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Different Types of Digital Cameras

Last Updated 26th February 2019

While the very first digital camera was developed in 1975 by a man named Steven Sasson, they didn’t really hit the public market until the early 1990s. These days, you will be able to find a digital camera in almost every household as they are much more affordable than their early 90’s predecessors. Given this, it may surprise you to know that there are still many photographers who prefer to shoot film over digital!

With such a large and diverse range of digital cameras on the market today it can be overwhelming for someone who is just getting their feet wet in photography to decide on the right camera for them. For a better understanding, let’s take a look at some of the different types of digital cameras.

Compact Cameras

As the name implies, these cameras are nice and small, compact enough to stick in your pocket when you’re on the go and perfect for anyone who is looking to capture basic images in a jiffy. Also known as a point-and-shoot camera, the compact camera is the bare-bones, no-frills option.

They don’t have nearly as many features, bells, and whistles that you’ll find on the other cameras we’ll tell you about. Still, modern technology has made the compact camera a great choice for anyone who isn’t too serious about photography and just wants snap photos on the fly of their children and pets.

Some, but not all compact cameras are equipped with a zoom lens that’s a bit more powerful than what you’ll find on your basic point-and-shoot. For this kind of feature, you’re going to pay a bit more, of course.

There are also action cameras that fall under the compact camera category. These rugged cameras are designed to withstand the elements—be it the weather, the sea, or an aggressive toddler. With action cameras that are shockproof, waterproof, and/or temperature-resistant you’ll often find that other features may be compromised.

DSLR Cameras

Considered to be one of the best types of cameras out there, the DSLR camera is hugely popular among serious, professional photographers, if not the most popular choice. DSLR stands for digital single-lens reflex, and you may have heard of them referred to as digital SLRs—these terms are interchangeable.

The features on these cameras are pretty impressive—with lenses to change out and a superior number of controls, the DSLR captures stunning images of very high quality. Because of these features, most photography professionals rely on their DSLRs more than any other camera.

Without getting too technical, it’s the mirror technology of the DSLR that sets it apart from the others. The mirror inside the camera reflects light that enters through the lens into the viewfinder. The word ‘reflex’ is for the mirror’s reflection, which allows you to see exactly what you’re shooting.

To capture your image, you press the shutter which flips the mirror away and opens the slides of the shutter to allow the light in, and voila! There’s your photo.

To that end, we wouldn’t recommend a DSLR for a true novice who is not interested in learning about how to use the camera to its maximum potential. They are pricey—albeit worth it—and if all you’re looking for is a high-resolution image, then it’d be better to just save your money.

DSLT Cameras

Not to be confused with the DSLR, the DSLT, or digital single-lens translucent camera does resemble a DSLR quite closely from the outside. However, it’s the inner workings of the cameras that set them apart. A DSLT camera has a fixed translucent mirror that reflects what the lens picks up.

Because the mirror is not moving, a DSLT camera can shoot more frames per second than any other camera—up to 12 frames per second. Additionally, the fixed mirror means that the DSLT camera doesn’t vibrate from within with any flipping mechanisms, so the only chance of movement negatively impacting the image quality is sheer human error.

Because of their shooting speed, DSLT cameras are excellent for action shots. You won’t miss a single frame.

Compact Mirrorless System Cameras

Yes, we did already mention compact cameras, but compact mirrorless system cameras deserve their own section because they’re in a league of their own.

You’ll find that shooting with a compact mirrorless system camera yields images of far superior quality to a basic compact camera. These cameras are still small but offer far more versatility by way of features than your standard point-and-shoot. First and most importantly of all, you can change out the lens on these, which gives you a much wider range of control and functionality.

Many of the features you’ll find in the aforementioned DSLR come standard in compact mirrorless system cameras, while still being lightweight and less cumbersome. Not to mention, they are less expensive as well.

Even professional photographers are using compact mirrorless system cameras as an alternative to their trusty DSLRs.

Super-Zoom Cameras

Flickr: @r.nial.bradshaw

Super-zoom cameras, also known as bridge cameras are sort of like the level between compacts and DSLRs (hence bridge).

The large body of the super-zoom means it’s not as convenient as a point-and-shoot, and the powerful lens is just about the only thing it has going for it which means it pales in comparison to the DSLR. Super-zooms aren’t so popular anymore, because, for the price you’d pay for one, it’s worth investing in a better camera.

And… Shoot!

Whether it’s photography or video, all of the above digital cameras can do both. Just be sure to invest in a camera that fits your lifestyle and photography needs. What suits a professional studio photographer may not be the right fit for someone who wants to Instagram their brunch; just like what a beauty blogger is looking for may not be the best choice for the outdoorsy adventurer.

It’s also worth mentioning that the most important point to take into consideration is your skill level, and how much you’re willing to learn if you need to. In short, the best type of camera is entirely dependent on you!

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