Digital Prosumer Point & Shoot (P&S) vs. the Digital SLR for Macro Photography

Text and photographs copyright Mark Plonsky, 2003.

I am in a quandary. I have been using prosumer P&S digitals for macro photography for the past 3 years. I learned everything I know about photography using these cameras. I have taken a lot of bug pictures. Although folks like my images, I find the quality of the dSLR to be very alluring. And now with the announcement of a sub $1000 dollar dSLR with lens (as of 9/03), I may have to jump ship. Let me summarize the advantages and disadvantages of each type of camera for macro photography.


Advantages of P&S

  • Twist out LCD preview screen (allows odd angles with ease).
  • Relatively cheap (including additional lenses).
  • Small and light weight (allows easier hand holding of shots).
  • Awesome DOF due to small CCD (sensor) size.

Disadvantages of P&S

  • Very limited ISO settings available, so you need a lot of light.
  • Use of auto focus is slow and not very effective in low light.
  • Expansion options are limited.
  • Working distances (distance from camera lens to object of interest) are somewhat fixed and relatively short.

Advantages of dSLR

  • Quality of the image.
  • Range of ISO settings available.
  • Quicker and more effective auto focus.
  • A lot of flexibility in the lenses available.
  • Increased control over working distances due to lens flexibility.
  • Possibility for even greater DOF at high magnifications.

Disadvantages of dSLR

  • Relatively expensive.
  • No twisting LCD preview screen (you have to put your eye to the viewfinder).
  • Relatively heavy and more bulky.
The recently announced Canon 300D (Digital Rebel) brings the two categories closer together price wise at about $900 with a lens. It is also the lightest and smallest of the dSLRs which begins to address the bulk issue. The high end prosumer point and shoots cost about the same and keep getting better. It is a tough decision. The twist out LCD preview screen and portability are really big pluses for the P&Ss. Quality and flexibility are real big pluses for the dSLRs. The future is so bright, I need a polarizing lens.
All content copyright Michael Keniston 2003, 2004
Design and graphics copyright Reasonable Expectations Productions, 2003