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Single Lens Reflex 35mm
The shutter is contained within the camera body and may be composed of curtains or blades.
Because the shutter is composed of a leading and following set, very fast shutter speeds (up to
1/8000 second in some models) can be obtained. (In lens/shutter cameras high speeds are
generally limited to 1/500 second.) Lenses are interchangeable, and cover a very wide range of
focal lengths, giving access to both very wide and very long telephoto angles of view. Focusing is
manual or automatic, depending upon the model and lenses used.
Virtually every 35mm SLR has automatic exposure control; most also allow control over very fine
nuances of exposure through overrides, compensation and other built-in features. Some exposure
control systems are highly sophisticated, relying on computers to do virtual scene and lighting
evaluation. Automation is now tied in with flash exposure as well, a feature that opens up many
new possibilities for creative photography. Many 35mm SLRs also offer very high framing rates,
with some high-end models delivering up to 8 frames per second (fps).
The wide appeal of the 35mm SLR means that there are many models from which to choose. Options range from 35mm SLRs that are like point and shoot camera with interchangeable lenses to highly sophisticated instruments that offer superb automation coupled with the capability of photographer customization to virtually every shooting scenario. When you purchase a 35mm SLR you join a system of lenses and accessories for everything from fully automated flash photography used by professionals to special gear for close-up and special interest work.
There are a number of options to explore. In many cases your budget will help make the choice, but don't base your buying decision on price alone. If you can get all the features you want for a few extra dollars you won't regret it, as you probably will be working with the camera for a very long time. Many photographers limit their choices, only to find that they want to get a higher-featured camera later as their experience and understanding of photography expands.
Modes: An exposure mode is a way of setting up the camera's
exposure system. Most every SLR today offers automatic exposure (the
camera sets aperture and shutter speed for you). The most important
options within auto exposure include Program (the camera makes all
the exposure decisions); aperture-priority (you set the aperture and
the camera selects a shutter speed); and shutter priority (you set
the shutter speed and the camera sets the aperture for you). Be sure
to get a camera that reads out the aperture and shutter speed values
in the viewfinder. This is essential information for creative photography.
Some cameras also offer Picture modes, pre-programmed solutions to
exposure calculations. Portrait mode, for example, sets a wide aperture
for minimum depth of field; Action mode selects the fastest possible
shutter speed for freezing motion; and Landscape mode sets a narrow
aperture for maximum depth of field. If you're just learning about
photography these modes can help you maximize your photographs. If
you know how to make settings that accomplish the same thing you don't
need these modes.
Metering Patterns: Many SLRs today have very sophisticated
metering systems that analyze a scene and make calculations based
on algorithms that have been pre-programmed into the camera. This
may be called Matrix, Evaluative or Intelligent metering, or something
to that effect. Other options include center-weighted and spot metering.
Those who have more experience or who want to expand their photographic
knowledge should look for the full host of metering system options.
If you don't want to bother with exposure calculations you won't need
a spot metering option.
Focus and Exposure: Some teachers feel that students should
begin with a manual focus and exposure camera to learn the basics
of photography. These cameras have exposure systems, but they suggest,
rather than set actual exposures. The user must set them him or herself.
The same goes with focus. This is one approach that is not universally
accepted. If this appeals to you there are a number of excellent manual
focus and exposure cameras on the market aimed at the student and
those who want to learn this way. These cameras are usually less expensive
and generally have less options in lenses and accessories.
While the SLR out of the box is pretty impressive, some cameras allow
you to customize the settings to your own way of working. This have
on board microprocessors that can be programmed through push-button
menus on the camera. Some even allow patching to a computer with even
more customization options, or remote operation of the camera. This
customization can be applied to the way the camera focuses, exposes
and even how certain buttons and dials on the camera perform..
System Approach: An SLR body can be an investment. Be sure
to explore the system of lenses, flash, accessories and other features
that surround it. When you buy an SLR you buy into that system as