A Blog

You Probably Shouldn't Buy a DSLR

September 04, 2013

I have three digital SLR cameras1, and a bunch of nice lenses to go with them. I’ve been an amateur photographer, and have taken tens of thousands (if not more) photos of weddings, portraits, and landscapes over the years. I love my photography gear, and even though I don’t use it quite as much as I used to, I’m not going to be changing it any time soon.

But, with a few exceptions, I don’t think anyone should buy a DSLR anymore.

DSLRs are big. Like, Orca big. Newer models have been hitting the Slim-Fast, but you are never going to be able to fit one in a pocket or purse any time soon. This means you will need a dedicated bag or backpack, which means you won’t be taking it with you, ever. Part of the reason smartphones have replaced point & shoots is that you always have it with you.

DSLRs are like gym memberships. People pay lots of money for them, use them for about a month, and then never again.

Instead, if you really want to drop several hundred dollars on a camera, get a small mirrorless. They’re a little bit cheaper, will give you the same quality, and are much smaller. If I were starting over today, I’d get one. Even some pros are using them for day to day work..

The Sony NEX-F3
The Sony NEX-F2

Here are some models to check out:

All of these are small and light. All of them will take great photos. And, you might actually take it with you.


Here are the two people who should probably stick with DSLRs: the Student and the Professional.

By Student I mean someone who wants to learn photography. Someone who wants to know what f-stops are, how they interact with shutter speeds and ISO. If you just want to take pictures of your kids or pets, then go with one of the mirror-less ones.

And, by Professional, I mean someone who wants to make money with their camera. For a bunch of reasons not worth getting into, an SLR is probably the right choice for them. Professional doesn’t have to be full-time either (I’m certainly not).

1. All Nikon: a D50 (my first), a D200 (my backup), and a D300 (the moneymaker).

Scott Williams

Written by Scott Williams who lives and works in sunny Phoenix, AZ. Twitter is also a place.