Out of the numerous types of cameras available in the market, the DSLR camera is at the top of the pile in terms of functionality, picture quality and advanced lenses that can be swapped easily. There is a virtual wealth of DSLR cameras that exist, each with their own set of features and characteristics that can cater to any kind of user skill, from basic and amateur to expert and professional. DSLR cameras were popular until the recent past but it has since dropped because of the advent of smaller mirrorless cameras that can do many things a DSLR can do but without the bulk.
Even with the heft that comes with it, you can still be comfortable in carrying a DSLR with the SpiderPro Single Camera System. DSLRs are still a well-liked format by enthusiasts, casuals and professionals for a few important reasons. In this article, we will discuss the main things you need to know about what a DSLR really is, how the mechanism works and what makes it different from simple, point-and-shoot rigs and mirrorless cameras.
What makes a DSLR camera.
DSLR literally means “digital single-lens reflex”. Within the body of the camera, there is a mirror whose purpose is to reflect any light that comes up from the lens into a viewfinder. Before the light goes into the viewfinder, it will be either refracted by a prism (for high-end cameras) or reflected by other mirrors (for low-end cameras and some high-end DSLRs). This mechanism makes it possible for you to see what you are pointing at with the lens of the camera. This is also where the description “reflex” comes from, which refers to the image reflected by the mirrors.
The image capturing process is remarkably simple, for something so obviously high-tech. When the user depresses the button, the shutter opens, the mirror is flipped up and out of the way and the light carrying the image goes straight to the sensor where the image is made into a photograph.
Unlike small point-and-shoot or mirrorless cameras, there is no lag in capturing the image at the other end of the lens. Since the only time the image is processed by the imaging sensor is when it captures it, everything goes at the speed of light. Contrast that with the non-DSLRs where the image is processed by the imaging sensor every step of the way. In order to see the image, the sensor transfers the signal to digital display that is quite separate from the sensor, needing to be processed a few more times which creates a delay from having the image on the viewfinder and capturing it.
However, one of the biggest drawbacks to DSLRs is the inability of the rig to create a preview of the exposure and other settings before taking the photo. Since mirrorless cameras process the image entirely with its imaging sensor, then you can try out combinations of settings in order to get the best possible shot before actually taking it. And this is why mirrorless cameras are referred to like that, because they don’t have the mirror that reflects the image meant for the sensor into the viewfinder.
The fact that DSLRs have excellent battery life is almost always underrated. Their batteries stay operational for longer because the viewfinder is optical and uses little to no power. DSLR models that beginners use, such as some of the cameras in the Canon EOS Series, can capture 600 photos without depleting its battery. DSLRs for professionals usually have batteries that last for more than 1,000 photos. The Nikon D850 is one of these models. You can also check out a video about the difference between the two.
Full-frame or crop, take your pick.
For DSLRs, its sensor is a topic of many confusing debates. However, the fact remains that the sensor’s physical size and not how many megapixels the resulting image has is what gives these cameras its distinct advantage in the quality of the images it captures. The small sensors that phones and point-and-shoots have are no match for the sheer power of the large sensors that DSLRs sport. And these come in two main kinds. DSLR camera companies offer full-frame and crop-frame (or APS-C) sensors.
Let’s try to dig a little deeper into this. The term full-frame is referring to the size of a full, standard 35mm film frame. In a full-frame camera, the sensor that comes with it is about the same size as this standard frame. Crop-frame sensors are about half this size, and this is what creates what they call in the business as a crop factor. Crop factors are a bit complicated and we will not discuss it here in depth but the thing about it is if a sensor has a crop factor of 1.5x, it will have an equal field of view as a lens of 75mm on full-frame camera even if the lens on the crop-frame is only 50mm.
The optics are also quite complex and we will not discuss it in full here. Suffice to say, the additional “zoom” that crop-frame sensors provide is great for a little bit of extra range with your telephoto lens. The drawback is that the photos are not as wide when shot with a wide-angle lens. However, this can be remedied by using a wide-angle lens specifically made for APS-C sensors.
This can get confusing when it comes time to customize unless you are a professional photographer. Most companies manufacture lenses for both sensor types. And although you are allowed to have full-frame lenses on crop-frame cases, having it the opposite way is typically not recommended. There are two reasons why. The first is because in some brands, it is physically impossible to do so. The second is when it is physically permitted by the camera brand, a crop-frame lens on a full-frame body won’t allow you to use the entire area of the sensor. This means that the image will be cropped on the viewfinder and on the photo itself.
Bigger is always better.
The smallest DSLR camera is so much larger compared to the biggest mirrorless cameras, and sports much larger sensors. This means that due to the bigger sensors, DSLR cameras always produces better images. The bigger sensors also make it possible to let in more light so you will have clearer, crisper photos even in low light situations like in dimly lit restaurants.
There is one other area that DSLRs beat out the best mirrorless and phone cameras and that is autofocus. The autofocus on DSLRs is much faster and performs better, perfect for capturing fast moving objects without any blurring.
Swapping your lenses.
Switching lenses in between different photo ops is a luxury that only DSLR owners can experience. Not even the best point-and-shoots can change lenses. You can also attach additional lenses that simulate telephoto or wide-angle effects but these aren’t the same as the real big boys a DSLR has. These aren’t the only lenses available for DSLR cameras. Just keep in mind to keep the lenses clean and dust free with the Spider Lens Wipes. Aside from telephoto and wide-angle lenses that capture far objects and wide shots perfectly, there are also portrait lenses with large apertures to help create that beautiful background blurring effect.
This isn’t something that can be created just by a built-in lens. These interchangeable lenses are manufactured by DSLR companies and are great fits for the cameras the company builds. They come with their own mounting systems as well. If you get your lenses from a third-party manufacturer, they may come with different types of mounts to accommodate the needs of each professional photographer. Again, you can mount lenses on mirrorless cameras as well. However, they haven’t been around as long as DSLRs so there is still quite a big difference in the types of lenses available for mirrorless.
A slew of accessories.
Being around for so long, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of attachments and accessories made especially for DSLR cameras. There is this little thing called the hot shoe which is used for external flashes. It is, in essence, an electrified mount placed on top of the camera where flashes are attached. You can even attach wireless triggers and microphones to it for recording audio.
On top of that, DSLR cameras have ports aplenty for attaching a variety of accessories such as trigger systems, external monitors, adaptors, GPS systems or wired flashes. There are also amazing carrying systems like the SpiderPro Single Camera System from Spider Holster that you can use to secure your DSLR comfortably at your side instead of inside a bag where you have to waste time looking for it. You can reduce the burden by not having the DSLR on a strap around your neck or shoulder.
Thanks to all these readily available and innovative accessories, you can customize your DSLR camera setup however you like.
Does a DSLR fit your photography needs?
We have given you a great deal of information which can help make your decision a whole lot easier but it is really all up to you. What DSLRs can still offer are a huge selection on lenses, guaranteed performance in almost any situation, and that exceptional image quality that few can match. Even if they are heavy and a bit bulky, you can still remedy that with Spider Holster products, the choice carrying system for DSLRs. The systems are ergonomic and allow you to keep your cameras at the ready all the time. Visit Spider Holster right now to learn more.