Saturday, February 23, 2013

DSLR vs Bridge Camera (High Zoom)- Which one to buy

Hello friends. Yesterday I was on a popular photography forum and I noticed a rather interesting question from a newbie. He asked for a good suggestion for a High-Zoom or Bridge camera within a specific budget. The next part of his question is rather interesting. It goes like this- "Is it possible to go start shooting directly on a DSLR or I should gradually grow from a Compact Camera? I know the basics about Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO, but have never got the opportunity to shoot manually. I do not have the budget for an entry level DSLR right now, but if I save for a couple of months, I will be able to afford a basic DSLR. Which way should I go? "

Regarding the first question that whether one can start shooting directly on a DSLR, I would like to ask 'Why not?' Its not that you should be a master of photography for getting the license to shoot on a DSLR. Every  DSLR has an auto mode, so if you are not sure of the settings, just switch on the auto mode and let the camera do the thinking. Simultaneously, try different settings in manual mode as well. Very soon, you will be able to shoot in full manual. In fact, I think that shooting on a DSLR will help one to improve his photography  quicker than shooting on a compact camera as it forces you to think before pressing the shutter.

Now, that part being resolved, lets come to the next question. DSLR or a Bridge Camera? We all have faced this dilemma when we wanted to buy our first serious camera. Now a days bridge cameras have evolved a lot and some of them offer some astounding amount of zoom capabilities (more than 50X!!!!) at less than the price of a entry level DSLR. So its a no brainer for most of the casual photographers out there. On the other hand, some people like us, who consider ourselves as serious hobbyists, are not content with the bridge cameras. Sure they offer high zoom, but they are not quite upto the standard of DSLRs when it comes to image quality. Also, a DSLR offers far more flexibility and allows you to shoot far more creatively. Also you get to use specialist lenses. So, the guy I mentioned above has rightly asked "which way should I go?"

Honestly speaking there is no straight answer. But I would like to point out some important factors depending upon which, you may be able to form your opinion.

Its not exactly the same thing to buy a compact camera and a DSLR. In case of a compact camera, you buy the camera and pretty much thats it. At most, you will buy a couple of memory cards and a cheap tripod for it. But buying a DSLR is not the same at all. Buying the camera body (may be with the kit lens) is just the beginning. After playing around with the camera for a few days, you will realize very soon that your kit lens has a very limited application. It doesn't have a zoom coverage, and its low light performance is perhaps worse than its Bridge Camera counterpart. So, you must get a zoom lens. And so, you break your bank and get a basic zoom lens like the Nikon 55-300 mm. Now you are happy and shooting. But again after a few days, you realise, your shots are not as sharp as that of your friend who uses a fast prime lens. So you again go out and add a couple of lenses like the 35 mm and 50 mm to your arsenal (and a substantial burden on your credit card). Now you are content and think that you are done. Six months later you plan to go on a trip  to the Niagara Falls  or the Grand Canyon  and you realize to your utter disappointment that none of your current lenses are wide enough to capture all the beauty in a single shot. So you run out and buy a couple of more lenses, probably a 10-20mm lens and a 8mm fish eye lens, thereby adding more on the outstanding on your credit card. Then you realise you must have a decent tripod (probably Manfrotto or Vanguard) to take good photos, at least a Lowepro bag to carry around your stuff, a Nikon SB 800 flash and many more accessories. This continues a couple of years. Then one fine morning, you realize that may be you have spent $600 to get your basic combo of a DSLR+ Kit lens, but you have spent more than $2000 on the different accessories in these two years. Compare this to your friend who got himself a bridge camera with 50X zoom, by spending $800 on the same day in the same shop, and has not spent even a single penny more on the camera.

Hope you have got an idea. Buying a DSLR is not an end in itself. In fact actually there is no end at all. You can go on increasing and improving your equipment set over the years. On the other hand, you buy a compact Bridge Camera and pretty much thats it. You click thousands of photos over the years and after 5 years when your camera becomes a scrap, you simply throw it away (or give it to your children to play) and buy another one. Of course, you don't get the flexibility and quality of a DSLR, but hey, 90% of hobbyists out there don't care. They don't need to. They just need something good to click on and a Bridge Camera serves that purpose very well.

So, I would like to end this little post with this final advice, if you plan to improve your photography and you have the budget, go for a DSLR. You will not repent. And if photography is just something of a hobby or a passing fad for you, invest in a Bridge Camera. Even when your fad passes, you won't have lost much money anyway. I went for the first option and frankly speaking, till date I have accumulated more than 4 lenses and have spent around $1500 within 6 months. Whereas my friend got herself a Sony DSC-HX200V by spending $450. Choice is yours so choose carefully. Happy Shooting. 


  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I was also confused but now I have made up my mind. Will first buy a High Zoom Digital camera instead of a DSLR. Thanks a lot.

    1. I am glad that I could help you. Hope you will enjoy your new camera. Happy shooting.


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