That’s a valid question. Considering the price investment for a DSLR is much greater than a point-and-shoot, purchasing something you don’t really need may set you back by a few hundred or even a thousand dollars.
So let’s see what made us DSLR users made the big shift rather than stick with the old trusted point-and-shoot:
Depth of Field
With a point-and-shoot, the depth of field is wide — as such it’s very difficult to blur the background. Producing images that pop out, having the main subject clearly focused and the background blurred, can only be achieved by a shallow depth of field that DSLRs provide. This advantage is achieved by having a wide aperture, at least f4 and lower using telephoto (50mm or higher with a DX-format DSLR).
Focus and Shutter Speed
Shooting sports or action shots can be frustrating with a point-and-shoot due to the delay in both the focus and the shutter. Oftentimes the peak of the action has already passed before the image is captured. Also with the DSLR, you have a wider choice of range for the shutter speed.
Capturing low-light or night scenes is much easier using a DSLR. Not only do you have a wider shutter speed selection, you also have the option to set it on “B”or Bulb setting. This setting keeps the shutter open for as long as your finger is continuously depressing the shutter button. You also have a selection of fast lenses and a wide range of ISO settings. Even in the high ISO range, noise is still tolerable or within range compared to a point-and-shoot.
With the DSLR, you have more flexibility in the use of the camera controls. Setting it on Manual allows you to control the image being recorded by the camera. This also allows more artistic interpretation of the subject. Like shooting a waterfall, you can adjust the shutter such that the water turns into a hazy fuzz.
Have you reached a point where you want to make an enlargement of the image you took? If prints are made, the biggest would be album-sized prints (10 x 15 cm). Otherwise the image will be grainy when enlarged due to the small size of the point-and-shoot sensor. But with the DSLR, you can enlarge it while still retaining the details. The bigger the sensor (FX format), the bigger the enlargement that is possible. Also, the image can be shot using RAW format. This gives you a bigger leeway and more complete info when post-processing the image.
With the DSLR, you have a wider choice of lenses available. This allows you to adapt your camera to your subject. It can be a landscape, a portrait, a sports event or even a nightscape. Unlike in a point-and-shoot, you are stuck with the lens that comes with the camera. A DSLR also allows you the option to attach an external flash, a filter or other accessories.
Type of Photography
Lastly, as you grow in your photography, you would normally go beyond just shooting friends and family or recording yourself. As you specialize in your skill, say macro photography or weddings, you will find that the point-and-shoot camera is too limiting. If you want to further develop your artistic capability or explore the craft, then a DSLR allows you to go into that inevitable next level.