A point-and-shoot digital camera estimates the light that will reach the sensor on an LCD screen.
A SLR camera is a single lens reflex camera. As an SLR camera has a reflex mirror, it allows you to see through the viewfinder the real image that the film will see. It works a little like a periscope, and when the shutter button is clicked, the mirror is quickly moved out of the way, so the image is directed at the exposed film.
Point-and-shoot digital cameras have small image sensors, and so lower image quality. However, if not planning major enlargements for the images, this can be more than good enough for most users.
SLRs have larger image sensors, and so larger pixel sizes, leading to less grainy images.
Point-and-shoot digital cameras are slower than SLR cameras and have “shutter lag.”
SLR cameras have a fast shutter speed.
Many point-and-shoot digital cameras do not have optical viewfinders. Instead, they rely on their LCD screens for picture framing.
SLR cameras use an optical viewfinder.
Point-and-shoot digital cameras are usually easy for beginners to use.
SLR cameras come with many settings and features and have a steep learning curve. However, they also come with a fully automatic mode for beginners.
SLRs are generally more expensive than point-and-shoot digital cameras. Current prices of some of the cameras are available on Amazon.com: