DSLR Cameras

Buying Gear

What is a DSLR camera?

The term "digital single-lens reflex camera" (also known as "digital SLR" or "DSLR") refers to a type of digital camera that combines a digital imaging sensor with the optics and mechanisms of a single-lens reflex camera.

An example of a DSLR camera

In the reflex design, light travels through the lens and then to a mirror that alternates to send the image to either a prism, which shows the image in the viewfinder, or the image sensor when the shutter release button is pressed.

Internal structure of a DSLR camera (Source: Studiobinder)

Identifying the buttons

Top view of a DSLR Camera (Source: Canon basic DSLR photography workshop)

Mode Dial

It is a small cogwheel located on the top-right of the camera that switches between the camera's modes. Eg Manual mode, automatic mode etc

Main Dial

Is a cogwheel on the front of the camera that allows you to change the aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, and other settings. Though not present in all cameras.

Shutter Button

It is usually a large button along the top of the camera, near your right index finger when holding the camera. It is the button that you press to take a picture.

Built-in Flash

It is a flash unit built into the main camera body. They are typically unidirectional.

Flash Sync Contact

This is the contact where the flash is electrically connected to the camera

Power Switch

Power Switch turns the camera off and on


The ISO setting controls how sensitive your camera is to light.

Rear view of a DSLR camera ( Source: Canon basic DSLR photography workshop)

Playback Button

This enables you to review images (and videos) on the LCD screen.

Menu Button

It allows you to access the extensive range of settings found on the majority of digital cameras.

LCD Monitor

Is used to frame your shot, view menus and camera settings, and replay captured photos and videos (when using Live View).

Info Button

It can be used to display camera settings on the rear monitor, access additional information, and on some cameras, guide modes.

Erase Button

This button is typically denoted by a trashcan icon. It can be used to delete one or more photos.

Exposure Compensation

This button usually has a "+" and a "-" on it. You can use it to manually set the exposure for the photo

Cross Keys Button

This allow you to switch back and forth between images and videos

Magnify Button

This is used to magnify an image while it is being played back, allowing you to see more detail of the photo taken.

Quick Control Button

This button allows for quick setting changes.

Movie Shooting Button

This is a short cut that enables you to start recording movie .

AE Lock / FE Lock Button

is a simple feature that allows you to lock your camera's lens focus while shooting.

Front view of a DSLR camera ( Source: Canon basic DSLR photography workshop)

Remote Control Sensor

It is a sensor on the body of the camera that senses a remote control device that is typically used to trigger the camera in order to avoid camera shake during long exposures.


It is a piece of hardware inside a camera that captures light and converts it into signals to produce an image.

Self Timer

It is a camera feature that adds a delay between pressing the shutter release and the shutter firing.

Lens Release Button

It allows the photographer to unlock the lens from the camera body.

Lens Mount

Is tool that make it possible to secure a lens to a camera body.

Body Cap

The Camera Body Cap, a black plastic cap that twists onto the lens mount of the camera body, shields the sensor and interior of the camera from dirt and other foreign objects.


Is a ridge on the right side of the camera that makes holding the camera more comfortable.

Advantages of a DSLR Camera

Image quality

DSLR cameras produce great image quality, thanks to high megapixel counts and large sensors.

Flexibility and customization

DSLRs are very flexible cameras with tons of customisable buttons to control each aspect of the camera

Optical viewfinder

Instead of relying on a digital LCD monitor, the optical viewfinder allows you to see directly through the lens as you frame your shot.

Interchangeable lenses

With DSLRs, you have unlimited possibilities by being able to change lenses. 

Good low-light capability

DSLR cameras handle low light very well. This is as a result of the high megapixel counts,  larger sensors and the ability to change into a lens with a large aperture are responsible for this.

Long battery life

The batteries of DSLRs generally last longer than that of other cameras.

Durable build

DSLRs are typically built to withstand terrible weather, rough terrains and handling and other elements.

Comfortable handling

Due to the size of DSLRs, photographers with larger hands will have a good experience handling DSLRs

Disdvantages of a DSLR Camera


DSLRs are typically bigger, heavier and bulkier when compared to other cameras. As a result, they are not the lightest or the most convenient things to carry around. And after extensive use, the back and necks definitely suffer from such cameras.


Thanks to higher quality sensors , higher megapixels, other inner components and features, DSLRs tend to be quite expensive. Also, after purchasing a DSLR  body, you will need to invest more money in additional accessories like lenses, speedlights and additional camera components.

Learning curve

A beginner would need some training to get familiar with all the buttons and features of DSLRs.