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How to Choose Your First DSLR Camera

Lesson 4 of 16

Camera Types: DSLR vs Mirrorless

John Greengo

How to Choose Your First DSLR Camera

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

4. Camera Types: DSLR vs Mirrorless

Lesson Info

Camera Types: DSLR vs Mirrorless

So the next part is learning the cameras, and so we're going to be going to a run down, starting at the most important, working down to some of the smaller, lesser known features in the cameras of things that you want to pay attention to, things that you're going to find and gonna want to learn more about as we get into him. And the first thing that we're going to start with is simply when I called the camera type, what type of camera we dealing with? Because there's a lot of different types of cameras and if we were to kind of think of the different levels of photographic devices out there on the bottom, we have our mobile devices, our phones and tablets. I can even take a picture with my computer if I want to, but they're not really dedicated solely photographic devices. Next up is what's called the point and shoots these air cameras that have built in lenses. They often have manual controls but very limited in nature, and what separates them from the next level up is the interchange...

able lens aspect of him. These have a fixed lens and these air very attractive for people traveling, sometimes with kids, and they just want something really small, and to be honest with you, I'm kind of done with pointed shoots personally, I've had a number of them over the years and rarely do they last more than three years not that I wear him out or that I break down it's just that the tech technology jump so quickly and I just keep going back to my slr is because of that better quality and I really appreciate the higher quality so what we're going to be looking at in this class is is cameras with their changeable lenses and there is this kind of slightly lower category of interchangeable lens cameras that day don't have a viewfinder and I I'm not a big fan of these but we will be talking about thes they're a little bit smaller there a little bit lighter weight there a little bit smaller but not having a viewfinder is a big stumbling block in my opinion to really getting better pictures the sl ours and the mirror elice cameras is what we're gonna be spending most of our time on and these air cameras that do have viewfinders to have interchangeable lenses and they usually have the full complement of manual controls on them and so everything above the red line is what we're going to be covering in this class the more serious cameras in my room in my mind set now the first big split that we're going to see in this grouping is the d s l ars versus the mirror lis cameras the dsr lars formally just the sl ours before they went digital I have been kind of ruling the camera market for the serious amateur well now close to sixty years and so this is the standard this is the longtime standard and this new young upstart marylise is coming along and it's coming along pretty quick if you ask me and the direction the industry is going is fairly clear is going wireless we're going to be shooting with miro this cameras probably exclusively in twenty years but in ten years the vast majority of our cameras were going to be marylise last year there were and I don't know the exact numbers but they were approximately double the introduction of marylise cameras versus sl ours thie slr is a shrinking market but it is still a great camera and it is there for a very good reason so let's talk about that one first the digital single lens reflex means it's digital we have one lens on there this one lens is a great system because we can look through our lens to see exactly what we're seeing angle of you wise focus wise filter wise through our camera in the lenses is going to be an aperture unit this is an opening that can open up whiter or closed down and never completely closes but it can open up to different sizes to control the light coming in next we go to the mirror and this is where the word reflex comes from reflecting the light and so it's going to bounce light upward to a ground glass that's our focusing screen and then it's going to bounce light through a prism system so that we can easily see what's going on now the prison system is a great way of viewing because it mimics exactly the way we see with their own eyes because we are using our own eyes toe look through our single lands it's a very, very effective way, especially for working with action type photography. When it's time to take a picture, we pressed down on the shutter release the mere moves up and out of the way so that light can get back to the image sensor before, like gets to the image sensor it needs to get past the shutter unit in the camera. Modern cameras have to shutter units, they have a first curtain and a second curtain, and so what they are, they're not really curtains anymore. They're actually very lightweight metal blades, but the first one will move out of the way so that our sensor is exposed for light. For that short shutter speed, the second curtain will come down, and that way each pixel is exposed for exactly the same amount of time the mere returns so that you can see what's going on and the camera will do it again anywhere from three to ten times per second throughout most of these cameras and so it's a very fast system but there's a lot of moving parts going on in the camera so there was some manufacturers that we're making slr cameras and looking at the design of the camera they came up with an interesting idea that became available once we came to digital is they said you know what? This camera has a big old mir inside and there's this kind of big hollow mere box in the middle of the camera taking up a lot of space and that's forcing us to mount the lands quite a distance from where the image sensor is if we were to remove that mir and the accompanying viewing system we would be able to save a lot of size and so they took the mere out they reduced the whole optical path and this is what a mirror lis cameras and I think we can all admit that this is a really stupid name I mean doesn't it sound like horseless carriage? You're naming it after the one thing that it doesn't have and so I'm thinking that long term we're going to come up with a better name it's a muralist camera now the fact of the matter is is my phone is a mirror lis camera my computer is a mirror lis camera appointed shoot is a muralist camera but we don't call it a marylise camera simply because we can't take the lens on and off and so it's a strange categorizing name that we have right now that I think will change in the future. So how does a marylise camera work? Well, we have our single lens we have are interchangeable lenses that we contain change on there we have our shutter unit that works very much like before, but in this case it needs to remain open the entire time because we need to let light all the way back to the lcd so that you can see the image on the back of the camera. Most of these cameras, but not all of them will also have an electronic viewfinder. And so this is really important, because this allows you to look at the image under bright sunlight conditions, and so it also enables you to hold the camera a little bit more steady. And so this is a really good system for viewing your subjects in a wide variety of situations, and the quality of this u finder will change from camera to camera. So over here, with some of our marylise cameras, I'll show you just on the back side real quickly, you can see the size of the opening and they're going to have different size screens in there, and these are very important this this is a food g x t one right here. And it's got one of the largest, brightest easiest to see viewfinders and so people who come from the world of sl ours look at this and I'm like, wow that's really good and on the older cameras they have really bad viewfinders and they're getting better and better all the time and so when you look at a mere lis camera you want to look in the viewfinder and you want to see how good how large is this? And we're going to talk about the viewfinder in particular and the things that you want to look for in this category so that's the dslr and the mirror lis camera so let's just do kind of a quick summary check between these two so the dslr large sharp viewfinder this is one of the most important things to serious photographers is having something that is comfortable and easy to see through you're going to be ableto compose your image is much better with a good view finder the dsr lars are very good for fast action and this has reasons to do with the auto focus system that they use that we will talk more about in an upcoming section lots and lots of lenses the sell ours for the most part we're talking about cannons and icons there's a few other brands as well but cannons and icons they've been around for a long time they have dozens and dozens available of available lenses for you lots of accessories from wireless remote flash units, macro units everything you could imagine you're going to find with the dsr lars it's just a well established brand, which means that you're gonna be able to walk into a camera store in argentina and they're gonna have what you're looking for your traveling through a small town in italy and you need a spare battery and so repair professional services how easy is it to sell your camera? The dslr zehr just so common they have advantages in that regard, the mirror lis cameras are in general they're going to be smaller size cameras. The viewfinders have what I call smart refiners and there's a lot of digital advantages I'm going to show you some of these when we talk about the viewfinders in particular, some of these cameras will utilize a silent elektronik shudder. It's pretty cool, I know on some of the recent fuji's and the panasonic ce they have instituted an option where you can turn on and electronic shutter, which means there is no physical blades moving in front of the sensor and it is it's, not just quiet, it is dead silent the on ly noise you're going to hear is your finger pressing down on the shutter release and so you can take a picture without anyone knowing that you're pressing down on the shutter release we can actually have more accurate focusing with the mirror list because it can see the actual result we'll talk more about this in the focusing section, we do actually have faster focusing with the dsr lars and I know this is a little bit of a confusing point it's faster with the dea solares, but it is technically a little bit more accurate with the marylise cameras that's not really a the dea solares are very accurate, but when we get a nit picking the mirror list can be a little bit more accurate and we have simplified the design when we take out the mirror, which flops up and down when we take out that shutter unit it simplifies the design. Now the marylise cameras do still have shudder units in, so there are still moving parts in there at some point not too far. I would say within five years we're going to start seeing cameras that don't have any physical shutters in them at all and that's going to be good because that's going to be less movement, which means less vibration in the cameron that vibration as we've seen in some of the higher and cameras, can actually cause a slight blurriness and this is only on some very extreme high end cameras in particular situations, and it will simplify the design it makes it smaller, cheaper, more durable in style so let's take a check in with some of the questions that you might have regarding dslr or muralists cameras um so we have one question about we're getting a couple questions about which one's better right and there's not one that's better right there different um mere lis cameras might be referred to simply as d s l cameras because there's no reflexes that digital single lens yeah yeah is that people will use that they're in one of my other classes is I have a whole we'll have a slide that has about fifteen acronyms that people have come up with calling these cameras and so my favorite, of course is elektronik viewfinder interchangeable lance e v I l evil way haven't fully decided a lot of people have some great ideas on that's that's a new one right there. So a question about me airless cameras will meritless cameras make dslr obsolete eventually? I mean, do you think I would say so? Yes that's the way that is going on and I would say the same thing that electric cars were going to make internal combustion engine cars obsolete I can see that's the direction we're going I don't know when it's gonna happen I know right now I need a dslr to do some of the things that I want to do because the marylise cameras are not good enough but I know the technology is getting better and we'll continue to get better and I see that there's really no end in that and the dea solares have kind of maxed out in some of the things that they're trying to dio and so it is the new system and you just simply have to look at what's going on right now one of the concepts when choosing a camera to think about is I know there's a lot of people that have the old school mentality about purchasing a camera, which is this is an expensive item I can't afford to buy a new one every year, so I'm going to buy a good one and it's going to be mine for the rest of my life and that's not the way it works here I I like I love photography and I like my cameras, but I don't hold them to to near to my heart because I know I'm gonna keep him for three to five years for the most part and then I'm going to turn around and I'm gonna sell him and I'm going to move on to the next one. And so for me it's not like buying my dream home that I'm going to be at all of the rest of my life it's more like I'm getting apartment well, I'm going to college it needs to be a decent place to live for the next few years and the cameras it used to be, and this is one of the things that I hate about digital cameras is they keep getting better and they kind of keep buying new ones because I always like to have something, you know, that's that's on the upper end, the good ones it used to be back, you know, thirty years ago that you could buy a camera and keep it for ten to twenty years, and if you wanted better quality pictures, you've got new film in new lenses, and now the sensor are continuing to increase, you know, every five years or so, where it's, you know, a noticeable jump the longest I personally know of anyone that has kept a digital slr camera, and I'm very impressed with this. He had a camera for ten years before he replaced it, and so this is a product that you were going to have for a while, and I think it's very good to get comfortable selling it. Now there are some people that just can't part with their items, and they throw it in a closet, and then fifteen years later, they throw it up on craigslist for twenty five dollars when they could have sold it kind of right away. And made five hundred dollars off of it. And so this is something that you kind of just move through. And so when you buy your next computer, do you really think it's the computer you're going to keep for the rest of your life? No, and the same is with cameras. They'll last a little bit longer. In many cases, the lenses will last, I think lenses air good for ten or twelve years. For most people, the use and so that's a much more long term investment. The camera for most people at least three years. Five years, I think, is a reasonable number to be having a camera for somebody. Who's using this on a regular basis. Awesome. Do we're getting a couple questions? Sandy has a question. Do existing dslr lenses fit on mir lis cameras? Or are there any systems where you can actually change lenses from the same manufacturer? Maybe between. Good question. Yeah. So, yes, you can take a slr lens and let's, just show you an slr camera versus a mirror. Elice camera. Here. The slr cameras are quite thick, and so the lens is used to being fairly far from the film plane, which is right about here in the camera, and the marylise camera has a very a short distance between where it isthe and so if I want to take this, I can mount it, but it's got to be out a little bit further so you can add an adapter and so the theory is that you can take any slr lands and you can use it on a mirror lis camera. The reality is that it's a pain in the butt because there's a not very smooth transition of features, sometimes they won't auto focus sometimes they won't auto exposure sometimes they just kind of bulky and they don't mount really smoothly. Sometimes they work pretty well and it allows you to use I can't I did lands on a mere lis camera from any manufacturers, so if you have a sony marylise camera, you could put on a nikon or canon lands, which, you know, in theory is really nice, but there's also aa lot of alignment that has to be just right and now rather than having one lens to camera mounting now you have to and you've just doubled the chances for something to move a fraction of a millimeter and to be thrown off. So it kind of throws everything up in the air a little bit and there are a number of photographers out there who have had great success in mixing and matching bodies and lenses I don't use it because I don't like to butts around. I want something. I just want to buy it and make it and have it work. I don't want to mess around with things that are working some of the time or don't work one hundred percent, and so I I tend to avoid them. I'm not a big proponent. There are many cases where it's just the right answer, but it's, not something that I highly recommend to people.

Class Description

It’s nearly impossible for any beginner to sort through all of the functions, features, and price points of DSLR and mirrorless cameras and make an informed choice. In How to Choose Your First DSLR Camera, John Greengo will simplify the buying process and help you find the camera that fits your needs and your budget.

The key to finding a great DSLR camera for beginners is knowing the market and which questions to ask. In this class, you’ll learn about all the different types and brands of cameras and which one is right for you. 

You'll learn:

  • Which features are beneficial to your style of photography
  • The importance of having the right lens
  • The differences between Digital SLRs and mirrorless
  • How a camera’s sensor size impacts image quality

John will look closely at all the latest DSLRs from Nikon and Canon, and the mirrorless cameras from Sony, Fuji, Panasonic, Olympus, and others.

The current crop of photographic equipment is more diverse than ever before and finding the right DSLR camera for a beginner can be a challenge. There is a huge range of variables between cameras, even when they come from the same manufacturer. How to Choose Your First DSLR Camera will help you know what to look for and which questions to ask when it’s time to buy your first camera.



I have to thank John Greengo and the CreativeLive staff for another wonderful class. Mr. Greengo is a very good instructor (he has a nice Bob Ross ambiance), very knowledgeable and very technical with the camera and the terminologies. I am very grateful that he has material to download so I can continue to review and learn. I own a DSLR but I never truly understood the baseline technology. I am in the process of purchasing a new camera system and lens for some photography but mostly for filmmaking. With the knowledge I gain by watching this course, I can better choose and identify the features of the future cameras in my upcoming new passion. Thank you CreativeLive and Thank you Mr. Greengo. I am looking forward to attending future classes.


This was a great class. I already had an idea of the direction I wanted to go as I start my new business, but this class really helped me focus on the most important upgrades I need to make to my current system. I was particularly impressed with the visual graphics used to explain the technical functions of cameras and how those functions affect image quality and camera use. I would highly recommend this class to anyone who wants to up their camera system and I am looking forward to taking the classes that are specific to the camera systems I am using. I would love to see a class on image processing and getting the most out of editing software. Great Job! Glad I signed up for CreativeLive.

Bev Anne

Excellent course. I was happy to find out that I made a good choice when purchasing my entry level DSLR camera -- it does everything I need at the moment. I was also interested to find out that mirrorless is the wave of the future -- I really like the idea of the light weight because I am developing some arthritis in my wrists and when I am ready to move up in the future I will have great options. Meanwhile I also learned that there is an inexpensive lens that I can get that will upgrade my system enough for the immediate future. Thank you John Greengo for this informative class it was well worth the purchase price.