What is the difference between an SLR and a DSLR?

  • What are the differences between SLRs and DSLRs? (I know that DSLRs are Digital SLRs but are there any actual differences?)

    Also, what are the advantages/disadvantages of both?

    @Olin thanks and all of the answers are great, I want to accept them all, but I upvoted them all, it really helps :)

    vtc b/c answer is in the question -- "I know that DSLRs are Digital SLRs".

    @xiota It's reasonable to ask if there differences in the function or construction that are not immediately obvious, that are required to make a DSLR functional. I suggest trying to improve the wording of the question or title (that's not inconsistent with the existing answers) to reflect the implicit question, rather than close it.

    @scottbb The answer is self-explanatory. A camera qualifies as a DSLR as long as it is an SLR that has the necessary electronics to support a sensor and storage media, instead of film. Once upon a time, Kodak made DSLRs by directly modifying existing film SLRs made by Nikon and Canon.

    @xiota So there are no differences? Autofocus considerations or design differences, etc.?

    @scottbb There are new techniques that are possible because of the use of a sensor rather than film, but they're not required for a camera to be a DSLR. Canon has been making autofocus lenses with image stabilization since before they were making DSLRs. Medium-format film camera can be converted to digital just by swapping in a digital back. Sensitivities to different spectra, like near infrared, can be obtained by switching film types. Etc.

  • Itai

    Itai Correct answer

    8 years ago

    Nowadays, both terms are using interchangeably because the vast majority of SLRs in production are digital and there was not been a new model of another type of SLR in years.

    SLR refers to a camera with a Single Lens and a Reflex mirror to bend the light path to the optical viewfinder for framing. A DSLR is a Digital SLR, meaning it has a digital sensor to record images.

    Digital SLRs have may advantages compared to their film counter-parts. You get the digital workflow with instead previews and low usage costs. Taking thousands of images is easy with a digital. On the other hand, each roll of film costs money takes space and most be properly kept until developed (and after too).

    Film SLRs have advantages and can be far more durable and resistant to extreme environments. They require much less care and batteries last for years. Some do not even need batteries to operate, although you loose metering and autofocus obviously. They are not prone to sensor-dust (or film-dust) because a new frame is used for each shot.

    Advances mean that image quality greatly favors digital cameras which now have over 14 stops of dynamic-range and reach stellar ISO sensitivities as high as 204,800. With resolutions reaching 36 MP too, they can capture a tremendous amount of details.

    When DSLRs had around 6 MP people would argue which one captures more details but I have not seen anyone argue about it anymore. Of course, with a film camera, it depends on the film used and the resolution is actually not a uniform grid, so highlights get more resolution and shadows less.

    I accepted this as it gave advantages and disadvantages which were very useful, although I wanted so, so much to accept them all!

    For completeness: There are a few 1950s/1960s models that meter (though not TTL) without a battery :)

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM