Here is some additional info from a member who emailed me the answer to Cecilia's question:
I have been an amateur photographer for many many years. Personally, I love the benefits of an SLR, and I absolutely love digital, assuming the number of megapixels is high enough to give the detail I want. I purchased a Canon Rebel Digital SLR several years ago that has been an absolute joy. Nikon had not released their line of dSLRs as yet. I have been a Nikon user for years and really like the quality and range of lenses. Unfortunately the price of the Nikon I really want is a little out of reach.
My ex daughter-in-law worked for a professional photographer and is now married to one. Many Pros use top of the line digital SLRs. Those cameras run $10K and up. I drool over those but they are just too far out of my amateur range.
One note about the memory stick. Spend the extra money to buy the largest FASTEST memory stick you possibly can. If you must sacrifice something, buy faster and smaller. You will REALLY get tired of waiting for the camera to copy the photo to the stick. You will miss out on a lot of shots your really want. FAST is much more important than size. Second note: keep a spare smaller memory stick handy just in case you fill one up.
I use a 120X 4 gig CF in my Canon Rebel EOS. I have NEVER filled it up completely, and I have taken hundreds and hundreds of shots without downloading.
The type of memory stick (compactflash, SD, micro SD, etc) is only important depending on how you are going to download the shots and use them. If you have a laptop, it probably has a SD port, compactflash is not as prevalent. Many digital photo frames support all the different types of memory. SD is generally supported in more different kinds of devices. For example, GPS units can be used to view photos on SD sticks, Some MP3 players support SD as well. Some Compact flash on the other hand have HUGE capacity. I have a CF micro hard drive that is 8 gig in size. Unfortunately, a micro HD is also SLOOOW. Looking back I would have been better served to buy
Pros of dSLR.
(1) Wider range of lenses available. You arent stuck with what the manufacturer installed on the camera. Telephoto, macro, whatever you want. Assuming you have the money to buy additional / better lenses. I love being able to use a lens that will REALLY reach out and put me in the middle of whatever I am shooting.
(2) Through the lens viewing. You see what you are going to get a shot of.
(3) Generally speaking (depending on the camera) more control over how the shot is taken.
(4) Depending on the speed of the camera (and the memory stick) you can take shots faster that with a compact.
(5) Better accessories like professional flash units, etc.
(6) Larger megapixels available. Get at least 6 megapixels. 8 -10 is better, but more expensive. 12-15 is fabulous but horribly expensive.
(7) Most usually have a sports mode where you can take many photos quickly without having to wait for the photos to save to the stick.
Cons of dSLR.
(1) Larger size camera and camera bag. More weight and size to lug around and more weight
(2) More expensive, especially for the larger megapixel versions. I good dSLR like a Canon Rebel or Nikon D?? will run between $500 and $1000 depending on the lens you choose.
(3) Smaller LCD for reviewing shots.
(4) Mirror must still move out of the way.
(5) Movie mode generally not available
(6) LCD generally not available as a preview or viewfinder.
(7) Very limited time exposures. Can NOT do exposures longer than 30 seconds or so. Useless for astronomy photography.
(8) Some dSLRs do not give you the ability to turn off the flash and use available light. This can prevent using the camera in a museum.
I also have several compact cameras. One that was broken accidentally by my grandson was a Nikon 990 with the body that twists separate from the lens. This was fabulous for holding over my head and taking shots above the crowd. I also have a fairly decent camera in my cell phone which I have used in a pinch.
My wife carries a small Canon compact in her purse that she really loves. It is easy to use and small enough she carries it all the time. Price was right and the megapixels were high enough to get good shots. For her, this is all she needs.
Pros of Compact
(1) Lower price generally. You can still get plenty of megapixels without spending a fortune.
(2) Much smaller size. You can get one to put in your pocket of purse and not be concerning about size and weight.
(3) If the camera has a LCD on the back you can use this as your view finder.
(4) Larger LCD for reviewing shots. Some are QUITE large.
(5) Generally easier to use. Just turn it on and take pictures.
(6) Many can also take mini movies
Cons of Compact
(1) No lens choice. You CAN pick a camera with a fairly long zoom. Make sure you get what you want like macro (if you need it) and telephoto. On telephoto, make sure you get at least 4x OPTICAL and whatever digital you want. The optical is important. Digital just doubles the pixel size which is useless unless you have a huge megapixel camera. You can still get a 6-10 megapixel compact for a decent (under $500) price.
(2) Bright daylight makes the LCD hard to see.
(3) Usually not as fast as a more expensive dSLR between shots. (Even with the fastest version of memory stick,
(4) No time exposures. I.E. NO astronomy photography period.
(5) Some compacts do not give the ability to turn off the flash.
(6) Some compacts do not have a timer so YOU can be in the shot.
Batteries? What kind of batteries do the cameras use. Purchasing a lot of AA batteries can get expensive. However, a pair of AAs in a compact camera can still take several hundred pictures (if you dont use flash) Rechargeable arent as expensive, but you must charge them before you use them. Rechargeables have a limited life regardless of what people say
One last thought: Personally, If I was forced to choose, I would spend my money on a dSLR. I love the flexibility and quality of the shots. Get the biggest megapixels you possibly can even if you must save up. But why have only one camera. Get yourself a small inexpensive compact and carry that one ALL the time. If you get two that use the same type of memory, so much the better.
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