Camera Basics

What is a SLR camera?

To put it simply, the SLR camera is, in essence, a housing on which one can set a wide range of objectives, adapted to any need and any budget.

It is generally distinguished by its image quality. Its viewfinder is equipped with a set of mirrors allowing the image you see there to be perfectly representative of the final result.

If they integrate an LCD screen, it is not to use it as a viewfinder, but only to navigate the menus and view your photos a posteriori. Nevertheless, more and more SLR cameras include a screen that also allows you to view the image in real time.

Although dark and heavy (especially because of their purpose), they are considered the Rolls of cameras, and still have many followers.

The SLR camera for beginners

Contrary to a widespread belief, SLR cameras are not absolutely out of reach of a beginner in photography.

True, they require more manipulation than a compact camera , but the result and intent differ greatly. The so-called “point and shoot” devices have their limits, while the SLR, for one, offers above all a greater freedom of use and more flexibility. Whether “difficult” or not will depend essentially on the fluidity of the interface.


Under the influence of smartphones, which compete in Mpx front and back, manufacturers often boast of having the most pixels. It’s a shame, because the professionals are unanimous: we do not care a bit!

Mpx do not define image quality (all DSLR sensors currently carry a sufficient number of Mpx for common use). On the other hand, the sensor and the level of ISO supported, they will have a great influence on the sharpness of the photo and the appearance of the grain.

The sensor

SLRs generally have a larger sensor than compacts, even though they compete with hybrids on this point. But a larger sensor means less noise and faster shooting. Clearly, a better picture.

Many entry-level SLRs come with an APS-C sensor, which is less expensive but also smaller and less sensitive to light. If you have the means, and compactness does not matter for you, prefer a device with a sensor “full frame” (or “full format”), with which the sensitivity and depth of field will normally be more high.

The objective

SLRs make it possible to change lenses and thus to control the depth of field. A simple compact has just one lens for all contexts, while the SLR pushes you to choose them according to the result you want. A true isolation of the background thus makes it possible to really put the subject in value.

The viewfinder

Finally, there is the issue of the electronic / optical viewfinder. Hybrids stand out from SLRs in that they have an EVF: an electronic viewfinder. SLRs use mirrors, so you can see what you are shooting directly through the lens.

Suddenly, you see in your viewfinder as through your eyes, and not the result that will give the photograph. The main advantage is that it avoids the problem of latency between the lens and the screen, which can be awkward to target a moving subject. But the disadvantage is that you do not see the final result, it may be necessary to retouch if you do not yet master your SLR (indeed, the eye is much better suited to great contrasts that the camera , which will block shadows or overexpose whites)

The stabilizer

If you want to prevent your photos from being blurred, it is better to opt for a device incorporating an effective stabilization system.

On this principle, two major schools compete in the field of SLR: those who integrate this stabilizer in their objective so that it is perfectly suited to it (Canon, Nikon) and those who integrate it into the device itself (Pentax). This is partly what can explain the price difference between the goals of some brands.


It is well known, what makes the particularity of the SLRs, it is the multiple settings that they propose (opening of the diaphragm, shutter speed, white balance, sensitivity, etc.). Of course, it is necessary to master them to perfection for a successful rendering (although all SLRs also have an automatic or semi-automatic mode, which can simplify your life from time to time). But this can only be possible if all the settings are intuitive and, above all, easily accessible, coming naturally to lodge under the fingers.