This is an interchangeable lens camera where you see an optical image of what the lens sees in the viewfinder. They do this using a mirror inside the body that reflects the image seen by the lens up into the viewfinder. When you take a picture, the mirror flips up out of the way so […]
Camera types explained
Digital cameras come in a multitude of different types and sizes, and some of the jargon can be quite unhelpful. For example, 'compact' cameras aren't necessarily compact and the real difference is that they have non-removable lenses. DSLRs and CSCs are both examples of interchangeable lens cameras, or ILCs, and these are differentiated by their design, sensor size and intended market. Most novices start off with a compact camera, move up to a DSLR or CSC when they become enthusiasts and then upgrade to a full-frame or medium format camera if they turn professional.
See below to find out more about specific camera types.
This is fully immersive video that’s been shot with a 360-degree video camera. The video footage extends in a full circle around the camera position, which is usually stationary but could also be mounted on a skydiver’s helmet, for example. There are two ways of working with and watching 360-degree video. One is to use […]
Digital cameras come in a multitude of different types and sizes, and some of the jargon can be quite unhelpful. For example, ‘compact’ cameras aren’t necessarily compact and the real difference is that they have non-removable lenses. DSLRs and CSCs are both examples of interchangeable lens cameras, or ILCs, and these are differentiated by their […]
‘Alpha’ is the generic brand name used by Sony for its interchangeable lens cameras. This can be confusing because Sony makes cameras in two types – SLT (single lens translucent) and mirrorless models. Both are Alphas, but the Alpha A9 (mirrorless) and Alpha A99 II (SLT) are entirely different cameras with different lens mounts and […]
SLT cameras are made by Sony as a kind of hybrid of the regular digital SLR design and the always-on live view of a mirrorless camera. They do have a mirror in the body, but it doesn’t flip up and down when you fire the shutter. Instead, it has a translucent surface so that the […]
This is a sensor and lens format used by Olympus and Panasonic for their mirrorless camera ranges. The MFT sensor measures 17.3 x 13.0mm, so it’s smaller than the APS-C sensors used in rival mirrorless cameras. This does have a modest effect on overall image quality, but the payback is the both MFT cameras and […]
A made-up word to describe somebody mid-way between an amateur photographer (consumer) and professional (prosumer). A ‘prosumer’ has typically gone beyond snapshot photography has become interested in photography as a hobby or ultimately a profession, and has a certain amount of technical knowledge.
A more advanced version of a point and shoot camera with a much longer zoom range and, sometimes, more advanced photographic controls. The 20x or 30x zoom range makes these cameras much more versatile, but they use small sensors so the picture quality is limited.
Many smartphones have pretty good cameras. The best ones have sensors about the same size as those in point and shoot cameras and fixed focal length lenses. The lack of a zoom is a restriction, but otherwise the quality is just as good. There’s even a growing art movement around mobile photography.
An older camera designed still used by celebrated German manufacturer Leica. The ‘rangefinder’ is used for focusing – as you turn the focus ring on the lens, a small mirror in the top of the camera rotates to line up a ‘ghost’ image with the main image in the viewfinder. When this ghost image lines […]
It’s about the easiest way of describing simple digital cameras that are inexpensive and designed for novices. They offer fully-automatic shooting modes that don’t require any particular photographic know-how and zoom lenses which cover most everyday needs. They quality is only average, though, and there’s little scope for overriding the camera.
A relatively recent design that takes interchangeable lenses, just like a DSLR, but doesn’t use in internal mirror for its viewing system –if you take off the lens you see the sensor itself. Mirrorless cameras allow a shorter lens-to-sensor distance and full time live view.
Professional cameras that use sensors larger than full frame. These fill the space previously occupied by 120 roll film cameras, though they are massively more expensive. ‘Medium format’ sounds like there should be a larger size still, but it harks back to the days of film when you could get large format 5×4” or 10×8” […]
The iPhone comes in two sizes – standard and ‘Plus’ – and the iPhone 7 Plus has two cameras, one with a regular 28mm equivalent wideangle lens and the other with a 56mm equivalent lens. It uses both in combination with ‘computational imaging’ to offer a continuous zoom feature and a ‘portrait’ mode which adds […]
Any camera where you can change lenses. Once, this was just DSLRs, but now mirrorless cameras are included in this category and, for the sake of argument, Leica’s ‘rangefinder’ cameras should be included too. ILC is not a widely used term but it is the most correct description.
More advanced type of compact camera which attempts to match the controls and features of a digital SLR or mirrorless camera but in a smaller body. High-end compacts have larger sensors than regular point-and-shoot models and better lenses with wider maximum apertures.
One of the best known brands of action camera. GoPro has made its name through the activities of high-profile adventure sports personalities and even TV production companies. The cameras are small, square and tough and at the centre of a large range of camera mounts, supports, gimbals and other accessories.
Another name for ‘mirrorless’ cameras and used to distinguish them from digital SLRs. They are ‘system’ cameras in that they take interchangeable lenses and accessories – just like a digital SLR. However, they don’t have a DSLR’s mirror mechanism, and this ‘mirrorless’ design makes them more compact.
You might imagine that this refers to smaller, pocket-sized cameras but the definition is a little wider than that and includes any camera with a fixed (non-interchangeable) lens. ‘Compact cameras’ include regular point-and-shoot compact cameras, high-end compacts, bridge cameras
This is a compact camera with an extremely long zoom range, sometimes as much as 50x, 60x or more, and designed to act as a ‘bridge’ between regular compact digital cameras and digital SLRs. The lens can’t be swapped, though, and bridge cameras (mostly) have small sensors, which restricts the picture quality.