What Is A DSLR Camera? The Pros And Cons Explained!

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What is a dslr camera?

There is no denying that being a photographer is a lot of fun. Especially when you get to take the pictures that you like and play with the type of gear that you like to play with.

However, over the past couple of years, cameras have seen a lot of shifts happening in the industry, and we have gone from DSLR cameras to mirrorless cameras.

Soon, mirrorless cameras are going to take over the market, but a lot of people are still adhering to DSLR cameras and for all the right reasons.

If you are wondering what is a DSLR camera, then you are at the right spot because the purpose of this article is to dissect every angle, so it is better that is we are focusing on this camera.

Don’t worry, though. Despite all the technicalities, I am still going to keep the article easy for the newcomers to understand so there are no confusions that might come in the way.

What Is A DSLR Camera?

DSLR cameras are also known as digital single-lens reflex cameras or digital SLR cameras, and they have been around for as long as 1988; and even though the technology has seen many improvements, a lot of the principles surrounding these cameras are the same.

DSLR cameras use a combination of the optics and mechanisms that are found in the single-lens reflex cameras, but this time around, you are also getting a lot of help from digital imaging sensors, which makes taking pictures or shooting videos a breeze.

Image of a DSLR Camera on a stand

A reflex design scheme is the main difference between the DSLR and other digital cameras. In the reflex design, the light travels through the lens and then a mirror that is used to alternate is used to send the image to either a prism or the image viewfinder.

The viewfinder in a DSLR gives us an image that will not be a lot different than what you normally get when the image is taken and processed within the camera. However, differences in exposure, ISO, and shutter speed can often make things look dramatically different.

DSLR cameras are still being used in the modern-day and age despite being old, and even though the popularity is not as high as it used to be, they are still good for the job.

However, the market leaders such as Canon, Sony, and Nikon have slowly started their focus towards advancing the mirrorless cameras, which have become all the rage.

How Does A DSLR Work?

Understanding a DSLR can be a tricky process for newcomers, but to be honest, it is not that difficult to understand how it works.

It is the opposite in the overall functionality. But for those wondering, we are going to take a look at this, so you know what needs to be handled or looked at.

I have listed the parts down for you so you know what goes inside a mirrorless camera, and then I will tell you how it works.

  • Penta-prism.
  • Mirror.
  • Image sensor.
  • Secondary mirror.
  • Autofocus sensor.

These are the main components that you can find in a DSLR camera, and all of these components combined work together to create the result. Now, let’s see how everything works.

How Does A DSLR Work

First, the light hits the lens from the front. Once that is done, it travels through the lens, which then shapes it to the form that you are trying to capture.

Then it makes its way through the lens mount to the camera. Then it hits the main mirror; the mirror reflects most of the light to the viewfinder.

There, you have the pentaprism or a pentamirror that is used to direct the light to the viewer’s eye, which allows you to see exactly what the lens is seeing.

In SLR and DSLR cameras that have autofocus, a portion of the incoming light passes through the main mirror, where it hits a secondary mirror that directs the light down to the sensor that has autofocus.

In this state, none of the light hits the imaging sensor, and this is the main trait of DSLRs.

When you do press the shutter button to take a photo, the mirrors flip up, and this is the time when the light finally hits the sensors because the main mirror is no longer reflecting anything, and there is a blackout in the viewfinder that you get to witness for a very short time.

The shutter mechanism that is in front of the sensor opens up and exposes the image, and closes down after a set amount of time which is also called shutter speed.

After the exposure to light, the moving parts go back to their original position, and you can see the picture that you took in the first place.

Features Commonly Seen In DSLR

The thing about DSLR cameras is that they have some common features that you are going to come across.

However, it is important to know here is that these features have made their way to mirrorless cameras, further reducing the advantages that DSLR cameras used to have over mirrorless cameras.

Still, if you are interested in knowing the feature list, below is a list of features that you can find.

  • RAW and JPEG picture formats.
  • Interchangeable lenses.
  • Video recording.
  • Different camera modes.
  • ISO ranges.
  • Focus points.
  • Full frame or crop sensors.
  • Slow-motion video.

These are some of the common features that have found their way into DSLR cameras, but as I previously stated, these are now the common set of features that you are going to find in your mirrorless cameras as well.

Needless to say, whatever camera you are buying, having a good overall experience with your camera is always important, and you would be hard-pressed not to go with such a good camera as it is not going to make sense.

If you want to take good photos, investing in a good camera is always a great thing to get started with.

Types of DSLR Image Sensors

Whenever you find yourself in the market looking to buy a DSLR camera, you will also have to look at the different types of image sensors that have become prevalent over the past couple of years.

We are going to take a look at the most common ones below.

Image of a small camera sensor
  • CCD Sensor: CCD sensors capture photons as electrical charges in each photosite. After the exposure, the charges are swept off the chip to an amplifier that can be found in the corner of the sensor. External circuitry converts the analogue signal to digital form and handles the storing process on the memory card.
  • CMOS Sensor: This includes solid-state circuitry at each photosite and can manipulate the data for each pixel right in the sensor. The CMOS sensor can respond to lighting conditions in a way that the CCD sensor cannot, and every photosite can be accessed at the same time.

Interchangeable Lenses Explained

Now, we have to start focusing on interchangeable lenses as they have become a lot more common over the past couple of years, as well. You need to understand that these lenses are found in both DSLR and mirrorless cameras.

Understanding these lenses is not that difficult. For those wondering, these lenses can be attached and detached from a DSLR or a mirrorless camera.

Image of different types of camera lenses

The body of the camera is equipped with the ability to interchange the lenses, and this will allow the users to have various options whenever they are taking pictures.

The interchangeable lens is available from most first-party manufacturers like Sony, Canon, and Nikon, who make lenses for their cameras.

But the good thing is that third-party manufacturers like Sigma and Tamron have also made a lot of progress, and there are a lot of other, smaller companies who are focused on making these lenses and are doing a great job at it, as well.

Needless to say, you have a lot of options available if you are looking for good lenses and that too, without any issues that might come in the way.

Disadvantages of DSLR Cameras

DSLR cameras usually are great in terms of achieving whatever tasks you have with the camera, but you also need to know that these cameras are not often all that great in terms of how they perform.

Some limitations can come in the way. Below, you can look at some of the disadvantages of DSLR cameras.

  • Weight: DSLR cameras are generally heavier than some of the other options that are available in the market.
  • Size: Over the past couple of years, DSLR cameras have shrunk in size, but some of them are massive.
  • Moving Parts: Moving parts in a camera or anything can have a higher chance of failure as opposed to some other options.

The Pros of DSLR Cameras

Granted, there are a few disadvantages that you might run into when using a DSLR camera, but that does not mean that there are no advantages.

There are a few advantages that make these cameras compelling options and the main reason why you should put your money into these cameras.

Image of the dslr display
  • Quick start times.
  • Exceptional photo quality.
  • Great autofocusing.
  • Manual controls for those who want.
  • Continuous, fast speed shooting.
  • Countless lenses to choose from.

These are just some of the advantages that you are going to get from good DSLR cameras. However, the feature list or the list of benefits is the same across all the DSLR cameras that are available in the market.

Benefits of Taking Portraits With A DSLR

I know a lot of people might not believe this for one reason or another, but over the past couple of years, DSLRs have become a lot more common in terms of how good they are at taking photographs, especially portraits.

To a point that I have seen a lot of people using DSLRs for some really good portraits.

Image of a person showing the dslr display

Below you can find a few benefits of taking portraits using a DSLR, and they are convincing too, so you can look at these.

  • Get Close: One of the reasons why mirrorless cameras are so good when you are taking pictures is because you are going to get the chance to get real close with your subjects if you have good lenses.
  • Filling the Frames: Most people use prime lenses starting from 50mm to above, and these allow you to fill the frame and get some really good shots and that too, without any issues that might come in the way.
  • Shallow Depth of Field: With a DSLR camera with the right lens, you are also going to get the chance to take pictures with a shallow depth of field, which makes everything good in almost every aspect.

DSLR Versus Mirrorless Camera: What’s The Difference?

If you are in the market looking for a new camera, you will get the choice between the DSLR and mirrorless cameras, and choosing the right one is going to be difficult for a lot of people because they are not sure about what they are going to go with.

Well, the biggest difference between both camera types lies within the name. There is a reason why mirrorless cameras are called mirrorless cameras because there is no mirror in them.

Showing the difference of DSLR vs Mirrorless

This makes the size of the camera much smaller, and instead, you are getting two viewfinders; one being the screen and another being a small EVF that is where the optical viewfinder would be.

Mirrorless cameras, therefore a lot smaller and lighter in weight. Sadly, this does come at a cost of battery life being not as good because you are now getting power to 2 screens, but this has not been a massive issue as modern mirrorless cameras are a lot better with how they handle the battery life.

What Is The Difference Between DSLR And SLR Cameras?

Another thing that has managed to confuse so many people is the presence of DSLR and SLR cameras, and this has been the topic for some time.

Even though SLR cameras are almost non-existent in the market. But the differences are there, and therefore, it is better that you can figure it out.

image of SLR and DSLR camera

So, what are the differences?

Well, the overall mechanism in both cameras is more or less the same, which involves reflecting the light that enters the lens using a mirror so the image can be displayed on the viewfinder.

However, an SLR camera uses a film that is made of plastic, gelatin, or some other material that is used to record the image. On a DSLR camera, the image is digitally started on a memory card.

This is the main difference and perhaps the only difference between DSLR and SLR cameras that are available in the market. So, if you find yourself wondering about this next time, you know what to look for and what to ignore.


There you have it; I have, for the most part, dissected DSLR cameras for you. This was done not just for educational purposes but for the reason that the next time you are in the market looking for a camera, you at least know where to get started without running into any issues that might come in the way.

Rest assured, having this much knowledge about DSLR cameras is going to be more than enough whenever you are looking to buy a camera for your upcoming projects. Or even if you are a hobbyist, going through all these things is important.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1- What is a DSLR camera good for?

Answer: For those wondering, DSLR cameras are good for almost every single thing that you can think about. Whether you are taking pictures or videos, these cameras are great, and they will work without any issues, either. This means that you do not have to worry much about the cameras and how they are going to perform.

Q2- What is the difference between a DSLR and a normal camera?

Answer: There are countless differences between normal cameras and DSLRs. For starters, DSLR cameras will allow you to change the lenses like SLR cameras, and the picture, as well as video quality, is inherently superior when you are talking about a good DSLR camera.

Q3- Which is better, DSLR or digital camera?

Answer: DSLR cameras are a lot more superior to digital cameras that are also called point and shoot cameras. These cameras are made for experts, and they do shoot some amazing pictures as well. So, you will need to learn how to take the best pictures.

Q4- Which is better, SLR or DSLR?

Answer: There is no denying that DSLR cameras are a lot better than SLR cameras. Simply because these cameras can store the images digitally on the memory card instead of having them stored on a film, which is not as intuitive for a lot of people.

Q5- Which DSLR is best for photography?

Answer: That depends on the type of photography you are looking to do. If you are just getting started, you can opt for a cropped sensor DSLR that is going to be good and cheap, too. However, if you want something better in every aspect, you will need to look for a full-frame camera.

Q6- Which is better, Nikon or Canon DSLR?

Answer: Honestly, this used to be a common question in the old days, but this no longer applies because over the past couple of years, Canon and Nikon have caught up with the cameras, and they now have a lot of options that compete with each other.

Q7- Which DSLR is best for beginners?

Answer: If you are just starting, you might want to go for a Canon EOS 90D for a cropped sensor camera, as it would make a great option. However, if you are looking for a full-frame camera, you can opt for the Canon 6D Mark 2. These cameras do not cost a lot and are great for beginners, which I can assure you.

Q8- Do you need a DSLR to take good pictures?

Answer: No, if you are looking to take good pictures, you do not need to have a good camera. You need to have a good understanding of photography, a good perspective, and the right skills to take the pictures that you would like.

Q9- What does DSLR stand for in text?

Answer: DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex, and the reason why these are called digital cameras is because of how they can store the images on a memory card rather than somewhere else.

Q10- Will DSLR cameras become obsolete?

Answer: Yes, they will. This transition has already started as all major camera manufacturers are now focusing on releasing mirrorless cameras rather than going for DSLR cameras.

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