Photography - Gear/Equipment

SLR vs DSLR: How to Choose the Best Camera

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Isn’t it fascinating to be able to capture precious moments in your camera forever? These days, a lot of options are available with cameras that allow you to choose the model and the type that works best for you. While this wide variety is good for the enthusiast, it also tends to confuse many people, especially those who are just beginning to explore their passion for photography. One such confusion is SLR vs DSLR camera, and we often find people wondering which is better, SLR or DSLR.

If you are one of those people who are not clear about the differences between these two types of cameras, this article is just for you. We will try to clarify the key features of DSLR, DSC and Mirrorless cameras so that it becomes easier for you to decide the best camera for your requirements. Let us start, right away, with the features of the different types of cameras that are available in the market.

Basics of SLR and DSLR

Let us first start with the basics, and know the full form of SLR and DSLR. SLR is the short form for Single Lens Reflex camera. The peculiarity of an SLR camera is that the mirror of the camera bends the light path to the viewfinder. This mechanism is a stark contrast to the previously used cameras where there were two paths for the light from the target. In older cameras, the light from the target reached the lens through one path and to the viewfinder by another path. This resulted in the picture quality being different from what the photographer saw in the viewfinder. SLRs have overcome this problem and have led to very high-quality photographs.

The DSLR camera is a Digital SLR. This simply means that it is an SLR camera that saves the photographs as digital files on a memory card instead of a film. DSLR cameras have produced much higher picture quality and are in general, more advanced than SLR cameras. The key features of the SLR vs DSLR debate are discussed below.

slr vs dslr
SLR camera uses films whereas DSLR uses memory card (source)

SLR vs DSLR: Main Differences Explained

Although the basic mechanism remains the same in SRL and DSLR, the finer technical differences account for a different picture quality. Let us have a look at the key differences between SLR and DSLR cameras.

1. Difference in Storage

Obviously, major differences will exist between image storage on films and on memory cards. While an SLR camera will not be able to save more than 36 pictures on one film, a DSLR camera can save hundreds or even thousands on a memory card, depending on its capacity. Massive storage is a definite advantage for DSLR in the SLR vs DSLR contest.

2. Difference in Shutter Speed

Most photography enthusiasts would know the importance of shutter speed for good picture quality. A lower shutter speed results in sharper pictures. SLR cameras have shutter speeds varying between 1 second to 1/1000th of a second. While this itself seems to be a very small number, you will be amazed to know that the shutter speed of DSLR ranges from 1/4000th to 1/8000th of a second. Obviously, this big difference in shutter speeds of SLR vs DSLR manifests as a difference in picture quality.

3. Differences in Features

The superior features of DSLR cameras in the game of SLR vs DSLR keep them ahead. They are ideal for photographers because they allow the deletion of pictures from the memory cards, a feature which is not present in SLR cameras. But, at the same time, they tend to be more expensive than SLR cameras, with the SLR and DSLR price difference being a big number. 

Other Camera Options for Shutterbugs

While we are still discussing the contest of SLR vs DSLR, it is worthwhile to briefly discuss a few other kinds of cameras that are available in the market. These are the digital camera and mirrorless camera. Let us have a look at these players in the SLR vs DSLR game and see how much impact they have in being picked up by a hobbyist.

  • Digital Cameras

Digital cameras comprise of cameras that allow the user to save photographs as a digital file on a memory card. Common examples are the DSC (Digital Still Cameras), also known as point and shoot cameras. The difference between DSLR and digital cameras is that digital cameras lack the complex mechanism of mirror reflex that SLR and DSLR cameras have. 

Consequently, these are much more compact in size and very travel-friendly. They usually cost a fraction of SLR and DSLR cameras. But they lose out on picture quality when compared to SLRs and DSLRs. This basic difference between DSC and DSLR cameras is responsible for the huge price difference among the two.

DSLR vs point and shoot comparison will require a balancing of picture quality and pricing. Canon digital cameras are a leader in this field, but Nikon, Fujifilm and Olympus are all catching up pretty fast.

  • Mirrorless Cameras

Also known as CSCs (Compact System Cameras), mirrorless cameras lack the mirror. The difference between DSLR and mirrorless cameras is that the latter does not have the optical viewfinder. They do have a digital viewfinder, and this feature gives the preview of the image exactly as it will be captured by the camera. These cameras are lighter and more compact than SLR and DSLR cameras, but they have to be supplemented with lenses for better picture quality.

dslr vs point and shoot
DSLR vs CDC (source)

Why SLR and DSLR Rule the Photography Industry

Now that you have a fair idea about the basics of the different types of cameras available in the market, it should be easier for you to choose your next model. We have summed up the advantages of SLR and DSLR cameras over regular cameras so that you can go ahead with your next purchase.

1. Picture Quality

If you wish to take up professional photography or are passionate about the depth-of-field in your pictures, then SLRs and DSLRs win hands-down. The supreme picture quality of these cameras cannot be achieved by any other options. For regular use, however, any of the other options will work just as fine. 

dslr vs point and shoot picture quality
Clear difference of picture quality (source)

2. Adaptability and Improvisation

SLRs and DSLRs have an enormous number of accessories, lenses, and filters to give you the freedom to experiment with photography. This flexibility is limited in case of other cameras.

3. More Control

SLRs and DSLRs give you total control over settings. You can choose the shutter speed and aperture, for example, to a much higher degree. This aspect is lacking in regular cameras where you have to rely on a fixed group of settings. 

4. Special Features

Regular cameras would most likely not give you a good picture in dark conditions. Also, they have limited scope for capturing wide-angle shots. Similarly, they will fail when you want to do action photography. All these can be easily done using SLRs and DSLRs

Wrapping Up

The outcome of SLR vs DSLR contest will be dictated by how extensively the photographer wishes to use the camera and how much money can be spent on the purchase. However, one thing that is clear is that for people who do not wish to compromise on picture quality and love clicking plenty of shots then DSLR camera is just for you. We hope we cleared your air of doubts and made it pretty easy on which camera to pick between SLR vs DSLR battle. 

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