So you've started getting more interested in photography recently and are trying to learn all the terms or you've simply heard the acronym and wonder what it stands for. Whatever the reason you're here to learn about SLRs. In this article we will look at what is an SLR, we'll look briefly at the history of the SLR and what the other types of camera are.

SLR stands for Single Lens Reflex and is a very common type of camera used by all sorts of people ranging from casual photographers looking to capture snaps of their children to serious amateurs and enthusiasts to professionals who rely on their cameras to earn a living. The cameras you see at big sporting events or that are often seen in use by the paparazzi are examples of SLR cameras.

When did SLR cameras start appearing?

While SLR cameras have been available for a long time in one format or another the first SLR in the common 35mm format was available in the 1930s. Leica's PLOOT reflex camera was released to the mass market in 1935. Since then many different manufacturers have produced hundreds of different models based around the SLR design.

So what makes the SLR different from other camera types?

The SLR camera uses a mirror which allows the operator to look directly through the cameras lens seeing exactly what will be captured when he or she presses the shutter button. This single feature offered a huge benefit over previous styles of camera. I'm sure most readers will have one time or another taken a photo with a compact 35mm camera only to have discovered later that their composition is not quite right or they have chopped off the outer edge or their image – This was more than likely due to the slight difference between what is seen when looking through the small view finder on a compact camera and what the lens actually captures.

Another significant advantage of the SLR over many other types of camera is the ability to remove and replace the lens on the camera. This allows the user to change the lens to suit the style and type of photography.

So I understand what an SLR is. What other types of cameras exist?

Today cameras use one of two types of media for recording their images. Either film or digital. Film usage has declined significantly in the last few years and digital is now the norm.

As mentioned in previous paragraphs one of the most common styles of camera these days is the compact camera. These are the small cameras you have and probably take on holiday with you. Often (especially with film cameras) there is a small viewfinder on the top of the camera which you must look through when composing your image. This often isn't true of modern digital compact cameras as you generally look at an image on an LCD on the back of the camera.

In addition to compact and SLR cameras there is the TLR or Twin Lens Reflex camera. TLR cameras predate SLRs and have two lenses. One lens for taking the image and one for the operator to use to view and compose the image. This form of camera is much less common today.