Digital SLRs are a melting pot of modern and traditional technologies. Despite all the cutting-edge tech hidden within, their cosmetic design hasn’t changed dramatically since the days when film cameras ruled the roost, and the single lens reflex mechanism that gives SLR its name harks way back to 1884. It’s that delicate marriage of centuries-old engineering and the very latest digital technology which allows today’s SLRs capable to flatter even the most modest of photographic talents.
There’s a good reason why some things haven’t changed, though. The SLR mechanism might have its origins in the 1800s, but for those of us who still prefer viewfinders to digital displays, its ability to bounce light from the lens through a series of mirrors and direct into your eye still gives you the most direct view of the shot you’re about to take. SLRs also have decades of lens design to draw on, as they use the same lens mounts as film SLR cameras – even if you’ve been snapping photos since the days of film, you can get more out of your old SLR lenses with one of the latest models on the market.
Doesn’t spending more deliver better-quality photos?
Not necessarily. There’s not much to separate a £400 from a £1,000 SLR for image quality. The big jump comes when you move from cropped-sensor to full-frame SLRs.
These terms describe the size of the sensor that captures the image. A cropped SLR sensor measures around 24x15mm, which is equivalent to 23 smartphone camera sensors arranged in a grid. In a nutshell, that’s why their image quality is so much better. Full frame sensors are around 36x24mm, which is 58 times bigger than a smartphone’s sensor. These cameras cost from around £1,300.
The choice of lens can make more of a difference than choosing between a cropped and full-frame sensor. Even if you can afford to go full-frame, you will often get better results by going for a cropped-sensor camera and having more to spend on lenses.