SLR Vs DSLR Camera – Exploring the Pros and Cons

Photography will never be a lost skill, particularly with the latest systems and imaging technologies (from beginner compact models to upscale professional ones) that are rolled out each year. Although the never ending variety is heaven for photography enthusiasts, one can quickly get lost in the options. Not only this, amateurs are perplexed how to pick the suitable model. Stepping into the photography field is confusing because of this.

The two prominent terms in this realm are DSLR and SLR. These abbreviations stand for digital single lens reflex camera and single lens reflex camera. DSLR is obviously the popular one as tons of professionals opt for this model. However, SLR became an antique when the digital point-and-shoot became a revolutionizing hit. But fortunately, SLRs have made a comeback as aesthetic gadgets for professional and amateur shooters.

When it comes to the SLR Vs DSLR camera comparison, it is shocking how just one letter can make such a drastic difference. But simultaneously, it is surprising to see how similar they are even with the key differences. To view their comparison in detail, read this article till the end.

What is a DSLR?

This high-quality camera boasts all the advanced features and technology. It operates almost the same as SLRs. The model employs a mirror to reflect the light entering from the lens and directing to the optical viewfinder. Plus, DSLRs also offer a live digital view on the LCD display.

Furthermore, these cameras utilize interchange lenses. This means that the lens can be adjusted as per the shooting style. Plus, DSLRs employ a memory card for saving thousands of images. The majority of DSLRs are present in one shade with the addition of a monitor. You can record videos as well.

Components of a DSLR

There are many parts that go into the making of DSLR, but the following are the main components.


This is the part where users look through to stabilize their image.


This may be the most critical part of DSLRs. Light enters through the lens glass and initiates the picture process.


This component transformed the photography field. The main function of pentaprism is to shift the picture in the viewfinder from the lens. This is how the picture displays right side upwards instead of the inverted picture that first appears.

Reflex mirror

This is a rare part of DSLRs. Its main function is to reflex the incident light towards the optics in the upper camera.

Image sensor

This component changes the optical picture into an electric signal. Afterwards, it is delivered to the memory card.

Condenser lens

Its primary function is to focus the light on the subject.

Shutter button

The shutter release button is employed to snap the image.

Focus Ring

This is present on the lens and permits manual control of the gadget focus. Some models include an autofocus feature in addition to the focus ring.

What is an SLR?

This term stands for single lens reflex. According to a single lens, the picture can quickly be visible from the camera lens, while reflex means that it is visible from a mirror. SLR models include films on which the pictures are taken, and afterwards, they can be developed for making reality.

However, it is important to note that SLR films are only able to record a restricted amount of pictures simultaneously. And as for further pictures, users have to revert to film roll.

Components of an SLR

The SLRs have the following parts in their construction:


This component is utilized to view what you are shooting.

Battery cover

This is used to store the battery.

Shutter speed dial

This part displays the speed of which the shutter is close and open.

Depth of the field scale

This will notify you about the space or depth that will be in focus.

Tripod socket

This component is attached to the tripod.

Distance scale

This part tells the user at which point the lens is focused.

Shutter release button

This button is pressed to launch the shutter and snap a picture.

Exposure counter

This shows you the amount of pictures remaining.

Rewind knob

This part is employed to rewind the film roll in the canister.

Film advance lever

This component is utilized to rotate the film roll in the camera to capture another image.

Flash shoe

It is a mounting surface.

Rewind button

This part releases the film roll prior to rewinding the film roll in the canister.

Film speed dial

The dial represents the speed of the film.

Focus ring

This part adjusts the focus in the picture.

Pros and Cons of SLR Vs DSLR Camera


DSLRs have the following advantages:

  • It features a massive sensor size, which makes the pictures more sharp and clear as opposed to other models.
  • DSLRs boast a spare feature of features and filters. This makes the images pop out more.
  • The camera presents a high speed shooting mode. This mode offers live images to the user from the viewfinder.

But be aware of these downsides:

  • DSLRs are bulkier and larger than their rivals. This reduces their portability and makes them difficult to carry.
  • DSLRs are more expensive than the compact models.
  • Another consequence of DSLRs is how they are too complicated with shooting owing to their latest features. But this takes a learning curve.


Here are the perks of this model:

  • It adds an exposure counter that tells the remaining number of images
  • SLRs can frame up an image and give a precise focus.
  • A big assortment of lenses and accessories makes it a flexible system to operate.

And here are the downsides of owning a SLR:

  • First of all, SLRs are not digital and since most shooters are aware of the perks of using a digital camera, it is a major drawback.
  • The quality of images is almost identical to DSLR captured pictures. But SLR enthusiasts still prefer it because of a manual control.
  • SLR models are bulkier as opposed to digital cameras, particularly if you have to carry some extra flash, a film, and filters in your photography bag.
  • Capturing an ideal picture in a SLR means that you might have to change your filter and lens on a frequent basis. Amateurs should look for a modern compact model or a rangefinder.

Comparison Factors

We can compare SLRs and DSLRs with these aspects:


Both of the cameras take advantage of a single lens reflex innovation. This technology employs an inner reflex mirror which permits the shooter to view what the lens observes and will be snapped via the camera optical viewfinder.

But DSLRs come with a perk. For instance, some of its models guarantee live digital view from the back LCD display, similar to modern mirrorless cameras excluding optical viewfinder.

Both of these cameras reflect light which enters from the lens with a mirror. This enables an image to form in the viewfinder. But SLRs employ a film constructed by gelatin, plastic, or other material. However, DSLRs operate by capturing the picture digitally on a memory card.

Processing and Needed Materials

An SLR demands a film roll typically created by a plastic strip dotted with thin gelatin layers including silver halide crystals. These crystals initiate a chemical reaction to light in order to create an image. The chemical reaction has to occur in a lab and demands some hours to print. But unfortunately, this film roll can only store 36 images and is not reusable.

On the other hand, a DSLR needs a flat memory card to save all pictures in a digital format. The tiny card is able to save thousands of pictures. Photographers can remove an irrelevant picture immediately to create space for more. The reusable card allows pictures to be visible on your PC or camera. Plus, it can be printed instantly via an external printer.

Image Quality

Both of the cameras enable the user to focus and see the picture with the affixed lens. The earliest DSLRs were notorious for inferior image quality as compared to film SLRs. But progress in digital innovation, such as the amount of megapixels, has almost entirely eradicated this difference.


The shutter speed is a critical function of all cameras, which is based on the camera model. Plenty of latest DSLRs boast a shutter speed of 1/4000th of a second, whereas elite ones boast a shutter speed of 1/8000 and higher.

Beginner-level SLRs generally come with a shutter speed of 1-1/1000th of a second. For instance, the Konica Autoreflex TC showcases a speed of ⅛-1/1000.

Interchangeable Lens

Owing to their rare imaging innovation, these cameras employ interchangeable lenses. It means that shooters can outfit any of these cameras with lens options based on their particular capturing techniques and imaging preferences.


The two variants are similar in the aspect that they are laced with numerous settings which the shooter operates. This can be complex for amateurs to control. They also demand upkeep in protecting the sensor and lens against dust. A DSLR is more suitable for amateurs because it enables the shooter to preview a picture or snap numerous images.

It does so without wasting the film. Plus, they are also usually equipped with a few built-in settings for varying cases. Shooters can switch to the LCD viewfinder if they want.

Image Sensor

A prominent difference between SLR Vs DSLR camera is the sensor. The SLR cameras are basically diverse film or analog cameras. However, it got transformed into a DSLR. The “D” for digital got added after SLR models incorporated digital sensors.

Definitely, digital SLR models also employ memory cards to save thousands of pictures. On the other hand, SLR models snap a determined amount of pictures per film roll. But yes, the comparison of these cameras is not identical to the ancient heated debate of digital and film cameras.

Video Capability

This is another perk owing to the development of digital cameras. The majority of DSLRs can shoot videos. But useful film photography cameras, such as SLRs are unable to achieve this.

Optical Viewfinder

Both of these cameras utilize optical viewfinder to snap images. DSLRs also include LCD viewfinder, same as point-and-shoot digital models. This is helpful for cases when the optical viewfinder can’t be employed, such as underwater shooting.

Physical Characteristics

After the introduction of both SLR models with elegant and modern profiles, and DSLRs with vintage inspired aesthetic, it is now difficult to classify the models by their bodies alone.

But generally, DSLRs come with a monitor and have just one shade. On the other hand, SLRs are almost always bulkier because they have more metal in their construction. Plus, these models have no back monitor, 2-tone shades, and extra buttons.

Value for Money and Pricing

As there are presently more DSLRs in the market, these are more affordable and less expensive than SLRs. But if you prioritize value for money and pricing more than convenience, you should know that SLRs prove to be better investments since they do not have to be upgraded as compared to digital cameras. Moreover, SLRs, similar to the majority of film cameras, create precious collectibles which shooters sell to earn profit.

The price range of DSLR models varies from $500 to thousand dollars based on the standards. Not many film SLR models are present in the market. Plus, their price range varies from below $100 for a used standard model to $1000. But SLR models include the extra cost of film rolls.

Resolution and Quality

Typically, film cameras guarantee improved picture quality, especially when it comes to contrast, color, and dynamic range. Even the most modern digital models are unable to replicate how film snaps details.

And once you consider the different categories of analog and film sensors, especially in bigger format, SLRs are superior to plenty of DSLRs by beating their pixel resolution.

How Do I Pick My First Camera?

Picking your first-ever camera is a chance for amateurs to dig deeper in photography. This is why deciding on one model is a nerve-wracking decision. So first, ask yourself technical questions, like the following:

  • Do I want a compact or professional camera?
  • What does DSLR and SLR mean?
  • Should I buy an analog or digital camera?
  • What does a mirrorless camera mean?

Afterwards, study the functions of all camera parts and learn how these gadgets operate. Next, be ready to ask yourself another round of important questions, like:

  • What is my budget?
  • What type of photography niche do I want to engage with?
  • Will photography be my hobby or career?
  • Where can I showcase my images?

Making a plan will bring you closer to your present demands, your journey in this field, and the suitable offers in the market.

What is an Ideal Camera for Photography?

If you find yourself asking what mirrorless and SLR models are, it means you are currently hunting for an ideal camera for your photography genres. Although you can buy any model from the sea of cameras, if you want to pursue this skill professionally, buy an upscale one.

Some photographers debate that full-frame models are the finest due to their impeccable picture quality and big sensor. Other experts prefer cropped frame models since they are lighter, more diverse, and more affordable. However, all categories of professional models (mirrorless, full-frame, DSLR, or cropped frame), are capable of ensuring the quality you need.

But if you are considering panning, long exposure, underwater shooting, or macro focus, the variety of cameras become streamlined. The reason is because there is no flawless model. But you will definitely find one that supports your artistic vision.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why should I own a DSLR camera?

DSLRs are ideally fit for photography because they maximize resolution, clarity, and precision. Other models in the market are not able to compete with these results.

Is DSLR or SLR better?

Between SLR Vs DSLR camera, the latter is a better option because it offers a live preview. It also does not waste film roll if you mess up during shooting. Images can be quickly erased from the memory card.

How many types of cameras exist in the market?

Although the variety of cameras is diverse, the four prominent categories are bridge, DSLR, compact, and mirrorless cameras.

Final Words

Whatever model you go for, it all boils down to your shooting skills and personal needs. List down the factors that are the most important to you. For instance, you may consider budget and output.

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