DSLR Full Form is Digital Single-lens Reflex Camera. DSLR refers to a digital camera in which the direct light from the lens to viewfinder are done using mirrors. The viewfinder is the hole or the place where you look into, to take the picture. The basic difference between other digital cameras and DSLR is that the DSLR camera has just a single lens for taking the picture and viewing. Whereas; a general camera has two lenses. The image quality offered by DSLR is extremely good despite the light available outside. The main reason for this is the lens that improves the quality of an image by creating exposure for the image sensor.
DSLR differs from a normal camera in its basic construction and is quite heavy and looks bulkier than other cameras. One of the greatest achievements of technology is giving humans the ability to capture memories to cherish them later. Earlier, the only place where memories could remain was our brain. However, as times pass by, our memories become faint and unclear and it becomes difficult to appreciate to the fullest the value of memories.
You may recall them vaguely but you can never remember them completely. Like how one looked at that day, how fun loving people were back then, what happened to someone’s birthday, etc. all of this could not have been possibly captured when a camera was an impossible dream. However, humans are known to doing miracles and they had achieved another miracle when the camera was first invented.
The camera is not merely an engineered instrument but a gift. People do not anymore cherish the possession of a camera with them because it is ubiquitous. Everyone knows about it; everyone possesses it but if you ask our older generation about the value of cameras during their prime time, they will narrate to you a completely new experience, something which you might find difficult to accept.
To them, the camera was a privileged treat that only elite enjoyed. Very few people owned cameras for personal use while others would occasionally go to photo studios to get one picture clicked. They would often dress up in fancy or formal attire and sashay them in front of the big camera. All of this for just one picture.
Time has of course changed and the value appended to cameras is no longer the same. Humans have been striving for greater advancements in technology and are producing amazing gadgets every year to gear up the digital revolution. Now we usually go for mobile phones with high-resolution cameras or DSLR. As of 2014, the DSLR are the most commonly used interchangeable lens camera.
DSLR Full Form – Additional Information
DSLR, or properly known as Digital Single-lens Reflex Camera or Digital SLR, is the now trending digital camera that functions on the combination of a single lens reflex camera and a digital imaging sensor. The mechanism it uses is very different from what is used in a photographic film. This reflex design in these cameras is the key distinguishing feature.
There are many amazing facts about DSLR that makes it a much-preferred camera for not only professionals but also common public. Thus, we shall discuss some of the many aspects of a DSLR camera, which will enlighten the readers about its mechanics and current status. Some of the facts about DSLR are as follows:
The Design used in the DSLR cameras
The reflex design scheme is the key feature in the DSLR design. In such scheme, light travels through the camera lens, which then travels to a mirror that directs the image to either the viewfinder or the image sensor. This last process happens alternatively. The camera uses a single lens by which the viewfinder is able to produce an image that is not apparently different from what is produced in the image sensor.
Let us discuss further on its design. As mentioned earlier, the camera uses an interchangeable lens and has a lens mount attached. There is a mobile mechanical mirror system that is placed exactly at the angle of 45 degrees that causes the direction of the light over a focusing screen by means of a condenser lens and a pentaprism. The light is directed to an optical viewfinder. The focusing feature of the camera can be manually or automatically activated. Some of the additional features in a DSLR camera are an amplifier, analog to digital converter, image processor, electronic display, storage functions, etc.
This is an eye-catching feature incorporated in all DSLR cameras that has significantly contributed to the popularity of the camera. Generally, all DSLR cameras make use of the popular Phase-detection autofocus feature, which is a method of allowing the adjustment of an optimal lens according to manual calculation rather than automatic calculation. It would be different from an autofocus premised upon contrast maximization. What is advantageous about this kind of autofocus is that it is quicker than other kinds of autofocus techniques.
Historical facts around the DSLR
We should have discussed it first but nevertheless, here we are with the most preliminary aspect of DSLR. Considering the amazing abilities of DSLR, it would be interesting to note down some of its historical facts that have helped in shaping its present and future.
Way back in the year 1969, the world witnessed the invention of the first imaging technology that eventually paved the way for digital photography. William S. Boyle and George E. Smith were the inventors of this technology that was termed as Charge Coupled Device (CCD), It was developed with the help of an image sensor. For the invention of this technology, the two inventors were awarded prestigious Nobel Prize for Physics in the year 2009.
The first digital camera was invented in the year 1975. The camera was invented by a Kodak engineer Steven Sasson and it was the first still digital camera, which had used a Fairchild 100×100 pixel CCD. Sony, on August 25, 1981, came up with the world’s first analog electronic camera that used an interchangeable lens and an SLR viewfinder.
In the year 1987, a breakthrough addition to the camera technology happened as the Kodak Research Labs came with an integration of 1.3 MP image sensor and a film SLR camera. The mechanism was restructured in 1988 and then, the restructured version eventually paved a way for the world’s first commercial DSLR camera in the year 1991. It was launched by Kodak.
What followed is known to everyone. Many companies came up with their own, different versions on DSLR, offering distinct features and performance promises. Companies like Canon, Fujifilm, Minolta, Pentax, Olympus, Panasonic, Samsung, Sigma, etc became to be known as prominent manufacturers of DSLR cameras. The rise in competitors has caused the immense development of the DSLR technology with a focus on high-speed focus, touch screen, higher frame rates, etc.
Market share of DSLR cameras
Judging by the rise in popularity of these cameras, it would reasonable to expect a high market share. Currently, the DSLR market is majorly controlled by the Japanese manufacturers: Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, and Olympus. The top five manufacturers of DLSR cameras are Japanese, followed by other manufacturers such as Mamiya, Sigma, Leica, Hasselblad, etc.
In a major feat, Canon overtook Nikon with about 41% global sales as compared to 40% sales of the latter in the year 2007. Following the competition were Sony and Olympus, with 6% market share each. However, Canon’s feat did not affect Nikon’s stronghold in the domestic market, as the latter had recorded 43.3 % sales as compared to the former’s 39.9% sales.
In the following year, Canon went on to dominate the global market, with 44.5 % market share, followed by Nikon with the reduced market share of 29.8 %. Sony stood with 11.9% market share.
Despite the growing popularity, the sales are relatively low in the previous two-three years. Before 2013, the global market witnessed double-digit growth but after 2013, the sales have gone down 15%. Many believe that it is due to the rise of smartphones.
Present day DSLR models
Despite the slowdown in the sales of DSLR market, these cameras are still popular among professionals and common public. Since there has been a marked increase in photography, many camera manufacturers have designed the cameras to meet with photography needs. Mainstream DLSR cameras are created by mainstream companies Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and Sigma. These DSLRs are cheaper and are popular among general masses.
Expensive versions of DSLRs are produced by companies like Pentax, Phase one, Hasselblad, and Mamiya Leaf. These companies manufacture high-end medium format cameras and some even provide detachable sensor backs. Companies like Samsung, Contax, Olympus, Panasonic, Fujifilm, etc used to produce DSLRs but have switched to other markets. Some of the popular DSLRs are EOS 5D Mark II, K-3 II, K-S2, K-S1, Canon EOS 1200/rebel T5, 100D/SL1, etc. many of these versions of DSLRs use different technologies and therefore, offer distinct features.
Performance of the DSLR cameras as compared to other digital cameras
There are reasons why DSLR cameras are preferred over other digital cameras. Some of the biggest advantages of DSLR are the larger size of an image sensor, production of high quality of images, and production of lesser noise. Moreover, these cameras are equipped to provide better responsive facilities by means of reduced shutter lag, improved autofocus mechanism, and higher frame rates. Unlike other digital cameras that often do not have an optical viewfinder, causing poor quality of images, DSLRs are specifically beneficial in many ways.
DSLRs are able to produce high-quality images of moving situations or objects. These cameras are able to quickly capture images, unlike other digital cameras. These cameras ensure that the photographer has full control over the camera’s functions and has the options to attach accessories to the cameras for better viewing and production. Some of these additional accessories are flash units, battery grips, light meters, etc. DSLRs have the capability to provide larger focal length, which facilitates utmost utilization of the depth of field effects. Overall, the DSLRs fare better on the performance index than other digital cameras and thus, the former are a preferred choice.
The interchangeability of lens as a distinguishing feature in DSLR
One important feature of DSLRs, which is also a distinguishing feature at the same time, is the feature of interchangeability of lens. This feature is usually missing in ordinary cameras instead they are equipped with a zoom lens that covers the view. The issue with the non-interchangeable lens is that they have restricted focal length. Many of the manufacturers have now switched to superzooms to avoid this issue.
For quite a long time, interchangeability of lens was a feature peculiar to DSLRs however, in the year 2008 the Micro Four Thirds System was introduced by the companies Olympus and Panasonic that led to the development of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras and hence, the peculiar feature of DSLR no longer remained peculiar. Cameras for the Micro Four Thirds System do have mirror and pentaprism.
The only problem with the interchangeable lens in any camera, including a DSLR, is that it is susceptible to dust. Whenever a lens is changed, it is exposed to dust particles that cannot be removed. Although there are dust reduction systems available nowadays, these systems do not completely remove the dust particles from the lens. On the other side, cameras with fixed lens are not generally vulnerable to dust particles from the outside. Because of the interchangeability feature, DSLRs cost more and are heavier and larger.
Live Preview in DSLRs
Another brilliant feature one can find in DSLRs is Live Preview feature. The initial versions of DSLRs could not produce on the LCD display the image on the optical viewfinder (this ability is called Live Preview) but latest developments have done away with this problem. Now DSLRs are able to exhibit Live Preview features.
What is a Live preview? Well, the Live preview is basically a characteristic that facilitates the use of the display screen of a digital camera to be used as a viewfinder. This allows previewing framing and other necessary exposures before the picture is taken. Live preview is useful in situations where camera’s viewfinder cannot be utilized, for example, in underwater photography because in this case a plastic waterproof case covers the camera.
The first DSLR with the feature of the Live preview was launched by Olympus in the year 2008. The name of the product was Olympus E-10, which had a fixed lens design. Then, soon after other companies like Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, and Leica introduced this feature. Fujifilm manufactured FinePix S5 Pro that allows live preview for a short span of 30 seconds.
In almost every DSLR with live preview feature, the Phase Detection Autofocus System does not function when the camera is in live preview mode. The camera switches to a different but slower contrast system. Canon came up with a more advanced version of DLSR with the live preview feature. The company introduced hybrid autofocus technology that allows pixels to behave as both contrast detection and phase detection. This addition improves the quality of autofocus detection during live preview mode. This version was called “Dual Pixel CMOS AF”.
Dust Reduction Systems in DSLR
In the previous segment relating to the interchangeability of lens, the issue of dust problems was mentioned. It was also mentioned that there are certain dust reduction systems developed to deal with this problem.
There are basically 2 types of dust particles that greatly affect the quality of the image produced by the cameras. One kind is called Dust Particles “adhering through electrostatic charges” and the other kind is known as Dust particles adhering “through intermolecular force”.
The former kind refers to dust matters that are very small, in fact, it can be even one micrometer. These particles are positively charged whereas the image sensor can be negatively charged, that causes attraction. On the other hand, the latter side refers to the intermolecular force, though weak, that attracts very small microscopic sized particles.
Dust reduction method is a mechanism to prevent dust from entering into the lens area. There is a filter called “dust cover” that is located at the back of the lens mount. This kind of dust reduction system was used by the company Sigma in its firs DSLR named the Sigma SD9 in the year 2002.
Soon after many advanced versions of dust reduction systems have emerged. Take, for example, the company Olympus used the built-in mechanism, which acted as sensor mechanism in the first DSLR it manufactured. The name of the camera model was Olympus E-1 and was launched in the year 2003.
High Definition (HD) video capture
Many DSLRs are designed to capture high-definition videos. Such DSLRs are known as HDSLR or DSLR video shooter. Nikon D90 was the first DSLR with the feature of high definition video capture. The quality of the video was 720p24.
The HDSLR make use of full image area to capture high definition videos, but not all pixels produce high definition quality. The use of larger sensor results in different image features. The cameras also have the ability to give the superior quality of low-light performance. However, there are certain shortcomings in HDSLRs as it falls short of many important features as in standard cam recorders.
Nowadays, DSLR comes up with better video quality. There is higher video resolution, video bitrate, greater autofocus, specifications, Blu-ray disc portability, etc. The first cameras to produce 1080p24 quality video were the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the Panasonic Lumix GH1.
As more and more up gradation is happening, the DSLRs are becoming popular in the field of filmmaking. They are particularly popular among independent filmmakers. Many films, advertisements, documentaries have made use of the HDSLRs, which show how much improvements have been made in the high definition technology in DSLR cameras. Take, for example, the blockbuster movie The Avengers that used Canon EOS 5D Mark II and two Canon 7D to capture complex scenes from various angles. Also, the Canon’s advertisements on Rebel T1i were shot using the Rebel T1i itself.