What Does SLR Mean in Cameras?

What Does SLR Mean in Cameras

So you just bought your best vlogging camera; and you wonder, what does SLR mean in cameras? It’s probably your first time owning a camera and you’re still figuring things out. Modern DSLRs are quite common among vloggers because it’s one of the best ways to take pictures and videos alike. Now you’ve been seeing that piece of imagery everywhere and you wonder what its name really means.

The Meaning Of SLR

SLR is short for Single Lens Reflex. So the complete name of DSLR is Digital Single Lens Reflex. SLR is a term associated with both traditional cameras and digital cameras. The mechanism involves a mirror placed between the film and the lens to provide the user a focus screen.

In DSLRs, the SLR still consists of a mirror placed between the image sensor and the lens to fulfill the same purpose – a focus screen.

In traditional cameras, the SLR makes it possible for you to produce pictures in the film the way you see your subject in the view finder. In modern DSLRs, the SLR also makes it possible to produce a digital picture the way you see it in the LCD or viewfinder.

What Is The Difference Between SLR And DSLR?

The idea is already conveyed above. DSLR stands for Digital Single-Lens Reflex camera or Digital SLR. A DSLR merges the concept, mechanism, and optics of the conventional SLR camera with a digital imaging sensor.

The invention of DSLR cameras makes the concept of photographic ‘film’ almost obsolete. DSLRs are introduced during the 2000s and are able to primarily replace film-based SLRs. Moreover, mirror-less system cameras called point-and-shoot have risen into popularity in the mid 2000s – more commonly known as digital cameras. Despite the rising popularity of the mirror-less camera variants, DSLRs still remain the most common and widely-accepted type of interchangeable lens camera until 2018.

DSLRs are expected to dominate photography industries in more coming years. It’s hard to think of any way to beat the high quality and distinct nature of the images produced by DSLRs. Even a high-end digital camera would still lose to the prowess of a DSLR. As most professionals would say, megapixels are not everything.

What is the difference between a DSLR and digital camera (point-and-shoot)?

Just because they are both digital doesn’t mean they are already the same. The main difference between a DSLR and a digital camera lies on the reflex design scheme. The reflex design is only found in a DSLR and not in a digital camera.

The reflex design principle involves the light passing through the lens and into the mirror. The image absorbed will bounce from the mirror to the image sensor or the viewfinder. The term “single-lens” is derived from the alternative idea of the viewfinder having its own lens, hence “single.”

Since a DSLR uses and shares the same lens with what the image sensor utilizes, you will have an image that is exactly the same with what is captured by your camera’s sensor.

What is the difference between a DSLR and non-SLR cameras?

The DSLR differs from non-SLR variants in such a way the viewfinder shows a direct optical view by the lens, as opposed to being captured by the image sensor of the camera and then showed in the digital screen.

How Does an SLR Work?

SLRs are basically interchangeable lenses. In DSLRs, the single-lens reflex involves a reflex mirror, image sensor, focal-plan shutter, condenser lens, matte focusing screen, pentamirror, and the viewfinder eyepiece – all integrated into one image-capturing system.

The mechanism starts with the movable mechanical mirror which the system will switch down into an exact 45-degree angle. The purpose of the mirror is to direct light through a matte focusing screen. The image goes via the condenser lens and into the pentamirror (or pentaprism), and finally to the viewfinder eyepiece wherein you peek. Entry level DSLRs does not use traditional pentaprisms but instead use pentamirror.

There are two ways to focus on your subject – automatic and manual. Manual focus will require you to twist the lens with your hands. Automatic focus can be activated by pressing the dedicated AF button or half-way on the shutter release.

DSLR vs Point and Shoot camera

Point and shoot cameras are also known by many as “digital cameras.” Even though DSLRs are also ‘digital’ by nature, a lot of people still associate the term ‘digital cameras’ with point-and-shoot cameras.

Although point-and-shoot cameras come with their own advantages, a DSLR camera can easily compete and outnumber the number of advantages of the former. Here are some of the pros associated with Digital SLR cameras.

Better Sensitivity To Light

A point-and-shoot camera can never be ideal in dim environments. DSLR cameras, on the other hand, can produce images with less noise allowing you to capture dark photographs that you can never do with a point-and-shoot camera. Further, with a DSLR, you will get a real black image without any grains in the image.

Best Image Quality

This factor alone is enough to close the case, DSLR vs Point-and-shoot cameras. The former basically has a bigger sensor. To give you a glimpse of scale, the image sensor of a typical point-and-shoot is only about 3-5 percent of a full frame DSLR sensor. This is the reason why DSLR-captured images have no noise at all.

Get What You See

With Digital SLR cameras, what you see is basically what you get. Sometimes, even better! Digital SLRs can acquire focus pretty quickly. This camera can also take more frames per second than any other camera variants to date.

Better controls

DSLR cameras offer more flexibility in terms of controls. With more manual options, DSLRs makes itself a better choice for professionals. Matter of fact, all professional photography like sports and documentary films have DSLRs involve.

Flexible Lens

All DSLR have propriety lens. However, this type gives you the ability to use different lenses. There is a large array of lenses you can mount and utilize for different purposes. Depending on your needs, there are lenses that can zoom in far subjects. There are also lenses capable of wide angle shots for picturesque views. Simply put, there is a lens for a specific job. A DSLR camera has got your back!


So what does SLR mean in cameras? Knowing what the acronym stands for is not enough. There is really so much to learn about SLRs in general. And this article is not enough to sum up everything; but it sure is able to give you a clear glimpse of the photographic skills of DSLRs.

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