A DSLR is a camera that, like its analog predecessors, has a mechanism inside the vault whereby the image that enters the lens is reflected by half of a mirror to a pentaprism that continues to reflect it to the eyepiece, placed in the back of the camera to offer a ‘real’ view of what is going to be captured by the photo sensor. Before this principle was applied, the viewers obeyed two principles as TLR system (Twin-Lens Reflex System) and parallel viewers.
The term CSC stands for Compact System Camera. Essentially it is a solid state equipment with a mount mechanism that allows to use the interchangeable lenses. It has the viewfinder with interchangeable lens.
According to the definitions, we can realize that the main difference between these two technological approaches is in their viewfinders. The image that we see through the eyepiece of a DSLR camera is the same with luminous energy that will be exposed in the camera sensor and not an electronic interpretation that can vary in the extremes of the shines, the shades, and the saturation of color. Of course, at the time of the take, we would enter into the debate about the fidelity of the electronic sensors against film, but for the time being, the possibility of being able to appreciate the image in its most natural form and without intermediate electronic processes, allows the eye trained to make decisions that may favor the outcome of the exposure.
Some CSC cameras have even been able to completely eliminate the eyepiece, which is a small electronic display, and only integrate a large LCD and LED display, which offers the viewer a wider format for making composition decisions.
We must consider that when we are taking pictures in the daytime and under the influence of sunlight, it is very difficult to see the image on an electronic screen and it is more convenient to see it in eyepiece. Faced with this problem, some manufacturers have included rubber or folding visors whose purpose is to project shade into the viewfinder to regain visibility.
The fact that both systems include the possibility of using interchangeable lenses gives these devices the added value of being able to manually manipulate focus and focal length controls as well as the possibility of using optical filters and specialized lenses to achieve angular, normal and magnification.
Cost is a factor of great difference between these two variables. DSLRs, although they have dropped considerably in price in recent years, are still considerably more expensive than CSCs and this is mainly due to the complexity of their mechanisms with more mechanical parts and high precision optical elements.
Weight and Size
The weight and size of the equipment, although mainly dependent on the lenses used, is always greater in DSLR cameras and contains more mechanical parts and optical elements that also require more space and protection.
The main factor you should consider if you are faced with the choice to make a decision between these two technologies, is the use you give to it;
- Are you used to using the eyepiece or do you prefer the electronic display?
- Do you plan to use a wide variety of lenses of different capacities and focal lengths or would you just have a single variable focal lens that has a good range between angular and telephoto?
- Does your interest focus on taking pictures or are you attracted to additional features like video?