What Does DSLR and SLR Stand For?

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If you’re newer to the photography industry and looking for your first camera, you might have heard the terms DSLR and SLR used in reference to different cameras. So, what does DSLR and SLR stand for, and which type of camera is right for you?

What Does DSLR and SLR Stand For?

DSLR stands for digital single lens reflex while SLR stands for single lens reflex. SLR means you can view the image through the lens of the camera (through a mirror). The ‘digital’ in DSLR means that a digital copy of the image is saved on a memory card, rather than transferred to film on a SLR.

An image of DSLR

What Are DSLRs?

A DSLR is a camera with a digital sensor. This type of camera allows light to enter a single lens. The light then hits a mirror and is reflected upwards or downwards into the camera’s viewfinder.

DSLRs offer live view image viewing through an LCD screen. They use memory cards to store images, which allows you to take hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of images on a single card. This is a primary benefit to DLSR camera compared to using film on a SLR camera.

What Are SLRs?

An SLR also allows light to enter a single lens. Instead of recording photos on a memory card, SLR cameras use film, which is made from plastic and gelatin. This film is used to record pictures and later develop them through some processing using chemicals.

SLR cameras usually have a shutter speed upto 1/1000 seconds. These cameras have sleeker bodies, two tone colors, and no rear view screens or monitors.

What Are the Similarities Between DSLRs and SLRs?

There are several similarities between DSLRs and SLRS which include:

  • Technology: Both these cameras allow light to enter a single lens after which it is reflected into the cameras’ viewfinder.
  • Capturing Photos: Both these cameras allow you to view the scene before capturing the photo.

What Are the Differences Between DSLRs and SLRs?

The main difference between DSLRs and SLRs is the way they capture images. While one captures a digital form of an image, the other prints it on a film. Some differences include:

  • Storing Pictures: An SLR camera uses a film that is made up of gelatin and plastic to record the picture. On the other hand, a DSLR camera takes the picture digitally on a memory card.
  • Process: A DSLR uses a memory card to store all of its photos. This card is reusable and can be used to view pictures on the camera as well as print them. The SLR requires a roll of film which is then chemically developed to produce photos.
  • Shutter speed: While the shutter speed differs from camera to camera, SLRs generally have a shutter speed of up to 1/1000 seconds, while the DSLRs can go up to 1/8000 seconds.
  • Viewfinder: While both cameras mostly come with optical viewfinders that allow you to see the image before capturing it, however, Some DSLRs also come with an option of an LCD viewfinder that helps in situations such as underwater photography.
  • Complexity: While both these cameras are simple to use, DSLRs are relatively easier as they allow photographers to make mistakes without wasting any space on the memory card as pictures can simply be deleted. While on the SLRs you use up a part of the film every time you capture a photo, therefore, you have to be more careful.
An image of SLR

Related Questions

What Are the Benefits of Using a DSLR Camera?

DSLR cameras have quick autofocus. This helps you capture clear and smooth photos, especially for wildlife and sports photography. Moreover, DSLRs are sturdy and have a long battery life.

Are DSLRs Being Phased Out?

DSLRs are being phased out slowly. Most camera manufacturing companies have stopped producing DSLRs and have instead shifted their focus towards Mirrorless cameras. Sony has already gotten ahead in the manufacturing of Mirrorless cameras while both Canon and Nikon are soon to follow suit.

Recently, Canon confirmed that they will no longer be producing any new DSLRs after the current flagship releases. Similarly, Nikon too has decided to move towards Mirrorless cameras’ production.

Is SLR or DSLR Better?

A DSLR is a better camera because it gives you room to make mistakes. DSLRs have memory cards that can store thousands of images. If you do not like an image, you can simply delete it and make space for more. On the other hand, SLRs use a roll of film which finishes as you use it.

For SLRs, you need to buy new film as soon as your roll runs out. This means that you have to be more careful when you are capturing photos. Moreover, DSLRs give you a much faster shutter speed and better autofocus that SLRs cannot beat.


DSLR stands for digital single lens reflex, while SLR stands for single lens reflex. The major difference between the two is how they operate. DSLRs capture digital images on their memory cards, whereas SLRs capture images on film rolls that limit how much you can capture at one time.