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DSLR vs Bridge Camera

Discussion in 'General Equipment Chat & Advice' started by philneale99, Aug 1, 2008.

  1. philneale99

    philneale99 New Member


    I'm very inexperienced with regard to photography, so please forgive me if my questions seem a bit basic.

    I currently only use a simple point and shoot (Fuji F31), but am thinking about upgrading. I'd like to know what are the main differences between a good point and shoot and a low range DSLR. I was originally looking at the Fuji S8100FD as an option, but wonder how this would stack up against, say, the Sony Alpha 200. Or if there is a better DSLR or brdge camera for similar money? My budget is max around £300, or slightly more if there was a real good reason to stretch it.

    I want to know things like which has the best zoom range - the Sony with a 18-70mm lens (standard), or the 18x optical Fujifilm? Also, will the speed of the Sony be much quicker between taking pictures (ie for capturing sport).

    Any help or advice would be gratefully appreciated.


  2. LargeFormat

    LargeFormat Well-Known Member

    You really need to tell us what you are going to use the camera for and how far you want take your photography. The general consensus is to go for a dSLR but there may be other considerations. A good bridge camera like the Fuji S9600 is amazing value at under £200.00. It has a zoom range of 28-300mm (35mm equivalent). For travelling, with just a single unit and without any dust worries or even without too much of a worry about loosing it it makes a lot of sense. A dSLR, on the other hand can grow with your photography.
  3. philneale99

    philneale99 New Member

    Thanks - at the moment I'm not really sure where I want to go. I would like the option to improve my skills, hence thinking a DSLR gives the correct learning curve.
    Would the speed of the S9600 be too slow - ie the lag between taking pictures? My experince has always been that this is frustrating, but I've always focused on the lower end of the market so this may be why.
  4. DaveG40

    DaveG40 Well-Known Member

    Having owned both I am a big fan of both, a bridge camera's focal range is it's greatest asset; flexibility (switching from 28mm to 400+, with excellent macro) and is a dream to work with, then you have the joy of not worrying about dust or buying good quality glass that costs as much & more than the camera itself, bridge camera's produce excellent photo's, are easy to use and becuase of the lens are a lot of fun to use, but they do have their limits (noise & depth of field etc)

    D-slr's are not just about the camera, as many will tell you; you buy into a system and that system grows as you learn and progress, buying better lenses, flashguns etc,etc.

    These days no one makes a bad D-slr & all manufacturers tend to offer a similar spec to their competitors, & although d-slr pricing covers from just under £300 to thousands it's possible to buy 2 cracking d-slrs below £300 (Nikon D40 & The Sony A200)that will better the best bridge camera on nearly all fronts.

    I take a lot of non league football photo's & used to swear by the bridge camera, someone far wiser than I put me right, my d-slr's footy shots are, pardon the pu; in a totally different league.

    If you want to have fun, your budget's tight and you're not worried about depth of field & don't want to shoot in low light I could'nt recommend a bridge camera enough, but if you want to get the best and learn about photography a d-slr's the best way to go, especially at the prices that you can now pick them up at.

    Here's a couple of useful web sites.

    Review sites directory

    An excellent pricing web site

    As well as reviewing and handling cameras in store etc(to gauge the feel/handling) you can do a lot worse than ask other camera owners what they think e.g. I don't have a Canon but received some very helpful information from a 40D/1D MK3 owner.

    The most important thing is that regardless of what camera you go for, is that it feels right for you.

    Good luck.
  5. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    Personally I'd go for a DSLR. It should be less restrictive when it comes to learning what various buttons and dials on a camera do.

    Also, a DSLR will likiely allow you to take pictures as fast as you can press the shutter. Expensive DSLRs can shoot faster bursts and for longer than low end ones generally but I think you'll find any recent DSLR a huge step up from a compact and far less frustrating when you want a numebr of shots in a hurry.

    The only reason I'd get a compact is if I wanted to carry it around in a pocket instead of a bag. Bridge cameras are just compacts with big zooms in my eyes...like a compact that doesn't fit in a pocket! Also, does that S9600 have an EVF? I really don't like them, particularly for action shots. Do you really need such a big zoom or would you be happy with a shorter zoom for learning on? Generally speaking the bigger the zoom range the worse the quality - many here enjoy having no zoom and higher quality results.

    You have a compact....keep it and get a DSLR? :)
  6. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    The one big advantage of a bridge over a DSLR is that you can use it to cross rivers.
  7. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    I disagree. I've got dust in the lens of my compact and I can't see how a bridge camera would be any better.

    Or did you mean not worry about dust as you can't get it out once it's in there? ;)
  8. IvorETower

    IvorETower Little Buttercup

    The S9600 does indeed have an EVF, and a tilting LCD screen. I moved from compact to bridge (Canon S3is) only because at the time I could not afford a dSLR. It took just a few weeks before I realised that I really needed a dSLR (I had film SLR's previously. You may feel somewhat restricted initially with a dSLR due to the "small" zoom ratio of the standard lenses but in time, you will buy other lenses to suit your photogrpahy and get much better results than with a compact or bridge. The other thing is flash photography - dSLRs will use TTL metering to give you much better results. The S9600 has an external hotshoe, but you can only use it with a "normal" flashgun and have to judge the exposure yourself if you want excellent results.
  9. Catweasel

    Catweasel Well-Known Member

    If I might add my two'pennorth here. I had a little Kodak P&S then bought a Fuji S9500. I soon realized that,good though the Fuji was,it didn't allow me to expand.Hence I invested in a 450D and haven't looked back.Yes,the initial outlay is a bit more,but DSLR's do much more than take photo's.
  10. philneale99

    philneale99 New Member

    Thanks guys - all very useful. As a rough idea, what would the zoom on a 18-70mm lens with a Sony alpha 200 equate to compared to a compace zoom (ie my current compact has 3 x optical zoom).

    I'm very much swayed in this direction - will do some research based on the information you've given me over the weekend as can't spend too much time at work.
  11. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    At a guess I'd say the 18-70mm will probably be wider at the short end than your compact so you can fit more of a landscape or large room in. At the long end it's probably about the same (or close enough for me anyway!).

    If you divide 70 by 18 you get get 4(ish) - the 18-70 is like a 4x zoom.
  12. john_g

    john_g Well-Known Member

    An 18-70mm zoom has a zoom range of almost 4 to 1 (70/18 to 1) and would cover the same kind of wide to telephoto range as your compact (plus an extra bit at both ends probably). When you asked earlier about a bridge camera with an 18 to 1 zoom range, this is clearly something very different - it will, no doubt, zoom in to distant objects in a way that a dSLR with a standard lens won't. But this is part of the trade-offs between different camera types. And, of course, you can, in the future, buy a telephoto lens for a dSLR if you decide to go down that road.

    Before you buy any camera, you should handle it to see whether it feels right for you. Maybe have a shortlist - the dSLR and the bridge? - and take your present compact along so you can directly compare viewfinders, zoom range, time to focus, time between shots etc.
  13. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Yup, the F31 only has a 36mm equivalent wideangle.
  14. Nod

    Nod Well-Known Member

    As for the zoom range available with a DSLR, there are lenses available from 4.5mm up to 800mm from Sigma. Add a 1.4x converter (that'll still give the DSLR a chance at AF - the Sigma's f/5.6 throughout) and the range is 4.5 - 1120 which is almost a 250x zoom... Pretty sure you'll need a tripod at the long end though.
  15. john_g

    john_g Well-Known Member

    And a bulging wallet to pay for the lenses too!
  16. Rugby_Nut

    Rugby_Nut Well-Known Member


    I can speak with some experience here because I purchased an Olympus bridge camera (SP-560UZ) about 6 months ago for about £220. The Oly bridge is a pretty good all rounder. It has most of the functionality of a dslr in terms of settings and modes and is complete with a very respectable wide angle to zoom range. It also has image stabilisation for shooting at the longer focal lengths which works extremely well and macro modes that are also very effective. I have taken some excellent pics with it. So what are the pitfalls? Mainly for two reasons: it's sensor (the digital equivalent of film) is very small and therefore it is not too good when the light is poor; secondly it is the finished article in the sense that you cannot change the lens or add sophisticated flash systems. So what did I do, I went out a month ago and bought a dslr! The difference: faster shooting, better image quality, exandability, etc. Have I made a mistake buying the bridge camera? Yes, but I will not sell it. It's got its place and will continue to be used. Would I buy a bridge camera after buying a dslr? No, probably not.

    The moral of the story? If you think your going to be serious about photograghy then get a dslr. Afer all, the Sony A200 with its kit lens is only about £50 more than my bridge camera. However, take your time choosing your dslr. Whilst there will not be many to choose from within your budget you will be buying, to a certain extent, into a system. I spent some considerable time trawling through camera reviews before finally deciding on a dslr. Once you've chosen I would recommend seeing if there are any second hand camera's about that fit the bill. If, on the other hand, you think that the camera will be mainly used for holiday pics and such like then a good bridge camera may well be an excellent choice. Once purchased all you need is a small camera bag, some rechargeable AA batteries, and a lens cleaning cloth. And it is after all highly portable.

    And finally......if your still not sure and you can afford it....get a dslr.
  17. philneale99

    philneale99 New Member

    thanks guys - I'm getting a good idea of what I'm after now.

    I've found this deal as Jessops 9I'll look around a bit yet):


    Comes with an 18-70mm and 55-200mm lens.
    Sorry for the ignorance, but what will be the main advantages of both? they both have approx 4 x zoom in the laymans terms, but presumambly in reality the larger one would be able to zoom to a much further distance, where the shorter one will be better on close up shots?

  18. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    Think of it like an 8x zoom that you have to change lenses half way through. You presume right :cool:
  19. DaveG40

    DaveG40 Well-Known Member

    That's a very good deal, I've had a quick look thru the usual web sites etc & could only come close with an A200, kit lens and Sony's 75-300 lens for £380

    Buy a camera

    You'd be able to get a 4gb extreme 3 c/f card from play.com etc for about £18 & if really needed (a personal choice) a Uv filter for peanuts on ebay etc, so for a little extra you'd get a longer lens & IMHO a better memory card for a little extra, it is a good jessops deal though.

    I have the same set up; kit lens & Tamron 55-200 and for a newbie they are an excellent combination to start and to learn with, the Tamron punches above it's weight in terms of value and output, (don't take my word for it look at the reviews), while the capable kit lens has a useful focal range.

    Together both should satisfy your initial needs. Don't forget though that extra kit (lenses etc) means more required baggage space.

    An alternative might be to buy the camera with an 18-200 lens, which would give you bridge camera lens flexibility with only one lens, the downside; d-slr superzooms are a compromise, losing some of the quality / speed of a twin lens set up.
  20. TonyBe

    TonyBe New Member

    I am unsure how to reply to aforementioned post; but, if I have found the correct area, I would have to say 'CRAP'

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