Photographer's Freedom

Beginner – Better – Business

What Does DSLR Stand For? – Discover The Answer Here


Sometimes called a Digital SLR, DSLR cameras have been the most common type of interchangeable lens cameras since the late 1990’s. So what does DSLR stand for?

What Does DSLR Stand For?

As I mentioned above, the D stands for Digital. SLR stands for Single-Lens Reflex.

This probably doesn’t make things any clearer for you though, does it? So let’s look into what Digital Single-Lens Reflex means.

Before DSLR Cameras – In The Days of Film

Before DSLR cameras came into being, SLRs were the thing to use. These cameras worked on the same principles as the DSLR but they captured the image onto light sensitive film instead of a digital sensor.

what does dslr stand for? blog post - a twin-lens rolleiflex camera
A Twin-Lens Reflex camera

But why Single-Lens?

Before SLR cameras we had Twin-Lens Reflex or TLR cameras.

These had not one but two lenses – one to look through and focus the image, and one to imprint the image onto film or a glass plate. Hence the term ‘twin-lens.’

The cameras that came after had just one lens (single-lens), and used a mirror and prism system to deflect the light coming through the lens up to a viewfinder.

slr camera showing light path through the camera
Image courtesy of

This meant the photographer could now see the image exactly as it appeared through the lens.

When the photo is taken, the mirror flips up and out of the way (the noise you hear when you click off a photo), allowing the light to be imprinted on the film.

Learn the correct way to hold a DSLR camera in my How To Hold A Camera – Teach Me Now! post.

The Digital Sensor in a DSLR Camera

Within a DSLR camera, instead of a roll of 35mm film, we have a digital sensor.

what does dslr mean - camera sensor
The digital sensor inside a Nikon D5200 DSLR

The way the photo is captured works exactly the same way as an SLR – the mirror flips up and out of the way to expose the sensor to the light.

The sensor captures millions of picture elements (pixels), that make up the digital image.

What Does “Reflex” Mean?

This doesn’t mean that the camera is going to react quickly if you toss your car keys at it!

Reflex is actually a shortened version of reflection and refers to the mirror inside the camera.

So now you know what DSLR stands for

You will no longer have to ask “what does DSLR stand for?” And not only that, you also know what all of those words mean! Go and impress your friends with your new-found knowledge.

Thank you for reading this post. Be sure to head over to the Photographer’s Freedom Facebook page and give it a like. All new blog posts and videos are posted there, along with other photography stuff.

Use the social sharing buttons below to share this blog post around. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *