I remember showing my dad the Nikon for the first time on Christmas, and he was of course impressed.  But then he wanted to know what the difference was between a dSLR and other cameras.  Excellent question.  My response was something along the lines of “um, it’s better?”

I promise, I am a better conversationalist than that.  Had I been equipped in reading the first chapter of my dSLR for dummies book, I could’ve talked his ear off – and how excited I’m sure he would have been!  Either way, here’s what I now can elaborate on why “it’s better” –

The optical viewfinder on dSLRs represents almost exactly what you see in the final picture.  I never even noticed, but this isn’t the case for a point and shoot camera.  The dSLR viewfinder also shows approximately what’s in sharp focus, and what isn’t (aka depth of field).

2)  Censored %#*$!  (Powerful Sensor)
dSLR sensors are much bigger than a point and shoot.  But what does that mean?  I like the way the book described it – think of the sensor as a rectangular bucket, and light falling on it as drizzles of rain.  The large buckets (sensors) can collect more drops (photons – particles of light) more quickly than the small ones.  Because a certain minimum number of photons is required to register a picture, a large sensor can collect the required amount more quickly, making it more sensitive than a smaller sensor under the same conditions.  This added sensitivity allows you to shoot photos in dim light, take action pictures, and stretch the amount of depth-in-field available.

Sensitivity to light is measured by ISO (Internal Organization for Standardization).  Most point & shoots have a range of ISO 50 – ISO 100.  dSLRs commonly have usable ISO settings of up to at least ISO 1600 (and goes all the way up to 25,600)

3)  Lens Lust
According to the book, lens lust is a strange malady that strikes all owners of dSLRs sooner or later.  I’m happy to report I am not there  yet.  But it is nice to know that I one day will have the freedom to switch lenses to get a variety of results from my photographs.