A Guide on What is SLR Photography

Do you know what’s SLR photography? Here it goes a guide about it!

In this post you will discover what are SLR photos and how they evolved from their old form to nowadays modern digital photos taken with Digital SLR cameras, a.k.a. DSLRs.

You will also see what are the benefits of DSLR cameras and what differs them from other cameras such as mirrorless and compact cameras.

Plus, we’ll compare the benefits of DSLRs and other camera types, so you can finish this reading with your ideal camera in mind for your future photoshoots!

Let’s see what is SLR photography.

What's SLR Photography

SLR photography in a nutshell

“SLR” means Single Lens Reflex which refers to the way photos were shot with SLR cameras.

Before digital photography started, old times SLR cameras had an internal reflex mirror and prism system that would bend the light path to the optical viewfinder for framing the shooting image.

This allowed photographers to preview though the SLR camera lens the exact image that was being captured, which was a major evolution of old times photography.

Old Times Cameras and Their Issues

Here’s why:

When film rolls were still used to store images, all cameras had two optical paths. In Twin Lens Reflex cameras (or TLR cameras) the light would pass through the camera lens onto the camera film roll and onto the Twin Lens Reflex.

In rangefinder cameras (also from old times), the light had two optical paths: it would pass through the camera lens and through the camera rangefinder.

That caused a serious problem: the resulting photos were different from the viewing image of the shooting scene.

It’s just as if you would take a selfie smiling, then you would stop smiling because the photo is “ready”, and when you check it up it’s your serious face with no smile that was shot by your phone’s camera, and that would happen a lot!

So you would never be sure of what image you were really shooting. What you saw as not what you got as a photo!

No camera could solve this issue back them.

Then, SLR cameras were invented.

SLR Photography and Classic SLR Cameras

From there on, with the reflex mirror and a single optical path, photographers could preview the final photo during the shooting process. So, no more disappointing surprises!

Nowadays, SLR cameras are classic vintage collectibles.

With the arrival of the digital world, SLR cameras evolved to Digital SLR cameras, the so called DSLRs. The idea behind them is the same, now with fully digital storage and functionalities.

Let’s see how they work.

Digital SLR cameras a.k.a. DSLRs

The new tech era brought up the Digital SLRs or simply DSLRs. They also use Single Lens Reflex to capture images, the main difference is that it’s all processed digitally with an image sensor.

DSLR’s image sensors allow the camera to turn light particles known as photons into electrical signals stored on the digital camera memory card.

DSLR Cameras and What Makes Them Special

So, instead of keeping the photos in film rolls as classic SLR did, DSLRs can store thousands of photos and videos with their image sensor tech combined with memory cards. Cool, right?!

DSLRs have removable and replaceable lenses that can be changed based on the photography type. This means you can have special DSLR lenses for nature photography and special DSLR lenses for urban landscape photography.

Now let’s see what are the advantages of using DSLR cameras.

Benefits of DSLR cameras

DSLR cameras grew popular through the years 2000, and nowadays they’re used by many photography enthusiasts, photography beginners and professional photographers.


There are many reasons why you should invest in a DSLR camera:

  • You can shoot anything you want, no matter how action-full is the scene
  • You can be sure to accurately preview the final photo result

Reasons to Have a DSLR Camera

  • You can change the lenses of a DSLR camera for different photo types
  • Yo to capture images with a huge resolution and color quality using a DSLR
  • You can take photos and record videos during low light moments such as nighttime are no problem to DSLRs
  • You can shoot images all day through with DSLRs thanks to their long battery duration
  • You can record 4K 1080p videos with DSLRs
  • You can be sure to invest in cheap DSLR cameras thanks to their popularity that make prices drop
  • Your photos and videos will get that pro Hollywood feel that everybody loves

Now you know it: DSLR cameras are a great investment, even for beginner photographers!

Let’s see what makes Digital SLRs different from another popular camera type: the mirrorless cameras.

Mirrorless cameras and how they differ from DSLRs

Mirrorless cameras work without the reflex mirror. They have a single removable lens and also have a digital image sensor. In mirrorless cameras, the light passes through the lens right onto the digital image sensor.

Mirrorless cameras have an electronic viewfinder (or EVF). That differs from DSLR optical viewfinder (or OVF) that works mechanically and not digitally.

Mirrorless Cameras and How They Differ from DSLRs

Just remember that with both cameras you will put your eye onto the viewfinder and visualize the preview of the photo about to be taken.

Also, mirrorless cameras have a bayonet-style mount for attaching different lenses (made for mirrorless cameras of course). Mirrorless cameras shoot high definition photos and videos too. They simply function with a more compact technology. But don’t think they deliver poor quality! On the contrary!

There are some cases in which you might actually prefer using a mirrorless camera.

Let’s see why.

The benefits of mirrorless cameras

You can benefit from using mirrorless cameras in many ways depending on the occasion you’re photoshooting:


Benefits of Mirrorless Cameras and Why You Should Get One

  • You can use the Electronic Viewfinder to preview videos as well, which doesn’t
    happen with DSLRs
  • Mirrorless cameras are smaller and lighter
  • They’re easier to carry around
  • You don’t get that shutter sound of DSLRs when you take photos with mirrorless cameras because they have no mirror flipping up and down when you shoot
  • They’re easier to use with certain photo styles, such as underwater photography
  • You can use third party lenses in mirrorless cameras

There’s one more camera type you should know about because it gets compared to DSLRs very often: the point-and-shoot cameras.

A few words about point-and-shoot “compact” cameras

Point-and-shoot cameras a.k.a. P&S or compact cameras are, as their name promises, smaller compact cameras also working with a digital image sensor. However, they have one fixed lens. They also have flash units.

They shoot with automatic systems so you simply “point and shoot” and let the camera do the whole focus and light exposure job for you. Cool, right?!

Just keep in mind that P&S compact cameras have a somewhat small image sensor. But that doesn’t stop them from delivering great image quality in high definition!

Point and Shoot Compact Cameras Benefits

Compact cameras are great for photos you take on-the-go and in daily life, and also for quick photos that don’t demand many adjustments.

But they’re not the best option for certain photo styles that require more details, such as wildlife and landscape photography. Also, if your aim is to record videos, you’re better off with a DSLR or a mirrorless camera that deliver higher quality footage.

Don’t give up on compact cameras though!

They’re great to take with you on vacation and trips as a backup camera. If all your DSLR/mirrorless camera memory cards are filled up, a compact camera can come at your rescue!

Conclusion: try them all and choose your favorite!

Now you know what’s SLR photography, what are DSLR cameras and how they differ from mirrorless cameras and point-and-shoot compact cameras.

You also know what’s the best one for different occasions.

So, how to choose one?

There’s no better way to test a camera than using it yourself! Also, it’s cool to have one camera of each type to compare them in practice. Then you can decide which one you prefer and even start your personal camera collection if you’re a photography enthusiast!

So don’t hesitate to test those camera types to see what you get!

You can also share your thoughts in the comments below!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *