TECH REVIEW: DSLR vs. Point-and-Shoot vs. Your Smartphone

In a recent research survey, 66% of respondents attributed their campaign success with great production quality. The second most cited factor for campaign success? Compelling images. These responses paint a very clear picture: the quality of your content matters. And if you want to create engaging, high quality content, it all starts with the equipment you use.

Breaking IT DOWN

DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex. Without getting too technical, a DSLR has a shutter and a point-and-shoot camera does not. A smartphone’s camera works similarly to a point-and-shoot camera. However, there is a long list of software and hardware innovations that are blurring the lines between smartphone quality images and those taken with a P&S or DSLR.

DSLR: Pros and Cons

DSLR cameras provide more speed (the rate at which the shutter opens and closes and snaps a photo), power, and overall features than both smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras.


  • Image quality: DSLRs beat P&S cameras and smartphones in terms of image quality hands down. Why? The DSLR’s massive image sensors can capture far more than a P&S or smartphone.
  • Camera ISO: A DSLR has a large ISO range. This means it delivers clearer images in a wide array of shooting conditions, such as bright city sidewalks and dark forests, without photos looking washed out or grainy.
  • Depth of field: Have you noticed how influencers often post images that make themselves or the product they’re shooting the focal point, while the rest of the  photo is defocused? This is known as “depth of field” and it is one of the telltale signs that someone is using high-end equipment.


  • Price: The features that gives a DSLR an advantage over other equipment, from larger lenses to the enhanced image sensors, are what drive up the cost of the camera. DSLRs are definitely more expensive than a P&S camera or smartphone.
  • Size: DSLRs are big. While they’re perfect for a short trek around the city for a fashion shoot or a restaurant outing, travel influencers or anyone who needs to carry their camera for long periods of time may way to rethink shooting with a bulky DSLR.
  • Maintenance and complexity: Most DSLRs aren’t ready to be used right out of the box. You need to modify settings, buy memory cards, etc. A DSLR also requires more maintenance, such as cleaning the lens to ensure images maintain their crisp quality. When was the last time you had to do all that for your smartphone?

Point-and-Shoot: Pros and Cons

A point-and-shoot cameras, or a “fixed lens camera,” is essentially the middle man between a DSLR and a smartphone.


  • Size and weight: Unlike a DSLR, you can grab your P&S, toss it in your backpack, and hit the hiking trails. It’s more ideal for the travel influencer or adventurer.
  • Price: A P&S is significantly cheaper than a DSLR, and sometimes even cheaper than a smartphone. If you’re on a tight budget, definitely consider a P&S camera.
  • Ease of use: Unlike a DSLR that requires a lot of manual settings and adjustments, a P&S is ready to go out of the box. All P&S models have an auto mode for different types of photos, such as action shots or nighttime shots, so you can start snapping images right away.


  • Image quality: Compared to a DSLR, the image quality is often a lot lower on a P&S. The ISO range will be a lot smaller, so you’ll notice a bigger difference in extreme light settings.
  • Speed: A P&S is a lot slower in terms of capturing an image and processing it. This can be a big deal if you are looking to snag any action shots, like wildlife or sports.
  • Limited controls: While auto modes have their perks, most P&S models don’t let you tinker much beyond that. If your social media brand has a distinct look that you need to accomplish, you’ll likely find yourself spending more time in post-production with a P&S.

The Elephant in the Room: Smartphones

Now that you know both the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between DSLRs and P&S cameras, it begs the question: can you get away with just using your smartphone? After all, you almost always have it on you, so why bother with bringing a dedicated camera?

Point-and-shoot camera sales are steadily collapsing, according to industry reports. Pundits, like Photography Life magazine, attribute this to the growing surge in high-quality smartphone cameras. But smartphones still can’t quite touch the depth of field, ISO range, and general quality os a DSLR.

That being said, while many smartphones still lack high-quality cameras, devices like the iPhone X and Samsung’s flagship devices are including features that are threatening, but not replacing, DSLRs. These features include:

  • Dual lenses for better depth and focus
  • Faster processing for improved speed and ability to capture movement
  • Wider apertures for a wider ISO range
  • Improved file support, such as RAW image capture, that gives you more flexibility in post-processing and editing

With these advanced features, it’s no wonder that Apple’s iPhone is the #1 most commonly used camera on Flickr, even ahead of DSLRs.

So what’s the verdict?

If you want portability and high quality, look for a smartphone that includes advances sensors, lenses and features that come close to (but can’t touch) a DSLRs. And if you want to deliver the highest quality to your audience and brand partners, you may want to consider shelling out the extra cash for a DSLR.

Ready to get #paid by brands like Toyota, Canon, and H&M? Join #ThePaidCrew community and start partnering with world-class brands like these today.



By day, Josh Duvauchelle is the co-founder of Frey Union, a marketing firm in Vancouver, BC. By night, he’s a health and wellness coach featured in Teen Vogue, Men’s Journal, Shape, Men’s Fitness, and more. Find him on Instagram under @joshduv.  Josh is a member of #ThePaidCrew editorial team.

Feature photo by Kaique Rocha from Pexels