Features of a Digital SLR Camera

Photography has always been a rewarding but expensive hobby. When you are ready to enter the world of single lens reflex (SLR) photography, today's option is the digital SLR (DSLR) camera. You can chose between entry-level models or the kind the professionals use. You can spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Before you can compare models, you'll need to understand the features of digital SLR cameras, what they can do for your pictures and how they differ from their point-and-shoot cousins.

Features of a digital SLR camera

The "reflex" in single lens reflex comes from the way the camera gets the picture from the lens to your eye. A series of mirrors reflect the light (and thus the image) that comes in from the lens to your eye through the viewfinder. You see almost exactly in the viewfinder what will be in the picture.

Most people are used to point-and-shoot digital cameras that show a secondary image on a screen, but that often is larger than the resulting picture will be. The DSLR provides a better idea of the photo you're about to take. Some DSLRs have a "live preview" mode. This shows on the LCD screen exactly what you'd see in the viewfinder. This is a nice feature of a digital SLR camera.

Smaller frame cameras best for nonpros

DSLRs are the closest that digital cameras can come to the film images we were used to. If you're interested in exactly mirroring old-school, 35mm-lens photography, you'll want to look for "full frame" DSLRs. Warning: These cameras are very expensive. However, you still can take great photos with a DSLR that isn't full frame. Many pros use the smaller frame cameras.

Most DSLRs can automate the somewhat complicated process of taking a great SLR picture. The camera will automatically sense the amount of light available, how fast the lens' shutter should click and how to focus the lens. Of course, some cameras will do this better and faster than others. Speed is important when taking pictures of a moving object or person. You will want your camera to make decisions quickly.

Automating these processes is nothing new. Many nondigital SLRs had this capability. As with the old style of cameras, you can turn off automating the process and chose your own settings for the ultimate in creativity.

High definition the latest feature

High definition photography is a recent addition to the features of a digital SLR camera. Cameras with this feature can capture video at a high definition broadcast standard, suitable for showing on your HDTV.

Some DSLRs have a small hard drive to store the pictures you take. Others require a memory card. Many have the option to use both. While this is similar to the point-and-shoot digital camera, the DSLRs have greater storage capacity.

Many cameras boast of the increasingly high number of pixels a camera has. The smaller the number of pixels in a digital image, the harder it will be to reproduce a quality picture at a larger size. Most hobby photographers will be fine using a camera that produces images with 8 to 10 megapixels (MP). You can easily make a great-quality 8-by-10-inch print with this amount.

The most obvious difference between compact digital cameras and DSLRs are the optional, interchangeable lenses. This option is the best features of a digital SLR camera. It opens up a wide variety of types of shots available to you, from close-ups of a flower to capturing a soccer goal from the stands.

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