Digital imaging technology has improved dramatically over the past few years. Previously, all serious photographers agreed that Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLRs) could not produce the same quality and precision as conventional Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras on a dollar-for-dollar basis. ie. a $1,000 SLR camera would be far superior to a $1,000 DSLR camera.
Recently, the technology has evolved to such an extent that Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras are a great alternative for serious amateurs or professionals. You actually now get more 'bang for your buck' in that optically the lenses are equivalent and as there are less moving parts in digital cameras, you are sure to get fewer problems.
DSLR cameras have a different imaging mechanism. Whilst the viewfinder is similar to traditional cameras (optical viewfinder with shuttered mirror), exposure is completely different. Standard SLR cameras rely on mechanical or electric shutters which only allow light in during the exposure cycle, DSLR cameras use a light-sensitive sensor to capture the image. Light actually comes in all the time, but the sensor only becomes 'active' during the exposure cycle.
Most digital cameras have a LCD on the back of the camera to activate of change the camera's settings or features. You can now also use the LCD to compose the shots. Non digital cameras don't have a LCD and you will need to use the optical viewfinder to compose the photograph.
In summary, gives the best of both worlds. All the features of SLR photography, which made it so popular such as precision imaging and the ability to interchange lenses. Plus additional benefits only available on digital cameras such as immediate viewing of photographs and the ability to capture literally thousands of photographs without 'changing spools'.
That said, Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras may not be for you. These are the key questions you should ask yourself before purchasing a DSLR:
* How much can I afford to spend? It?s true that Digital cameras offer good value, but as everyone is making the switch to digital, you can usually find excellent traditional SLR cameras auctioned off on ebay for a fraction of their true value.
* Do I really need digital technology? The key benefit of digital technology is the ability to immediately see your photo. This is important if you're are a freelance news photographer, but not that relevant if you specialize in still-life shots in a studio setting
* Do I really need interchangable lenses. If not, consider a high quality non-reflex digital camera. These cameras offer all the digital advantages but come without the high price tag.