By Frank Ling
We’ve all seen DSLR cameras advertised on television shopping networks and commercials that promise superior images and ease of use. But there are so many brands and models out there; it can get pretty confusing for anyone who is looking for a camera that suits their needs.
We’ll take a look at DSLRs and other cameras and hopefully bring this subject into better focus.
What’s a DSLR?
Before the “D” was placed before “SLR,” the letters stood for a certain style of camera called the single lens reflex. These cameras were noted for their interchangeable lenses, the ability to see what you were photographing through the camera’s lens, and the ability for the user to have total control over exposure, focus, shutter speed, and other parameters.
Today’s DSLRs or digital single lens reflex cameras do everything the old school models did and a lot more; they provide digital effects, auto focus, intelligent scene recognition, are able to shoot video, and host a dizzying array of customizable features.
DSLRs save all their images on small memory cards as opposed to old school film cameras. With DSLRs, developing photos are as easy as using a color printer. For maximum quality, some people choose to have their digital images processed by a photo service.
DSLRs vs. point-and-shoot camera
Virtually all of us have used point-and-shoot cameras. These devices have permanently attached lenses on them and can take photos without a lot of fuss or hassle. These cameras automatically adjust for flash, focus, and exposure, so all you have to do is to point-and-shoot.
Point-and-shoot cameras range in price from $50 to well over $1,000 for top of the line models.
DSLRs can give any photographer more flexibility and control over the images they shoot by allowing them to easily swap out one lens for another. These include different types of telephoto lens, wide angle lenses, and special effects lenses. DSLRs provide superior images and work very well in low-light situations.
For quick snapshots, point-and-shoot cameras are the way to go. But for anyone who wants to step up their game in improving their photographic skills, a DSLR may be the right choice.
DSLRs are usually sold with the camera body and one “normal” or 55mm lens. Prices usually start around the $500 mark. Some DSLRs are sold with lens kits that include a 55mm lens along with a telephoto zoom lens. These kits start at around $600.
Some of the top manufacturers for DSLRs are Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Panasonic, and Sony.
In the last few years camera manufacturers have produced devices that look just like DSLRs but are actually fancy point-and-shoot cameras. These are called “bridge” cameras in the industry because they fill the gap between simple consumer cameras and professional grade DSLRs.
Bridge cameras have similarities with DSLRs because of their ability to provide special effects and other features often associated with DSLRs. To view the image properly, many bridge cameras use the LCD screen on the back. Looking through the viewfinder presents an electronic image seen via a small LCD display.
Generally speaking the more megapixels you have in your DSLR, the better the image. But this also relies heavily on how good the image sensor is in the camera. Most photographers will never print any photos larger than 16” x 20” with the majority of them staying with the standard 8”x10” format.
In most cases, it’s a safe bet to say that any DSLR camera with at least 12 megapixels is quite sufficient for good photographic images.
Cheaper and better
When the first commercial DSLR was sold by Kodak in 1991, the DCS 100 sold for $13,000 and only had a resolution of 1.3 megapixels. In comparison, most mobile phones today have at least 4 megapixels.
DSLRs are a wonderful addition to photography and for those who want to improve and expand their photographic horizons, there’s bound to be a DSLR model that will be just right for them.
Frank Ling is the SF Gadgets Examiner. He is a writer, professional photographer, video producer, and video editor. One of his favorite jobs was working at a large video game publisher.