Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras:  The DSLR Difference

Digital vs. DSRL
Digital cameras have revolutionized the way people capture moments. Digital cameras have made taking pictures for a website or a memorable vacation not only easy, but practical as well. The consumer market contains hundreds of choices of digital cameras. Yet many people do not know the difference between these cameras, or are misled by advertising.

While there are still many different types of digital cameras on the market, the two types of cameras generally available to the average consumer are the Digital Camera and the DSLR Camera. Many people see the size and price of a DSLR Camera and assume that it is a “Professional-Only” camera, but this is not true. While there are DSLR Cameras on the market that can cost upwards of $2,000, these are the high-end models that far exceed what the average person would require. There are several DSLR models that are reasonably priced, with some models priced under $300.
The biggest difference between the average digital camera and the DSLR is probably the most important factor to people when looking for a camera. Although there are some fairly high-end quality digital cameras available, most of these can barely compete with the quality and capability of the low-end DSLR Cameras.

Interchangeable Lenses and Optical Zoom
Probably one of the greatest advantages to the DSLR Camera is the ability to switch out the lenses. All DSLR Cameras have the ability to change what type, size, or length being used base on the user’s preference. The advantage of this is easily lost under the assessment that each of these lenses will typically have to be purchased in addition to the DSRL, but should always be an emphasized point about DSLR cameras.

On a typical digital camera when you zoom in for a closer picture, the camera uses “digital zoom”. What this means is that the camera is not actually zooming in, but in fact taking the same unzoomed picture and enlarging that single area by blowing up the pixels. In short, this means that the more you zoom in on a typical digital camera, the worse the picture quality. This is the reason why the interchangeable DSRL lenses are so prominent, because the DSLR uses what’s called optical zoom.

Optical zoom is the exact opposite of “digital zoom.” Optical zoom occurs by moving the lenses inside the attached DSLR lens either closer or further apart. This bends the incoming light to create enlarged images. Put simply, this means that ever single picture you take will maintain the same quality regardless of zoom. Also, because the DSLR Cameras lenses bend light in order to create an image, this makes it possible to achieve a wide variety of special effects without hours of computer editing.

Although many typical digital cameras have a few options to customize exactly how the camera takes a picture, these cameras are relatively “Point and Click.” This is where any DSLR camera far exceeds the capabilities of the typical digital camera. The DSLR does come with various automatic modes that many people are familiar with, but allows absolute control with three manual modes. These manual modes offer the user to adjust a variety of settings.

The three main adjustments for a DSLR camera are the Shutter Speed, Aperture, and ISO. Aperture refers to the size of the opening in the lens that light can pass through. This is usually read as an F-Stop or F-Number (i.e. F6, F5.6, F8). Shutter Speed is the length of the exposure, and is typically read as a fraction of a second (i.e. a shutter speed of 200 is actually 1/200 of a second). ISO on a DSLR Camera is similar to ISO of film cameras, in that it refers to the picture’s sensitivity to light.

While knowing how to best utilize these settings is not required to use a DSLR camera, understanding these settings, and the extensive list of additional customizable settings, allows the user to capture exactly what they want in whatever way they want.

The Bottom Line
Aside from the ability to change lenses and settings, the DSLR Camera has many other abilities that the typical digital camera does not. With the ability to add additional aspects to the camera body, such as a larger external flash, a remote switch, and many other accessories the DSLR is in fact an extraordinary and versatile camera. As technology progresses these cameras are becoming less expensive and more usable even in the most inexperienced hands.