There are two main different types of cameras: point and shoot and SLR (and digital SLR). However, as more and more digital cameras flood the market, lines are being blurred between these two types. Advanced digital point and shoot cameras have a lot of the functionality of digital SLR models. And just recently, several point and shoot models with interchangeable lenses have come onto the market. But, here is a quick explanation of the major differences between a point and shoot and a SLR:
Point and Shoot
With point-and-shoot cameras (P&S), you can do just that, point the camera at something and take the photo. They are very easy to use and settings adjust automatically. They are generally very small and compact, with some of the smallest new models slim enough to fit in a pocket. However, advanced point-and-shoot cameras can be much larger. Today’s point and shoot cameras have come a long way, with more zoom and options than ever before.
One drawback to point and shoot cameras is that most use a viewfinder, so the image that the photographer sees is not the same image in the frame. This is because the image does not pass through the main lens of the camera, as it does with an SRL camera. However, many digital point and shoot cameras now have a LCD preview screen, which allows the photographer to see the exact image being captured.
SLR and DSLR
Single lens reflex (and digital single lens reflex) cameras are set apart from point-and-shoot cameras in many ways. SLR and DSLR cameras use a mirror system, which allows the photographer to see exactly what is in the frame, rather than viewing the image through a view finder. Most SLR and DSLR cameras have both automatic and manual settings, allowing the photographer to use the camera in fully automatic mode (essentially as a point and shoot) or adjust all settings such as aperture, shutter speed, and more. They are generally bigger and bulkier than point and shoot cameras, but have interchangeable lenses, higher quality image sensors, and tend to be faster and more responsive than point and shoot models.