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Your epic photos start with the right DSLR camera body

Single lens reflex (SLR) film cameras were critical to the progression of both professional and consumer photography. Since then, Digital SLRs, or DSLRs, have taken over, allowing serious amateurs and photo enthusiasts to capture high quality photos.

The body and lens are two parts of the equation. A DSLR camera body can work with a multitude of compatible lenses that differ in focal range and aperture. That gives you real flexibility to pursue the kind of photography you want by choosing a particular lens to work with your camera body.

Why Are DSLR Cameras Body-Only?

The body is the part of a DSLR camera that houses all the major components to operate it when shooting photos. That includes the image sensor, shutter, LCD screen, battery, connecting ports and various other controls. It’s the part of the camera you hold in your hand, with contoured and rubberized designs to help maintain comfort when shooting.

DSLRs are capable of working with different lenses, provided they are of the correct mount type, usually denoted by a lettered designation. For that reason, some DSLRs will come as “body-only” in that they do not come with a lens out of the box. That affords you the freedom to decide which lens you want to purchase separately.

You may also already own lenses that are compatible with the DSLR camera body. That means you can upgrade the body, yet still hang onto the lenses and avoid having to replace those too. This is often the case with cameras from noted brands, like Nikon, Canon and Sony.

How Do DSLR Cameras Work?

DSLRs are built with similar functionality to older film SLR cameras. The major differences are an image sensor instead of film, and a screen with a variety of digital controls to help capture the photos and video you want. But it goes even further than that when you factor in the ability to shoot in a variety of different modes and settings.

The mechanics inside are mostly the same, except it’s not analog like it would be with a film-based camera. Light passes through the lens, hitting the reflex mirror inside. Press the shutter and the mirror flips to expose the light to the image sensor, which then digitally produces the photo you see by measuring colour and brightness and breaking it all down to millions of pixels.

That allows DSLR cameras to shoot with different modes and settings, as well as capture video footage. Shooting photos in a burst makes it easier to freeze faster movement frame by frame. The faster the sensor and memory card, the more you can catch in a burst shot.

All photos are saved to a memory card slotted into the camera. Some DSLRs may have dual card slots — one for slower cards, another for faster ones. Card formats may also vary, though SDXC is the most common, and XQD as the fastest currently available.

What Makes a DSLR Camera Body Different?

Like other cameras, no two DSLR camera bodies are the same. That goes for both the aesthetics and form factor, plus the components inside. The reflex mirror inside allows the image peering through the lens to appear through the viewfinder optically when you put your eye to it.

Mirrorless camera bodies, including those with full-frame image sensors, are usually smaller and lighter in stature because they don’t have the reflex mirror inside. Losing the mirror also means there is either no viewfinder or an electronic alternative where a small screen displays the image the image sensor sees.

DSLR camera bodies are often designed with more physical buttons and controls, sometimes with relative familiarity to older film cameras. These can include different dials to control shutter speed, aperture, ISO or exposure settings. They can also house larger batteries, and when coupled with an optical viewfinder and optional live view from the LCD screen, leads to the potential for long shooting sessions.