Cameras and photography have progressed greatly over the hundreds of years since the idea has been conceived. Recording something? Without drawing it? Unheard of! Witchcraft! The first “camera” was actually an attempt at tracing the light that reflects off things (which didn’t actually work). This was later followed up with cameras made completely out of shutters, then later enhanced by the usage of film. Since then, we now currently use simpler and more higher quality machines, allowing us to capture amazing stills and landscapes that were originally only painted.

Many, Many Camera Types

Everyone and their grandmother has probably used a camera of some kind at this point. Whether it was an old camera with printed film or a cellphone camera, the gist is generally the same. Times have changed and now there are about four main types of cameras, give or take a bit. We have DSLR, Point-And-Shoot, MILC, Camcorders, and cellphone cameras. Each one has its own set of pros and cons, and we’ll get to the bottom of this right this moment.

DSLRs, otherwise known as a Digital Single-Lens Reflex camera, is a camera that utilizes optics and a single lens with a digital imaging sensor, which allows the images to be digital, rather than using physical film. It receives its name from it’s reflex lens, which allows light to travel through the lens, then to a mirror (or prism) that decides whether to send the image through the viewfinder or it’s image sensor. Unlike other cameras, what sets it apart is it’s single lens- usually the view finder will have a lens for itself, whereas with DSLR it does not. Hence it’s name, it is digital and a single lens. Having the lens like this allows the user to look through the viewfinder and see the exact same image that is captured digitally when a photo is taken. In other camera’s designs, sometimes the viewfinder would have an absolutely different image than what was actually caught. These cameras have taken over, and have become the most common interchangeable lens as of 2017. Even filmographers who were fond of the SLR have migrated to DSLR. Luckily the two aren’t too different. It’s convenience, affordability, and popularity all are a cause for it’s rise in commonness.

SLR, the predecessor of DSLR was similar with it’s structure. It had the same reflex lens, utilized a prism or mirror, and allowed its user to look through the viewfinder and see the exact same thing that would be captured. The only difference is that SLRs are not digital, hence the lack of the D in the acronym. They were originally the most common before DSLR sprung up, but many people who are advanced and professional photographers still use SLR, and even some film based SLRs are still used by a niche little group of aficionados and film enthusiasts.

Both these cameras have interchangeable lenses, which can also be their downfall, depending upon the make and type of camera. Due to having lenses that can be removed or changed, the lenses may get dirty and switching out the lenses gives a chances for dirt or dust to get inside the camera, causing all sorts of issues for the mechanisms inside. One of the main issues that can be caused is that all that dirt can get stuck inside the shutter or even cause the sensor to stop working properly. This is sometimes prevented in DSLR, which some models or makes come with an internal sensor cleaner.

Point-and-Shoot cameras are usually considerably cheaper than DSLR because of their different set of abilities. Point-and-Shoot cameras are commonly very small and compact, you can fit them in your pocket if you wanted to carry it around that way. All Point-and-Shoots have one lens, non interchangeable, which luckily keeps the Point-and-Shoots insides cleaner than a DSLR will ever hope to be. A Point-and-Shoot also has a huge depth-of-field, which allows everything in the image, foreground or background to be incredibly sharp and crisp. This can be a double edged sword, though, as you cannot separate the foreground and background with a Point-and-Shoot.

Point-and-Shoots are handy to have, due to their small size and their cheap costs. Unfortunately, DSLR cameras can easily outpace them with it’s megapixel qualities and it’s ability to isolate the background and foreground from each other.

Camcorders are the film-focused cameras of the world. While powerful and helpful during filmography, they are also compared to DSLRs which may outpace them too in the near future. Camcorders main capabilities is to capture video and video alone, making them needed for most projects involving filmography. Since they are meant for recording video, they tend to be able to handle more than DSLR or any other type of camera. They have been used for a while in various medias, and they vary from being huge and bulky- requiring a shouldermount or even a stand, down to even being small and handheld. Even now, camcorders are advancing, and are becoming HD and even 3D, giving people more and more intense looking graphics. They are used all over by film-makers.

Finally, we have cellphone cameras, objectively the most common kind of camera. They are usually in every cellphone, which are equipped with a front facing camera and a back facing camera. These cameras are easy to have and to use, since you can just whip one out your pocket at any given time. Unfortunately, this compromise for accessibility (and the fact that your cellphone isn’t usually meant for just photography) comes at the cost of megapixels. Most smartphones have at maximum 5 megapixels, whereas the Apple phones can handle at max 8. Don’t doubt them though! They are amazingly handy for on the spot things where you may not have your camera, or maybe even just some more casual things. These are used by photographers that currently may not have their cameras on hand, just want a bit of fun, or want ease of access.

Cellphone cameras are easier to use for on the spot photos, but it’s recommended to upgrade to a DSLR or at least a Point-and-Shoot to get the best kind of photography.

drew-hays-29234.jpgPhoto by Drew Hays.

DSLR is Everywhere!

Since these cameras are so well used, they are also extremely versatile. DSLR cameras can be bought or added to via various accessories. DSLR cameras have the ability to be hooked up to with adapters and such, with things such as microphones, external flash units, tripods, grips, mounts, and remote shutter releases.

Microphones can be hooked into your DSLR to capture audio along with video. Meanwhile, tripods are used to steady the camera to get rid of wobbly video or scratchy audio, as well as being stable and allowing one to take the same photo multiple times. You can mount your DSLR camera on this in order to perform more stable tasks. External flash units can also be used to utilize flash, which can light up areas of a photo for a quick fix in lighting. Flash is handy indoors or at night for some interesting effects. Grips and mounts will help ease you physically and help you with keeping things steady and flowing. Think of a mount as a grip for your camera, meanwhile the grip assists you directly.

All these accessories work together to create better photography or video, meanwhile making things easier for the photographer who uses these things. Not only that, but it’d also be easier for any subjects that you are taking photos of!

Cameras have made great bounds since their first creation, and I for one am extremely glad that we get to work with surprisingly complex machines rather than having to trace light on a piece of paper to make a “photo”. With all it’s great leaps, there are many many more interesting people creating interesting photos, and we never realize how ingrained photography is within our lives. For something that is so around us, on billboards, signs, in magazines, it is something that is extremely complex and worth learning about.

Photo by William Bayreuther on Unsplash.