I taught my third DSLR workshop over the weekend. I've come to a point where I can teach pretty much without my notes - the slides: all pictures, are enough of a reminder of what I want to say. I used to wonder how university professors taught without notes, when I needed so many note cards and practice runs to do a presentation. Well, being extremely familiar with a topic and having taught it enough times to figure out how to organize and explain the info - I understand!
Anyways, I've recently encountered more than a few friends who are having the agonizing internal debate: Should I buy a DSLR camera? Even the intro level DSLRs are quite an investment, causing much hemming and hawing. I thought I'd put together a list of things to consider to help with the decision process.
1. Seeing meh quality point and shoot camera pictures makes you kind of gag a little. (Or conversely, seeing nice pics taken by dslrs makes you think: oooh!) This means that you have some discerning taste concerning photo aesthetics. Some people aren't picky, and are happy with mediocre pics. A DSLR produces much better quality pics, provided you know how to use it. Ok, even on auto mode you'll get better quality pics than most point and shoots.
2. The techie/ geek in you is not intimidated, but rather intrigued, by this bit of machinery with lots of buttons and numbers. If you feel empowered by understanding and mastering digital equipment and like to tinker around with electronic stuff - a DSLR will bring much more satisfaction than a point and shoot. However, if having a big camera will make you take pics less often because all those buttons and numbers are scary - maybe DSLR is not for you. Having a DSLR should encourage More photo-taking.
3. Fancy having artistic control? Maybe there's a bit of artist in you looking for an outlet. Photography is a relatively easy medium to allow tappage into that artistic well. The options on a DSLR (lenses, settings, etc) allows for far deeper tapping than a point and shoot.
4. DSLR ENVY: Inexplicable strong desire for DSLR camera kicks in when you see someone else wit a DSLR camera. There's no rational reason, you just want to have one, and obsessively picture yourself with such weighty equipment hanging from your neck. Nothing else can fill that void in your life. This is rarely the sole reason, but counts as a reason.
All these things apply to me, which is why I thought of them. I do still use a point in shoot for the following instances: (1) traveling in poor neighborhood where it is tacky to pull out a $$ DSLR, (2) spontaneous candid pics where quality doesn't matter so much as atmosphere, e.g. documenting dog making faces due to biscuit stuck in cheek flap.
There are some cameras that are some place between point and shoot and dslr, but I don't know anything about them. There might be a happy medium.