Cameras are basically classified as
Compact Cameras (also known as PointAnd-Shoot cameras) or Single Lens
Reflex (SLR, Digital SLRs are called DSLR).
However, due to the competition and
the high demand for better all-in-one
gadgets, many models came out that
may not fall directly on any of the basic
categories. We will add them as a
separate classification called SubCompact Cameras.
Compact Cameras or Point-and-Shoot cameras
are those cameras that allow you to do just that -"Point" and "Shoot". No need to worry about any
special settings. These cameras are generally small
(pocket size), lightweight, and has very minimal
buttons and knobs. Most of the settings are
automatic including focusing, flash, white balance,
and light adjustments.
Traditional compact cameras use a simple window
through the body of the camera as a viewfinder.
This does not show you the real image that the
imaging chip will actually capture since it is in a
different position as the chip. Newer cameras
however already use LCD displays to show what
the imaging sensor see.
Another thing about compact cameras is the size
of the lens and the imaging chip. Since they are
generally small, there is very little space inside to
allow for larger sensors and lenses so they are
equipped with very small imaging chips and also
small lenses. They also have either fixed lenses or
very minimal zoom capabilities.
These limitations on the size of the
imaging sensors and lenses are the main
reasons why compact cameras
generally have mediocre quality outputs
compared to higher classes of cameras.
At the same time these are also some of
the reasons why they are much
Cameras that belong to this classification may
range from more advanced compact cameras to
SLR-like cameras with long zoom lenses. The
differences between these and Compact cameras
are: Sub-Compact cameras can be used with
Automatic, Semi-manual, or Fully Manual settings;
they may have a bit larger bodies and thus larger
sensors and larger lenses; they generally have
longer zoom ranges; and obviously a bit heavier.
These cameras are geared towards
more advanced users who understand a
bit more than the basics of taking
pictures, who want more control over
the images they take with their cameras.
Single Lens Reflex cameras use only one main lens
set. The image from this lens is delivered to the
viewfinder through a set of mirrors and / or prisms
working like a periscope. When the shutter button is
pressed, the mirror momentarily closes to allow the
image to go from the lens directly to the imaging chip.
This way, the viewfinder will show the user to the actual
image as it would appear in the imaging sensor.
All these mechanical parts are obviously some of
the reasons why SLR and Digital SLR (DSLR)
cameras have large and heavy bodies. DSLRs are
also fitted with much larger and more sensitive
imaging chips that produce high quality images
even on poorly lit environments. The lenses used by
SLRs are detachable and can be replaced with
other compatible lenses with different features.
Most DSLR lenses have functions that are
controllable by the camera body such as focusing,
zooming and image stabilization. This requires
additional electronic circuitry and special
mechanisms within the camera body.
Most DSLR lenses have functions that are controllable by the
camera body such as focusing, zooming and image
stabilization. This requires additional electronic circuitry and
special mechanisms within the camera body.
You might have wondered why these lenses are often long and
heavy if it's just a lens. Aside from the mechanical parts inside,
these lenses are actually composed of not just one but several
groups of lenses consisting of one or more high-quality lens
elements of different characteristics.
Like Sub-compacts, SLRs may be used with
Automatic, Semi-manual or fully manual
settings. The controls however, are more
specific and usually a bit more complex but
due to its more advanced computer
circuitry, it can respond quicker, and more
All these features of SLR cameras and lenses
make them heavy, large and expensive
and may not be ideal for day-to-day
activities. However, these features also
make SLRs the best camera for professionallevel photography, producing the best
possible pictures. These cameras are top on
the list for hobbyists, professional
photographers, and enthusiasts.