Digital Cameras: DSLRs, Mirrorless & More

A digital camera is an essential piece of equipment if you want to capture special moments in high-quality photographs. Amateur and professionals alike use DSLR, mirrorless, and point-and-shoot cameras to take photographs that can be printed and displayed.

Types of Digital Cameras

There are three main types of digital cameras that both professionals and hobbyists use to capture special moments:

  • DSLR cameras - Digital single-lens reflex cameras are popular with many photographers. These high-end cameras allow you to swap interchangeable lenses depending on the type of photo you’re trying to take. DSLRs use mirrors to direct light to large-frame sensors that provide high-resolution images. The optical viewfinder is a feature appreciated by professionals and amateurs alike as it provides a true-to-life view of the scene and doesn’t drain battery life like a screen.
  • Mirrorless cameras - These digital cameras are similar to DSLRs, but they do not include a mirror inside. Instead, light travels through the lens and lands directly on the sensor. They are small, light, and affordable, making them attractive to many budding shutterbugs and seasoned pros.
  • Compact point-and-shoot cameras - Casual photographers looking to snap high-quality photos will find a lot to like about point-and-shoot cameras. These compact digital cameras are small and easy to carry around. They come with retractable lenses that are permanently attached, so you can’t take advantage of interchangeable lenses. However, the latest models are more than capable of capturing great shots.

Digital Camera Features & Specifications

Comparing digital cameras presents shoppers with a confusing hodgepodge of technical terms. Here are the main features and specs that you should consider before buying a new digital camera:

  • Megapixels - This refers to the camera's resolution. The greater the number of megapixels, the higher the quality of your photos. This is important if you want to create large-size prints of photos or plan to zoom in on part of the image later.
  • Memory/Storage – Digital cameras don’t use film; instead, they save your images to a memory card. Some cameras may come with a memory card included. Otherwise, you’ll need to purchase an SD card in order to take photos.
  • Autofocus – A useful feature that allows a digital camera to focus on an object in the frame, virtually eliminating blurry photographs from your collection.
  • Digital zoom – Many entry-level cameras feature a digital zoom that uses a processor to upscale your image, simulating a closer view of your subject (the lens doesn’t move). Digital zooms are suitable for many users but can cause the image’s resolution to degrade.
  • Optical zoom – An optical zoom uses the physical movement of a lens to increase magnification. Many professional photographers prefer optical zoom as it preserves the resolution of a photograph.
  • Manual mode - Although some cameras come with presets for different light settings, some come with a manual mode that lets you select the aperture, the shutter speed, and the ISO. This ultimately gives you more control when determining how you want the image to come out.
  • Ergonomics - This indicates the size, weight, and durability of the digital camera. If you are a professional, you may need a larger camera and the accessories that go with it. If you are a hobbyist who just wants a digital camera available to take photos of precious moments, a smaller device may be desired.
  • Raw - Some devices can save the image in the raw format. The raw format records all of the information from the sensor so that you can have more flexibility when processing the photo using software.

What Brands Make Digital Cameras?

These are among the many companies that create and manufacture different types of digital cameras at a range of prices:

  • Canon – A well-known brand among photographers, Canon manufactures many high-end DSLRs and mirrorless cameras like the EOS series. You’ll also find mid-range and point-and-shoot models in their product lineup.
  • Nikon – Many professional photographers rely on Nikon DSLRs to capture stunning moments in high definition. Nikon also makes more affordable models, including point-and-shoot cameras.
  • Sony – The well-known electronics company sells a range of digital cameras, including mirrorless cameras with innovative features.
  • Fujifilm - This brand makes highly regarded cameras, lenses, and photographic accessories.
  • Panasonic – While Panasonic cameras run the gamut from beginner to advanced, the brand’s mirrorless models are among the most common.
  • Olympus – A storied brand among photographers, Olympus has been a leader in the industry for decades.

For informational purposes only. eBay is not affiliated with or endorsed by any brands.