Should I Buy a DSLR Camera?

Posted on May 11th, 2012 by Discount Debbie

As a professional photographer, I get the same question from people who just purchased a DSLR. They want to know how to use it in manual. I can only assume since I have done no kind of research, 90% of DSLR users have no idea how to use their camera. (Excluding professionals of course.) Which leads me to my question, should one buy a DSLR or does a point and shoot or even iPhone suffice? I set up an experiment to find out.

I got three cameras to compare. The first is the Canon Rebel which I believe is probably the number 1 entry level DSLR or at least it’s the one I see most starters buy. I was unable to use my DSLR because they do not have manual mode which is crucial to this experiment.

Why manual mode? My theory is that you aren’t going to see much difference between a DSLR, point and shoot and an iPhone camera. Since most people don’t know how to use their cameras beyond manual mode, it would make spending the money on a DSLR utterly useless when you could just a much cheaper point and shoot or use your phone.

Here are my comparison pictures. I did three outside with no flash and three inside all with flash.

The cameras I used were a Canon Rebel, a Nikon Coolpix and a iPhone 4s.

I don’t know about you, but I think this is super interesting. Personally I think the iPhone out performed all of the cameras outside and my little point and shoot won indoors with the flash. I love the colors of the iPhone outside and obviously the ease of use was amazing.

With the DSLR you can easily miss the moment since you most likely won’t have it on you. That may even be the case with the point and shoot, but I bet most of us have our phones on us.

The whole point of this point definitely isn’t to bad mouth DSLRs. I have two and I am in love with them. However, my job requires the use of their manual capabilities. If you are spending up toward $1000 for a DSLR camera and have no intention of learning to use it out of auto or investing in better lenses, you can see you would be better off spending a fraction of that on a point and shoot or even just switching to an iPhone.

DSLRs are expensive and this Thrifty Diva is suggesting you skip them unless you plan on investing the time and money to learn more about them.

What do you think about our side by side comparison?


  1. Jodi Bradshaw May 12, 2012

    I got myself a canon dslr and don’t regret it. mine cost $500. i bought the canon dslr for dummies book to teach myself some basics. however, i rarely use the automatic button.
    i also do not have an iphone. i have a black berry and it takes aweful pictures. i hate those point and shoot cameras. i finally said i was done with those forever. its a waste of $200.

  2. Cathleen LoCicero May 12, 2012

    This was very helpful to me as I have been considering buying a DSLR. I have an I Phone 3 & the camera is lousy on it and also have a Canon 16.0 megapixels but I see fabulous photos posted on Facebook from I Phone 4’s so I think my best investment would be an I-Phone 4s. Thanks for this tip, you saved me a lot of money!

  3. julia May 12, 2012

    Debbie, great advice! I love Thrifty Divas!

  4. Michelle D May 16, 2012

    I put my camera away a long time ago, when I invested in my android phone.. Why carry camera & phone ? The phone does it all & takes much better pics!

  5. Can You Be Frugal and Have a Smartphone? | Thrifty Divas May 21, 2012

    […] Use it to photograph your life. Last week we talked about whether one should buy a DSLR or just use their iPhone. From my experience for point and shoot action, the iPhone wins almost every time. So you can save […]

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