Camera body type refers to the physical design of the camera which largely determines the capabilities of the camera. Each body style carries with it a list of advantages and disadvantages. Knowing these factors will help you match your camera selection to your interests in photography.
You view, compose and focus the image through a separate viewfinder while the film is exposed through the primary lens. This design includes the more common point-and-shoot (Compact) cameras. Parallax considerations arise because you are composing the shot at a different angle than the primary lens sees. Parallax correction works well until you move in very close to the subject.
In most serious 35 mm film and digital rangefinder cameras the viewfinder gives you a fairly good rendition of what the main lens is going to record. Focus is determined in the viewfinder. Some through-the-Lens (TTL – Metering for the exposure system) versions will match Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras in automatic exposure accuracy.
Other than the common Point-and-Shoot Models the availability of this design is limited and prices for the most classic rangefinder camera models have risen toward the stratosphere. Most of the classic designs are reserved for high-end cameras priced over $2,000. Some good examples of high end brand names of modern rangefinder designs are Leica, Contac, Konica, and Hasselblad.
High-end rangefinders have an array of accessories and a capability for lens interchangeability approaching that of SLR body designs.
Single Lens Reflex (SLR)
The SLR body design is one of the most basic and powerful advances in modern photography. You compose the picture, measure for proper light exposure, and set the focus by the same high-quality primary lens through which the light will pass that produces the final image. This design also makes adjusting your wide-angle, telephoto, macro lenses and filter settings as easy as looking through the viewfinder.
When you look through the viewfinder you are seeing the view through the primary lens. Light travels from a lower mirror up through a prism and then on through the viewfinder to your eyes. The image is corrected for orientation so you see the image right side up.
When you press the shutter release to shoot the picture the lower mirror must rise up and out of the way while a focal plane shutter travels across the body behind the lens and exposes a slit of light that becomes the whole picture in one pass. These factors make for a slightly noisier exposure than other body types. SLR cameras can be just as reliable as other types while the noise factor is minimal.
Point-and-shoot is the best thing to happen to popular photography. You may appreciate the fine images that a high-end SLR or rangefinder can produce, but, what good is that if you don’t bother to take your camera with you because it’s too bulky with all those accessories or just plain too expensive to risk damage or loss.
The point-and-shoot camera can be there when you need it and that means a lot. Also, according to their name, the whole process of picture taking can be accomplished more quickly and smoothly.
Shopping for a Camera (Small but Useful Features):
a. Threading on the inside of the exposure push button so that you can use a remote or locking shutter release.
b. Threading under the camera body so you can use it with a tripod.
c. Electronic time delay on exposure so that you can get into the picture.
d. (For Rangefinder and SLR types) – Flash hot shoe so that you can purchase a separate flash unit, even a different brand of flash than the camera body. For point-and-shoot models the flash is usually built in.
e. Look for threading on the inside end of the lens barrel away from the body (just above the lens glass) so that you can use photographic filters.
f. Look for grooves on the sides of the viewfinder. Some people like to add a light and glare protector cup to the viewfinder. Those grooves are where it will fit.
The Major Controls and Accessories of a Camera.