It's 2014 and the craze seems to be picture taking. Whether you use a phone, a point and shoot, a DSLR--taking pictures seems to be the it thing. Selfies have run rampant across the internet. Photos of meals and pets and fitness updates are in utter abundance. I'll admit that I too joined the party a little late, but this isn't my first rodeo into media capture. Just the first time I've really been able to take it serious.
But now that I am where I am and technology has made DSLR cameras more affordable, people are starting to inquire about what to buy! My initial response is always "What do you want to do with your pictures?". That's not always the easiest question to answer. Most say "I don't know, I just want to take quality shots that look really nice." If that's your goal here, that you want really nice pictures that you're not sure what you're going to do with after you've taken them, I will direct you to go the Point-and-Shoot route and here's why.
A really good point and shoot camera will give you the quality you're looking for with enough manual manipulation that you'll understand the basics of photography without breaking the porcelain oinker--coming in around $275. For example, I do actually have a point and shoot (Canon Powershot SX500) and use it on occasion. It has a decent optical zoom and a digital zoom of 60x. There's a manual mode just like on a DSLR where I can tweak my own settings for what I want to do and the 16 megapixel sensor means I'll have a pretty large image with good quality. I can take it to any concert or function where space is limited and not have to worry about some random person causing harm to a precious piece of equipment. It's been a joy to use at professional sport games as well (since I'm too cheap for courtside seats and that digital zoom literally goes in!). The point is: It does the job.
So why, you may ask, do I also have a DSLR and when would you recommend it? Well, I can answer part of that here and part in a later post, but the simple answer is control. The science behind photography is that you are literally capturing light and with a DSLR, you broaden your control of light. Also, a DSLR is a professional piece of equipment. It's not a selfie machine, it's not something you take with you where it could get damaged or bumped into. It's delicate. It's high end. It's meant to produce the highest of qualities of images for specific moments in life that will probably make it to a tangible existence. Most importantly, it's a tool that you as a photographer use to bring in income. Can you get one for fun? Sure (Heck, I still mostly use mine for fun now). But truthfully, you should only get a DSLR if you're willing to take the time to understand not only your camera, but photography as a whole as well. If you're going to get a DSLR and just use it in automatic mode, hold off until you're really ready. Until then, just point and shoot.