KODAK PROFESSIONAL: Technical Information Bulletin

Features and Benefits of Point-and-Shoot Digital Cameras and Single- Lens-Reflex Digital Cameras


Revised August 2006

Consider point-and-shoot cameras and single-lens-reflex (SLR) cameras as specialized tools -- select the right tool to do the job right. Point-and-shoot cameras automatically select the aperture and shutter speed. SLR cameras give the photographer creative control in creating the final image.


Point-and-shoot cameras

The simplest camera on the current market is the lens-shutter camera, also known as a point-and-shoot camera. These cameras are easy to use, give good results, and are extremely affordable.

Point-and-shoot cameras are very automatic: auto flash, auto exposure, auto wind, auto rewind, and auto shutoff. Taking pictures is a snap! Look through the viewfinder, press the button, and the camera captures the picture. The camera selects the shutter speed and aperture for you.

Point-and-shoot cameras have long been the favorite for family and vacation pictures. The flash has a limited range, usually 10 to 15 feet, which is ideal for birthday parties and holiday celebrations. In the corporate world, point-and-shoot cameras are ideal for ID cards, employee newsletters, real estate brochures, and for loading simple images on the Internet.


Single-lens-reflex (SLR) cameras

Single-lens-reflex (SLR) cameras provide capabilities not found in point-and-shoot cameras; for example, interchangeable lenses and other accessories which give the photographer greater control and flexibility. SLR cameras allow photographers to visually check image sharpness. The effects of changing lenses or adding attachments are immediately visible in the viewfinder.

SLR cameras use the same lens to view and take a picture. Just before the SLR shutter opens, a mirror which reflects the image into the viewfinder flips up, and allows the image to fall on the film (or the digital camera charge-coupled device) as the shutter opens. This provides more accurate framing, especially when photographing close-up subjects.

SLR cameras offer several advantages over their point-and-shoot counterparts:

  • Most modern SLR cameras have "through-the-lens" (TTL) metering to provide greater accuracy. The exposure is determined from the amount of light actually passing through the lens which "takes" the picture.

  • Parallax error is eliminated because the photographer sees exactly what the lens will place on the film. This is especially important when taking close-up photographs.

  • The camera can be attached to a telescope or a microscope, or fit with diffusers or masks, to allow the photographer to see the precise image the lens will produce on film.

  • The camera is very versatile. Lenses can be removed and other lenses and accessories can be fitted to the camera body. Interchangeable lenses provide views unattainable with standard or "normal" lenses:

    • Wide-angle lenses include more subject matter in a frame.

    • Telephoto lenses appear to bring subjects closer.

    • Macro lenses allow for extreme close-ups.

    • Zoom lenses, a favorite of sports photographers and photojournalists, offer precise framing and reduce the need to crop the final image.

  • The SLR camera offers a wide choice of shutter speeds. Use a fast shutter speed to freeze action. Use a slow shutter speed to capture an image in very low light or for artistic effect; for example, to exaggerate running water or to interpret motion poetically.

  • The adjustable aperture of an SLR camera can affect depth of field which represents how much of the foreground and background are in focus. For example, the photographer might choose a shallow depth of field for a head shot so the subject is sharp but the background, which would distract the viewer, is blurred and almost abstract. When shooting an image of hiking boots against the backdrop of a river, photographers can choose a smaller aperture to capture the entire scene in focus or choose a large aperture to focus only on the boots.

SLR cameras give photographers more control because the camera can be adjusted to a variety of lighting and focusing situations. For example, a backlit subject would confuse most automatic exposure systems but a photographer would recognize the situation and compensate by using a greater exposure. A window between the subject and the camera would fool most infrared automatic focusing systems (the window glass would reflect the infrared focus beam, and cause the camera to focus on the glass). A photographer would use manual focus to obtain a quality image.

SLR camera applications

  • SLR cameras can be equipped with powerful flash units to light subjects from 60 or 70 feet away, which makes them perfect for events or wedding receptions.

  • SLR cameras can be connected to or synchronized with studio-lighting equipment for sophisticated portraiture exposures.

  • Image quality on the Internet now rivals that of high-end print media. Superior image quality requires sophisticated lighting. Photographers can attach SLR cameras to studio lighting equipment and use soft lights or hot lights to create appealing portrait and product photos.

  • SLR cameras are an excellent choice for creating sales flyers, online catalogs, and technical or training manuals.

  • Crime scene photographers often prefer the SLR camera's precise focusing and ability to capture images in low-light situations. The photographer can use different lenses and select the best shutter speed and aperture to create the optimum final result.


Technical Information Bulletins provide information of limited or specific application. Responsibility for judging the applicability of the information for a specific use rests with the end user.