There are many different kinds of cameras. We will restrict our discussion to still photography, not motion pictures or videos. Still cameras are available to fit various sizes of film. For our purposes we will deal exclusively with 35mm cameras, which are the most popular still-film format.
35mm cameras are manufactured in a variety of styles:
one-time use – sometimes called “disposable”
point and shoot
fixed focus and autofocus
fixed focal length lenses and zoom lenses
single-lens reflex (SLR) with interchangeable lenses.
There are others, but these are the most widely used. Both good pictures and bad pictures can be made using any of these styles.
Cameras which are fixed-focus and do not have adjustable shutter speeds and adjustable apertures are very limited as to the picture situations in which they can be used. Also, those cameras which have “auto-exposure” will only give the correct exposure when used within the sphere of their limitations. They will quite often “automatically” give the wrong exposure! The main point is to recognize the limitations of your camera. Do not exceed these limitations if you want to make acceptable photographs. Remember the old saying, “When in doubt, read the instructions.” This advice certainly applies to using your camera.
5mm Single-Lens Reflex
The most versatile camera is the 35mm SLR. With the SLR you are viewing the scene through the actual picture-taking lens rather than through a separate viewfinder. Also, these cameras allow you to use interchangeable lenses. You can use a normal focal-length lens, a wide-angle, a telephoto, a macro, or any of the special-use lenses available for these cameras. Most of these cameras offer through-the-lens (TTL) exposure meters. The exposure is determined by the amount of light actually striking the film plane. If you place filters or accessories in front of the lens, exposure compensation is automatically achieved without your having to do any calculations. Shutter-speed synchronization with electronic flash is the only real drawback when using an SLR . This is discussed under the article about flash. The fully-adjustable SLR which accepts interchangeable lenses is the camera which is recommended by this writer.