There used to be a pretty straightforward choice when buying cameras: go for the convenience and ease of use of a compact digital camera or the high-functionality and superior picture quality of a DSLR.
However, Sony livened up the market by introducing a new alternative in 2010 – the SLT camera. Whilst anyone wanting a camera for ‘serious’ photography rather than taking ‘snaps’ would previously have gone straight for a DSLR, there is a now a decision to make. The SLT is designed to produce pictures with the same level of quality as a DSLR, but how is it different?
SLR stands for ‘single lens reflex’ and SLT for ‘single lens translucent’. Both use a mirror inside the camera to create an exposure. In the DSLR, this is a mechanical process, with a mirror that swings out to allow light into the camera’s sensor, and then swings back into place after a picture is taken: essentially the same process used in a traditional film SLR camera.
In an SLT camera, however, the mirror used is translucent, so it doesn’t need to move when a picture is taken. This means that shots can be taken much more quickly than with a DSLR, in rapid succession. Pictures also tend to be easier to focus, as the fixed mirror in an SLT eliminates the shaking that can sometimes occur in a DSLR camera, keeping blurring to a minimum. SLTs also tend to be better for taking video, because they can keep auto-focussing throughout.
Whilst SLT cameras have a number of valuable advantages, it’s also worth noting that they may not be the best choice for every single shot. Some consider DSLRs to be better for taking pictures in low-light conditions – as, unlike in an SLT – light isn’t constantly hitting the camera’s sensor.
Whether you opt for a DSLR or SLT camera will, of course, be a matter of personal preference, but if you take a lot of video or motion shots (such as in sports photography) then you will probably find that an SLT meets your needs better, allowing you to capture every second of the action.