DSLR stands for digital single lens reflex. As I have already mentioned it in a previous post, so now I’m elaborating about the camera in this post. It has a mechanical system which uses a mirror system, for guiding the light entering through lens into a pentaprism and via mirror it passes to the viewfinder. And hence there is a complete ‘What you see is What you Get’ output, i-e you view the exact image without any parallax error (as in a rangefinder and other types of cameras) which you are about to shoot from the same lens. When the shutter is pressed, the mirror bounces, and hence the light, instead of getting guided to the viewfinder, falls on the image sensor (or photography film in case of Film SLR) and thus the image gets recorded.
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Generally no one seems interested in getting the above knowledge. To an ordinary person, a DSLR is a typical ‘high-end camera which has changeable lenses’. Yes, they also have very good Depth of Field as compared to a point and shoot. As I said here in this post, I’m going to talk about the DSLR, its strengths and weaknesses in detail, so here I begin them.
Strengths of a DSLR:
- Image Quality: Yes, this is the first and the foremost reason for which a person spends more than double the amount he can spend to purchase a Point and Shoot for a DSLR. DSLRs have larger image sensors, for which even an 8 megapixel DSLR has far better image quality than a 14 megapixel Point and Shoot. The DSLRs are also designed to shoot at very high ISO ranges, which lead to less film grains and sharper, crispier images.
- Speed: this is another reason, but of course secondary for a DSLR. The DSLR machinery, though bulky, is far more capable to get you the ‘lucky shots’. They switch on and load in almost no time, their dictionary doesn’t keeps a word called shutter lag, and also, the powerful mechanism is capable of capturing many frames (Nikon D3, for example, can take as many as 11 frames per second, and has a capacity of 130 continuous shots in the buffer, hence one of the fastest DSLR cameras)
- Optical Viewfinder: it has been discussed in the beginning itself, the DSLR provides an exact WHSIWYG (What you see is What you Get) output, as while looking, and tracking down your subject through your viewfinder, you actually are looking through the lens, which gives you a proper idea of the “Depth of Field” and your image which is to be captured.
- Adaptability: A DSLR is highly adaptable. Each lens opens up a new dimension of possibilities. Also, its not only just lens, there are a whole lot of stuffs that can be installed on a DSLR, as per the requirement, and budget, and not on a Point and Shoot, for example flashes, microphones, filters, lenses, to even telescopes, etc.
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- Depth of Field: this topic is pretty analogous to adaptability. DOF is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image. Sometimes in many images we see a small subject distinctly sharp, crisp and every other closer and farther objects blurred (shallow DOF). At times this is desirable, whereas with some lenses it is possible to have a larger depth of field.
- Manual settings: what’s the utility of a pilot if a plane can travel in auto-pilot mode? Yet every plane needs one. Similarly, good pictures are generated under manual settings and conditions, for which every DSLR is specially prepared. In these types of cameras, the manual settings are placed in very handy positions so that the photographers are at ease for controlling.
- Large range of ISO Settings: this functionality varies between every camera model, but in general, a DSLR provides a great range of ISO sensitivity, and are also able to shoot at high ISO ranges.
Weaknesses of a DSLR
- Cost: yes this one’s of course the most striking weakness, the price of a DSLR. An average DSLR is far more expensive than an average Point and Shoot. Accessories such as lenses, flashes, filters, etc add to the cost of DSLRs again.
- Being Bulky: No one wishes to carry a big bag with a heavy bulky camera, and/or different lenses in every occasion where one has to walk in. Instead, everyone prefers a Point and Shoot for the purpose.
- Maintenance: every individual person or thing needs special attention from us, and so does a DSLR. But the maintenance risks are quite high. Each time when the lens is changed, there’s a possibility of dust particles which may enter the camera and image sensor. Now a days DSLRs are arriving the market which have self cleaning sensor mechanism.
- Noise: A DSLR is noisier than a Point and Shoot camera. This is because of the mechanical mechanism inside the camera, the bouncing mirror and all, and the noise can increase or decrease depending upon the lens setup being used with the camera.
- Complex: DSLRs are designed to provide the photographer entire control over all his settings, but however, they may confuse a beginner by their too many settings and controls. But now a days even this thing is being overcome. New models now accommodate even a fully automatic mode for shooting.
- Lack of Live View: this was some issue which is generally now vanishing from the new age DSLRs, as there are too many photographers who prefer not to use a viewfinder to peep through, which generally includes most of the beginners. Now a days few cameras also incorporate a 360 degree swivel screen which allows a photographer to shoot from many angles, thus opening a new world of possibilities for shots.