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Major Types of Cameras - SLR and Point and Shoot Cameras

An Introduction to the Two Main Types of Cameras Available Today


Point and Shoot

Point and shoot cameras mean just that, point the camera at something and trip the shutter. The camera does all the work for you. Unfortunately, the camera is rarely as smart as the photographer so the results can be iffy. Point and shoot cameras are often abbreviated as P&S. These cameras started out as a fixed lens that focused about 4 feet in front of the camera with a fixed aperture and shutter speed. It was basically a box with a shutter. Then the lab that developed the film did what it could to fix the exposure. Today's P&S cameras are much more sophisticated. While there are still some P&S film cameras, such as the disposable or one time use cameras, most P&S today are digital.

  • Metering systems, which calculate the amount of light entering the camera
  • Variable shutter speed
  • Variable aperture
  • Zoom lenses
  • Automatic focus
  • Preset controls for various photographic situations such as:
    • landscapes
    • nighttime
    • people
    • close-up or macro
The biggest drawback to P&S cameras is that many do not have a through the lens (TTL) viewfinder. This means that what you see through your viewfinder may not be what you capture on film or digital media. P&S cameras are usually small and fit into a pocket or purse. They are best used for casual picture taking where capturing the memory is more important than creating a marketable image.

Popular P&S Cameras


SLR stands for Single Lens Reflex and DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex and refers to how the light enters the camera. These are the cameras you see many professionals and serious amateurs lugging around. These cameras have a larger body than most P&S cameras and interchangeable lenses. While SLRs started out a fully manual, where the photographer had to control all features including focus, most of these cameras are capable of acting in a fully automatic mode just like a P&S. Many now allow the photographer the freedom to also take control of all functions or any combination of functions. These cameras allow for great control over the photography process and allow the photographer to take images not always possible with a P&S.

SLRs and DSLRs allow for control over:
  • shutter speed
  • aperture
  • film speed
  • focus point
  • magnification (through the use of various lenses)
  • capability for add-on flashes
  • remote releases
  • additional battery packs

Popular DSLR Cameras
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