What is a DSLR?

There’s lots of fancy abbreviations in photography and they can be confusing. You can sometimes feel like you’re reading another language! So while weighing up the pros and cons of DSLR’s which I am doing at the moment. I thought it may be a good idea to start at the beginning and look at what one really is.

What is a DSLR

DSLR – stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex.

It means the camera shows you exactly what the lens is seeing through the viewfinder by using a mirror. And not off set like many point and shoots which can cause heads and arms etc to get chopped off. So what you see is what you get. Take a look at the Wiki definition for more technical information on the mirror system.

DSLR’s are the same as an SLR, but instead of using film to capture the image as the SLR does, the DSLR uses a digital sensor. Some SLR lens will fit their DSLR equivalents, and if not you may be able to get an adapter so they can fit.

Since coming out there are now loads of models from all manufacturers. And they cover every ability from entry level models right up to professional level. So there’s something for everyone when choosing a DSLR.

There are a lot of options with a DSLR:

  • you can change lens
  • you can add an external flash
  • have manual control over the manual settings eg aperture, ISO and shutter settings
  • they give high quality photographs (more megapixels and larger sensors).
  • you can try different types of photography eg. macro, long exposure
  • there are lots of lenses to choose from


  • they can be large
  • you can end up with a lot of gear to carry around eg lenses, tripod, etc
  • they are heavy


Overall though I think they are a great camera. I use them. And they’re what I would recommend if you want to take your photography to the next step. As they’re a great way to learn more about photography and lenses. And also give you a lot of creativity to try new things and see what you really enjoy to do.

This is also the start of a series on photographic abbreviations and what they mean, in an easy to understand way.

Are there any abbreviations that you struggle to understand? Just add them in the comments below and I’ll write a post on them.


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