Understanding DSLR vs Range finder (RF)
A Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera uses a mirror between the medium (film or digital) to reflect light into
the viewfinder via a penta-prism or other mirrors. This key feature lets the photographer focus and compose
the subject through the lens. When the shutter is released the mirror flips up out of the way of the film or sensor.
Rangefinder cameras mount the lens in front of the film or sensor. The RF viewfinder is mounted to the side.
RF use a different method of focusing as the photographer is not looking through the lens.
The name Rangefinder comes from the fact that they have a built-in rangefinder (dual views)...
this works out the distance to the subject overlaying two images until they appear clear.
So which is better? Note: Both types of camera predate the digital era.
RFs are typically smaller then SLRs as they do not require the space for mirror mechanism.
RFs have less lag due to not needing to move the mirror. However, digital RFs, and there are not many available,
are severely flawed. This in part is due to the fact that the technology hasn't been allowed to mature
compared to DSLRs (less brands, models and volume produced). Also the nature of digital has presented
its own technical issues for RFs.
DSLRs are a better choice for general photography and RFs have a limited niche capability.
Pluses for DSLRs
- Lower cost and more flexible
- Direct focusing control
- Precise framing
- Depth-of-field control
- What you see is what you get (through the lens)
- Almost unlimited lens/filter options, lots of lenses, many lenses, any focal length
- Ability to use tilt/shift, macro and very long lenses
Pluses for RFs
- Quiet and nearly vibration-free
- Very bright, aperture independent viewfinder
- Almost no shutter lag
Negatives for DSLRs
- Slightly larger
- Mirror slap vibration can affect slow shutter speeds
- Slightly more shutter lag
- Less bright viewfinder
Negatives for RFs
- More costly
- Telephoto lenses are typically limited to 135 mm or shorter, not suited to wildlife or sports
- Very awkward macro-photography – usually not possible
- Parallax errors esp. at close-up focusing
- Difficult depth-of-field control
- Focus control is indirect
- Polarisers cannot be used
EVIL (MILC) Cameras
Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lens cameras, or otherwise known as Mirrorless Interchangable Lens Cameras (MILC),
are relatively new format of camera, yet the already command a 40% share of the new sales market in Japan. They offer many of the
advantages of an SLR or rangefinder camera, in a smaller package, and are superior to compact (P&S) cameras in almost every way.
Generally the size of a large compact, the EVIL camera has no optical viewfinder (that offers a TTL view and/or focus confirmation),
and uses an LCD to disply the image as projected through the lens. Because there is no mirror in an EVIL camera, they can accommodate
an even wider range of lenses than an SLR, including normal lenses used by rangefinders, TLR's, and view cameras (providing the appropriate
lens mount adaptor is available). Because lens manufacturers do not have incorporate the retrofocus design that is required for
SLR lenses, EVIL camera lenses can be made smaller and lighter.
This versatility makes the EVIL camera a great choice as a second camera, without having to double up on lens types.
The small size of the EVIL camera makes them popular for people that want something more discrete and less intimidating
than an SLR. Their low weight and bulk, combined with their small lenses, often pancake type, make them perfect for street
and travel photography.
The lack of an optical viewfinder has its disadvantages however, making focusing in dynamic situations difficult.
EVIL cameras us a different but slower autofocus system to most DSLR's, which also limits their performance.
Sensor size for EVIL cameras vary, but most common is the Micro 4/3rd sensor, and the APS-C sensor. As yet, a 35mm sensor EVIL
camera has not hit the market, however this is inevitable, and when the major companies such as Nikon and Canon start to produce
EVIL cameras, prices should fall, and more lenses should become available.
If the current trend continues, EVIL cameras will become
the main format for amateur photographers.