Digital single-lens reflex cameras (also named digital SLR or DSLR) are digital cameras combining the parts of a single-lens reflex camera (SLR) and a digital camera back, replacing the photographic film. The reflex design scheme is the primary difference between a DSLR and other digital cameras. In the reflex design scheme, light travels through a single lens and a mirror is used to reflect a portion of that light through the view finder - hence the name Single Lens Reflex. The image that is seen through the view finder is also the image that is captured by the camera's sensor.
The design of DSLR cameras
Like SLRs DSLRs typically use interchangeable lenses (1) with a proprietary lens mount. A movable mechanical mirror system (2) is switched down (exact 45-degree angle) to direct light from the lens over a matte focusing screen (5) via a condenser lens (6) and a pentaprism/pentamirror (7) to an optical viewfinder eyepiece (8). Most of the entry level DSLRs use a pentamirror instead of the traditional pentaprism. The pentamirror design is composed mostly of plastic and is lighter and cheaper to produce — however, the image in the viewfinder is usually darker. Focusing can be manual or automatic, activated by pressing half-way on the shutter release or a dedicated AF button. To take an image, the mirror swings upwards in the direction of the arrow, the focal-plane shutter (3) opens, and the image is projected and captured on the image sensor (4), after which actions, the shutter closes, the mirror returns to the 45-degree angle, and the built in drive mechanism re-tensions the shutter for the next exposure. Compared to the newer concept of mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras this mirror/prism system is the characteristic difference providing direct, accurate optical preview with separate autofocus and exposure metering sensors. Essential parts of all digital cameras are some electronics like amplifier, analog to digital converter, image processor and other (micro-)processors for processing the digital image, performing data storage and/or driving an electronic display. Phase-detection autofocus
Main article: Phase detection autofocus
DSLRs typically use a phase detection autofocus system. This method of focus is very fast, and results in less focus "searching", but requires the incorporation of a special sensor into the optical path, so it is usually only used in SLR designs. Digicams that use the main sensor to create a live preview on the LCD or electronic viewfinder must use contrast-detect autofocus instead, which is slower in some implementations Features commonly seen in DSLR designs
Digital SLR cameras, along with most other digital cameras, generally have a mode dial to access standard camera settings or automatic scene-mode settings. Sometimes called a "PASM" dial, they typically provide as minimum Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority, and full Manual modes. Scene modes vary and are inherently less customizable. They often include full-auto, landscape, portrait, action, macro, and night modes, among others. Professional DSLRs seldom contain automatic scene modes because professionals understand their equipment and can quickly adjust the settings to take the image that they want. Dust reduction systems
Main article: Dust reduction system
The fact that it is possible to change lenses on a DSLR results in the possibility of dust entering the camera body and adhering to the image sensor. This can reduce image quality, and make it necessary to clean the sensor. Various techniques exist including using a cotton swab with various fluids or blowing with compressed air. Some people prefer to clean the sensor themselves and some send the camera in for service. A method to prevent dust entering the chamber, by using a "dust cover" filter right behind the lens mount, was pioneered by Sigma in their first DSLR, the Sigma SD9, in 2002....