Types of DSLR Cameras with Descriptions and Characteristics

Types of DSLR cameras

Several decades ago, the field of photography wasn’t as developed as it is right now. In the past, there was a limited choice of cameras, lenses, and tool available for photography. However, the market has expanded significantly since that time. Thus, modern experts in the field of photography have an extensive range of devices to pick from.

SLR cameras that were extremely popular are now replaced by their digital analogs – DSLR cameras. Modern DSLRs are created using high-end technology, so the quality of their performance has also increased. Now, it can cause lots of confusion as there are too many options. In this article, we are going to dive in the world of DSLR cameras and their main types to help you figure out what to look for!

What Is A DSLR Camera?

If you are not new to the world of photography, you should know what an abbreviation SLR stands for – a single lens reflex camera. DSLR is the same, with only one difference – its sensor is digital, which means it doesn’t require using a photographing film.

Cameras from this category have a complex mechanism that consists of a lens, pentaprism, and a mirror that drives the light. How does it work? In brief, the light flux goes through the camera’s lens and falls onto a mirror that reflects it. When the shutter opens to let the light pass through it, the light is driven to the sensor, which captures a picture.

How Do DSLR Cameras Differ From Each Other?

DSLR cameras can differ by many characteristics including a number of megapixels, ISO range, shooting speed, video resolution, and many others. However, talking about different types of DSLR cameras, we are going to speak mostly about one essential factor – the size of the sensor.

In total, there are five kinds of such cameras. Each of them, depending on the size of the sensor they feature, has specific pros and cons. Thus, it might be rather challenging to decide which one suits you the most. To help you out, we have prepared a short guide into types of DSLRs with a detailed description of each.

Video/Still Cameras

Unlike compact cameras, many DSLRs used to lack one essential feature – a possibility to capture videos. This was quite overwhelming for many users. However, there were clear reasons why manufacturers of DSLRs didn’t bother about including video recording features in their devices. First of all, these cameras were designed for professional photography, not videography. Also, including this feature used to be a real challenge from the technical side.

However, the situation was changed by Nikon. They were the first to release a DSLR that can record videos. Since that time, many manufacturers were adding this feature to their cameras too. So, here we have our last category of DSLR cameras.

Micro 4/3

Frankly speaking, although Micro 4/3 is still considered to be one of the types of DSLRs, it is much different from all the other cameras in this class. In simple words, it is not exactly a DSLR. At least, not in a sense that we are used to. While all SLRs consist of a reflex mirror and optical viewfinder, Micro 4/3 models have a different mechanism.

Definition – This type of cameras implies the lack of an optical viewfinder, which is its main distinctive feature from other DSLRs. Instead, such cameras are equipped with an electronic viewfinder.

Why is it still considered a type of DSLR, not a compact camera? In fact, this is a fair question since models from this category come without the main element that every DSLR should have – an optical viewfinder. However, unlike compact cameras, Micro 4/3 still come with interchangeable lenses.

4/3rds Sensor

This type of sensor is relatively new compared to the previous two. The new standard was introduced by one of the leading brands in the market of photo equipment – Olympus.

Definition – DSLRs that are developed using this standard can be used with any 4/3rds lens. This makes such cameras highly compatible.

Is compatibility important? It is! Some brands may offer a limited number of accessories for their products, which can become a real problem for some photographers. 4/3rds DSLRs change the game – they allow you to set a lens from any manufacturer, which significantly increases your flexibility!

There are a few more benefits of this type of cameras. First of all, they are lighter and smaller, which makes them stands out among other DSLRs that are typically quite bulky. Apart from the compactness of cameras from this category, the lenses compatible with them are also light and small, which is another benefit.

However, there are a few additional things to consider before you pick this type of cameras:

  • They are known for higher crop factor due to a smaller size
  • They have a different aspect ratio, which influences how your images print

Full Frame Sensor

This option is considered the best one of all. For many decades, full frame sensors showed the best performance and quality. Even now, professionals and enthusiasts most often choose DSLRs with this sensor type.

What is the definition of a full frame sensor? In simple words, it is a standard size that equals 35mm. Such sensors ensure that the camera captures the whole image that passes through the lens, as there is no crop factor featured in it.

Some of the key advantages of this category of cameras is improved image quality. In addition, such cameras are known for having less noise when shooting at high ISO. The quality of performance in low light conditions is also much better within cameras from this category, as their larger sensors can capture more light.

Read more about Full Frame DSLR Cameras: Definition, Benefits, and Top Five

Cropped Sensor

This is the last type of cameras that we are going to discuss, but it’s not less popular. We bet that many of you have heard of it, as most of the models available on the market today fall into this category.

What does a cropped sensor mean? It is smaller than a standard frame of 35mm film used in old cameras. This gives your images a slight zoom effect. This happens because the camera is unable to capture the full scene that goes through its lens and therefore, it crops the image.

The fact that sensor crops the image you take also means that photographers need to take into account the focal length multiplier when shooting.

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