DSLR Basics

Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras use a mirror to aim the image from the lens either to the viewfinder or to the camera sensor. Once a scarce high priced item for the cutting edge professional, the DSLR is now as common as the

original consumer digital camera, the point-and-shoot. What makes the DSLRs so much better than the point-and-shoot? The lens. In the camera world both size and quality matter.  Compare a lens size of a point and shoot to a SLR set up.We will mention this next point several times: Don't put too much importance on the megapixel number! A six megapixel Nikon D40 will take much better pictures than a 12 megapixel Nikon COOLPIX S630.  

Key points to the DSLR world.  You can change lenses.  You don't have to, but you can.  You have control of almost every aspect of the photograph.  The camera will have automatic modes that let you use it like a point-and-shoot if you want. The viewfinder is what the picture will be.  Use the viewfinder.  While most newer DSLRs offer a real time display on the rear LCD, the viewfinder is still the best way to use your DSLR.  

There are many brands of DSLRs out there including Nikon, Sony, Canon, Minolta, and Pentax.   There are hundreds of companies that make accessories that work with or are compatible with the major brands.  Most of the detailed references here will be to Nikon, because that is what we use.  We are not recommending any brand over the other.  

Thinking about buying? Read this shopping guide before buying.