If you are shopping around for a new camera, you have no doubt been comparing digital SLR cameras vs point and shoot cameras. The best digital cameras, after all, can be found in both varieties. Keep reading to learn more about the key differences between these two popular types of cameras.


  • When it comes to image quality and performance, Digital SLR (DSLR) cameras have the edge on point and click cameras, as the former is made for professionals.
  • Point and click cameras tend to be much cheaper, more durable, and easier to use than DSLR cameras.
  • DSLR cameras integrate with photo-enhancing accessories, such as tripods and gimbals, whereas point and click models may not.

Differences Between Digital SLR Cameras and Point and Shoot

The primary difference between DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras and point-and-shoot cameras is who they are aimed toward. Digital SLR cameras are marketed toward creative professionals and serious shutterbugs, whereas point and shoot cameras are more for amateurs and those who just want something simple and easy to use. In other words, the differences between the two are fairly stark, though the same cannot be said when comparing 16MP digital cameras to 20MP digital cameras.

Here are some of the ways in which the differences in the design of DSLR cameras and point-and-shoot cameras will impact your photography.

Insider Tip

Some point and shoot cameras are aimed toward mid-grade professionals, so they are still filled with some high-end features typically available only on DSLRs.

Image Quality

In nearly every aspect regarding image quality, DSLR cameras come out on top. DSLR cameras boast a wider depth of field, a larger sensor size, a higher-quality optical viewfinder, the capacity for interchangeable lenses, increased shutter speed, external flash, and more. These larger image sensors make DSLRs highly sought after by professional photographers.


Point and shoot cameras are made for amateurs so they are extremely easy to use, with an obvious shutter button that just works with you click it and a variety of auto modes. With DSLR cameras, on the other hand, you will often have to rely on manual controls instead of automatic modes. Point-and-shoot cameras are also typically more durable than DSLR cameras, as amateurs are more prone to accidents than professionals. In other words, if you are looking to compare waterproof digital cameras, keep an eye on point-and-click cameras.


Point and shoot cameras tend to be much cheaper than digital SLR cameras, as they are intended to be purchased by average consumers and not by professional shutterbugs. You can usually pick up a point and shoot for less than 1/3rd of the cost of a high-grade DSLR. Of course, many amateurs simply stick with the cameras included with their smartphones or related mobile devices, for simplicity’s sake.

Size and Weight

Point and shoot models are typically smaller and weigh much less than digital SLR cameras. This makes them easy to pack away in a suitcase for a vacation or to simply stuff it in a drawer when not in use. DSLRs can be heavy, relatively clunky, and often require a dedicated travel case or storage container. If you are an amateur photographer, get your water wings with a point and shoot before moving on to the more complex and heavier DSLR camera.


Durability will depend on make and model, but DSLR camera manufacturers assume a certain level of professionalism amongst their customer base. In other words, DSLRs are not typically made to survive accidental drops and the like. Compact cameras, such as point and shoots, can usually survive a fall or two before receiving any damage, as even their LCD screens are protected. Of course, you can always benefit from a screen protector, a dedicated storage case, and various levels of protective padding.

Integration With Accessories

If you are looking to up your photography or videography game with accessories intended for increased performance, you should go with a DSLR camera. Most DSLR cameras can be outfitted with a variety of interchangeable lenses, stabilizing gimbals, tripods, and more. When it comes to point-and-click cameras, you will not have much luck finding high-end photo-enhancing accessories. This is because they are made for simple shots without much fanfare.


SLR vs DSLR: What’s the difference?

A single-lens reflex camera, otherwise known as an SLR camera, is the predecessor of a digital single-lens reflex camera. In other words, there is no digital component.

Why is a DSLR camera important?

DSLR cameras are primarily used for professional photography, such as journalism, sports photography, and wildlife photography. So they are important in that regard. Additionally, most artistic photographs are taken by a DSLR camera.

Are high-quality megapixels a must?

Megapixel counts do matter, but so does the image sensor and whatever software algorithms are at use in your camera. In other words, megapixels are not the only standard by which photographers measure the quality of their cameras.

STAT: “Unit total sales of all types of point-and-shoot cameras declined by 17 percent year on year but increased by 16 percent for cameras having optical zoom greater than 10x.” (source)

Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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