Slow in pretty much every way.
First the time from when you turn the camera on to the time it is ready is about 5-7 seconds. This might not sound like a big deal but when you are driving and there isn't a good (safe) place to stop. In most cases you are long past the subject.
You can not just leave the camera turned on. It will turn itself off to conserve the battery and if you keep giving it prompts the battery will run down.
Of course my film cameras can be left turned on for weeks without running the batteries down.
Shutter lag is terrible I am so used to instant shutter release that it drives me nuts.
The shutter speeds are way to slow even though it claims to be 1000 with ISO 400 it doesn’t even come close to actually doing this.
Most of my photography is done “on the move” and it is a rare luxury to be able to stop and pose anything.
Again I am used to using a film camera with a fairly fast lens and getting a true 1-2000.
The low light capacities of digitals again are terrible. Although mine has a night shot that dosen't require any light at all beyond its infra red.
The size and weight of this camera is about the same as my 35mm with a 150 lens.
Back when I bought this Sony Cyber-shot 5.3 mp it cost $895 and with the minimum required extras the final price was $1100. At that time any true SLR was $15-20,000.
They are much cheaper today but I will point out one incident that took place about a year ago.
A friend of mine owns a company that makes Sand Cars. He wanted a model shoot to do a calendar. Typical scanty bikinis with cars setup in full sun and posed. But it was to be a “running” shoot. By that I mean that I wanted the 5 girls to be in and out in different suits and moving fast from pose to pose to music.
He had another friend there with a brand new top of the line Nikon digital SLR which he told me set him back close to $20,000 with all of the lenses.
I shot 10 rolls of 35mm (360 frames) and 10 rolls of 120 (120 frames). The Nikon shot 1500 frames. Of my 360 35mm 300 were sharp and clean and there were 70 good shots and 20 great shots. Of the 120, which were much more posed, all were technically good and 50 were great. Almost any photographer will tell you that my results would be considered excellent for the numbers.
The guy with the Nikon had less than 100 that were technically ok and 2 that were “useable”.
His biggest problem was shutter lag. But just as many were blurry due to shutter speeds that were too slow.
Of course Much of this is due to the photographer I studied photography for years completing college classes from basic B+W to commercial large format up to 8x10 (that’s the negative size not the print size) And I had done many shoots similar to this so I knew what to expect when the big fans were on and the hair was flying.
I never looked at his camera to see it’s features I suspect his biggest problem was operator error.
I just now looked at some of the SLR digitals and they were around $8-1100 (body only) they were Cannon and Nikon. On my budget as a retired person even $700 is a lot of money. I didn’t price the lenses since I can’t afford the body but I am sure they are expensive just as they were when I bought my film cameras, probably more so.
Same deal here. My first owned digital was an Olympus C2020, bought for $899, with about $250 worth of accessories. It did what I wanted it to do--shoot black and whites for tool manuals--but with a lot of manipulation (flash was useless, no off-camera flash, so I still own a set of hot lights I almost never use). The sharpness of the lens and the immediacy of the results were essential, though.
Yes, my K10D turns itself off after an interval, which I can set. But it "sleeps" it doesn't die. I can pick it up and brush the shutter button. By the time it reaches my eye, it is ready to go.
Your pal with the Nikon shouldn't be on auto, either, which is what messes up the shutter speeds. Set the shutter speed and adjust the aperture in the situation you describe.
There is no measurable shutter lag in the DSLRs. Rephrase that: it takes very, very precise measuring equipment to determine that lag, because it's in the very low milliseconds, just as it is in any SLR.
I am dead sure it was operator error. The guy didn't read the manual, as in RTFM, ol' buddy!
You make a lot of generalizations from a bad experience with an inexpert shooter. Digital cameras' low light capabilities vary, with point and shoot being the worst. Some DSLRs are good, some aren't, but that mostly has to do with the focus, not the ability to take shots. Canon is about the best right now, but the cameras cost $3,000 to $8,000.
I use a Pentax K10D ($700 new last year) to shoot auto and motorcycle races. It is significantly slower focusing than other DSLRs in a higher price bracket, but I've been doing his for a long time, so as long as I pay attention, I'm getting a ratio of about 2 keepers to 5 shots. Given speeds often in excess of 100MPH, I figure that's just fine.
And now, my Wild Blue satellite system is giving me Error: Host Not Available messages. According to them inteference of almost any kind, or down time time of any kind, is caused by an Act of God, for which they're not responsible. But for $99 they'll send someone out to reverse the effect of a light morning dew.