Digital camera vs. DSLR

Camera & Photo

If you feel confident in your skill, get the DSLR, but don’t lose sight of the fact that digital cameras are capable of some amazing photographs.

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Is a digital camera or DSLR better? 

When you’re in the market for a new camera, there are a plethora of options. Depending on your experience level, what you plan to photograph, and your budget, your choices can vary greatly. Digital cameras are ubiquitous and relatively easy to use, with plenty of point-and-shoot options as well as higher-end mirrorless options with stabilization features and huge memory banks. DSLR cameras are slightly more old-fashioned in that they utilize mirrors to take incredibly clear images, and they can be used with film. Both options have the ability to connect with a computer to save and edit images. Which is better for you is a matter of preference and use case.

DSLR cameras

DSLR cameras are a hot commodity right now. There’s a simple appeal to the mechanically rotating mirror that manages to capture crystal-clear images. DSLRs are so good because they allow you a lot of free reigns to capture a photograph exactly the way you want it. There are hundreds of settings and functions to play around with until you figure out exactly what you want out of a shoot.

The large, heavy, thick camera is shaped that way because it has to contain the mirror box, but it still fits well in your hand. DSLRs aren’t completely analog — they have LCD screens and can even record digital video. These cameras are iconic and people may instantly recognize them as high quality. You don’t have to be a professional to use one, but there are a lot of nuances to this machine’s settings, and there is a definite learning curve.


The DSLR lets you choose exactly what you want out of a photograph thanks to its detailed customization and ability to focus. It’s versatile because of the way it can use film and digital, as well as its ability to hook up to a computer so you can directly upload video. A DSLR camera is excellent at shooting in low-light environments because of its high-tech sensors. Perhaps its best advantage is the ability to swap different lenses so you can choose the right one for any kind of shot.


Because of the way it’s constructed, a DSLR doesn’t have built-in stabilization, which means you’ll need steady hands or your own stabilizer to attach to it. There are some electronics in the DSLR, but it doesn’t have the same kind of auto-focusing ability that many mirrorless cameras have now. This camera relies much more on the user to ensure a good shot. One thing to know about DSLRs is that you can’t use the viewfinder if you want to film video; the mirror inside flips up, which blocks the viewfinder and forces you to use the LCD screen, which can be difficult to see on a sunny day due to glare.

Best DSLR camera

Canon EOS-1D X Mark III Body

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark III Body is a robust camera fit for professional photographers. It’s the most advanced camera Canon makes right now. This will cost you an arm and a leg, but you get what you pay for.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Digital cameras

Digital cameras don’t have any mirrors in them. The captured image is imprinted directly onto a sensor, meaning there’s no film to worry about, just memory space. Mirrorless cameras are less popular due to their apparent flimsiness and lower image quality, but in recent years the gap between the image quality of DSLR and digital has decreased. Newer digital cameras also come with many features that can simplify a photographer’s work.

Even though they’re smaller than DSLRs by a good margin, they contain more tech that can even the playing field between you and a more skilled photographer. Pictures will be focused exactly the way you like them to be since a large amount of sensors in mirrorless cameras let them autofocus with ease. You’ll be hard-pressed to capture a blurry image, even if it’s moving.


Digital cameras take up less space and are all-around much easier to use than DSLRs. Their forgiveness and exceptional image quality make them a fun camera to take pictures with. They come with a casing on the inside that acts as a stabilizer, ensuring you’re not at the mercy of muscle twitches or shaky hands.

There used to be a lot of negativity toward digital cameras because of their inability to switch out DSLR lenses without the use of a special adapter. Now, the adapters are native and you won’t have to buy any extra parts. Many new digital cameras let you manually choose where to focus by touching your finger to the LCD screen. The ease of everything already being digital makes sending and sharing work quick, and it makes video editing a breeze.


Digital cameras don’t fit as well into your hand because they’re small and thin and feel a bit less dense, and they can feel less sturdy than a DSLR. You have to keep extra battery packs charged so you’re able to shoot for more than two hours. The camera’s small body can make image capture difficult when you’re using a larger lens because it’s difficult to balance. While you gain a lot of features that help you capture movement in focus, you have fewer options when you want to experiment.

Best digital camera

Sony A9 II Mirrorless Camera

The Sony A9 II Mirrorless Camera is a compact camera perfect for sports or photojournalism, thanks to its advanced subject recognition and ability to optimize each picture it takes for clarity, minimizing blur. It’s a monster, and it will shine especially when the light is dim. There’s absolutely no equal camera when it comes to getting action shots.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Should you get a DSLR or digital camera?

You should probably have both, because they each work the best in certain situations. The DSLR is better for experienced photographers who know how to get the most out of its features and keep it focused correctly. A mirrorless digital camera makes life easy and excels when it comes to keeping everything in focus all the time, no matter how fast it’s moving in relation to you. If you feel confident in your skill, get the DSLR, but don’t lose sight of the fact that digital cameras are capable of some amazing photographs.


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Sam Bramlett writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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