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Benefits of DSLR Cameras vs others (& Why DSLRs are the BEST)

Let’s cut to the chase. A DSLR is a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera means it is a camera that uses a single lens (unlike the double lens cameras of yesteryears). Plus there is something inside it that reflects light internally. That something is a pentaprism (or pentamirror on some cheaper DSLRs). Unlike a film camera, it has a sensor inside it that acts as the image medium for recording the images.

But apart from these, there is nothing much that differentiates a DSLR with an SLR. Obviously, you have the technical advantages of shooting with modern digital technology, but some connoisseurs still prefer shooting the old way – the film way.

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Better response in low light conditions

night time over the River Usk by Richard lewis
night time over the River Usk by Richard lewis
  • So why do a large number of photographers, chiefly the professionals and enthusiasts prefer to shoot with a DSLR?
  • What’s the basic advantage with these cameras compared to say something like your iPhone?
  • They both shoot images, right? And they both have a great resolution? So what’s the deal?

The deal is that a DSLR benefits from a bigger sensor and that provides less susceptibility to noise than a small compact camera or your iPhone. Larger sensors collect more light, which means they respond better to low light conditions.

Honestly, I don’t have anything against an iPhone or for that matter any smartphone. I think they are great little toys. They are ideal when you want to make a quick snap. But when it comes to serious photography DSLRs leave them behind by many a mile.

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Instant review of their work

The reason why professional photographers prefer a DSLR to an SLR is definitely an instant review feature.

This single advantage allows them to make maximum utilization of the right setup, right light, and location to produce the greatest number of keepers. In the days of film photography, a photographer had to be careful before making each exposure. Not only did he had to ensure that the exposure is absolutely dead-on accurate but he had to nail the focus as well.

Once the exposure was made and he’d packed and left for home there would be no way to come back and redo the shoot if found out that the exposures did not turn out the way he’d hoped they would. What a considerable waste of time and money.

To avoid this, a photographer would take several shots, just to be sure. With the instant review, photographers can not only check the result at the back of the camera but with wireless as well as tethered shooting coming in he can also check the work on a computer at the location itself.

Ability to shoot in RAW and post-process the work later

With a DSLR they can shoot in RAW which gives them a huge number of editing options later on and therefore one of the many benefits of a DSLR camera.

With film photography, you are limited to a few very basic darkroom editing options only. RAW is an image format basically, wherein all the data that is collected by the image sensor is retained in an unprocessed and uncompressed format.

The advantages are incredible. With JPEG format you will never be able to make major corrections to your images because the format in itself is compressed and that results in a lot of data.

Landscape at Badulla by uditha wickramanayaka
Landscape at Badulla by uditha wickramanayaka

If you shoot in RAW+JPEG you will notice that the RAW images are a tag softer and the colors are a bit subdued when compared to the JPEG images. Taking this tag soft, unprocessed and uncompressed data you can use your own post-processing workflow, including Photoshop trickery, to enhance it. This is something shooting in JPEG will never allow you to do.

Speaking of post-processing you will not only be able to even out an exposure but also recover details from shadows. A JPEG image consists of about 8-bit of information. Comparatively, a RAW image has about 12 to 14 bit of information. That in itself should allow you to play around with a huge range of luminance levels, avoid posterization and in effect have more control over the histogram.

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Still, on the benefits of shooting in RAW, this format allows you to fine-tune white balance. White balance is a very sensitive aspect of photography, one that even professional photographers find difficult to manage. Most prefer to shoot with an 18% gray card and then adjust the white balance in post-processing. You will need to shoot in RAW to be able to do that.

Use a faster auto-focusing mechanism

Another benefit of a DSLR camera is that DSLRs primarily use the phase detection auto-focusing system.

Phase detection allows you to lock on focus very quickly using the dedicated phase detection sensors at the base of a camera. Light travels through the lens, bounces off the mirror. Some of it goes through and reflects off another mirror at the base of the camera and finally reaches an array of dedicated phase detection sensor.

Point & Shoot systems don’t have that advantage. They have what is known as contrast detect auto-focusing mechanism. It is a slower system. Off late, however, Mirrorless systems are closing this gap with on-sensor dual pixel phase detection systems.

Better collection of lenses

DSLRs are basically SLR cameras with a digital sensor and an LCD screen. Most of the camera makers have retained their popular lens mounts when launching their digital SLRs. This ensured that most of the same lenses were usable on newer digital cameras. Of course, newer and more

Of course, newer and more improved versions of these lenses have come up, but the fact that some of the older lenses are compatible means DSLRs have the largest collection of lenses ever.

So the ultimate benefit of DSLR cameras vs. mirrorless cameras is that DSLR cameras have a vast collection of lenses to choose from.


  • Rajib is an avid travel photographer and an overall shutterbug. He loves to test and review new photography gear. He has been writing about cameras and lenses for over 10 years now. You can consider him as your "master guide" here at PhotoWorkout.

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