances, you simply aren’t going to be able to without the use of longer focal length lenses. Likewise if you want to take grandiose, epic photos of scenic interiors, a focal length wider than 24mm might be in order. Also, you might want to take pictures in a dimmer environment than is allowed by your fixed lens on your point and shoot camera. Many point and shoot digital cameras have f-stop values of around 4.5. This is suitable for outdoors, but if you are trying to shoot indoors in dim light, you really need a lens with an aperture value of around 2.8 to avoid high noise or blurry photos.
Another advantage of digital SLRs is that they typically feature larger imaging sensors then are found in point and shoots. This allows for both greater detail, and less noise. The megapixel value of a given sensor usually dictates how large a photograph can be printed, without too much distortion or jaggy edges. There is some software and techniques that can help correct these issues, but if you are trying to print big, megapixel numbers are quite important. If you want to buy a camera that can serve you faithfully for many years, can take great photos, and is also upgradeable, a DSLR might just be right for you.