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SLR cameras, compact, bridge, hybrid: What differences ?

You wanted a geo course, visit Arras, talk about Brittany, sail in Paris or get away on the Opal Coast and NO ... Today it will be biology class, especially anatomy;)
I'm asked from time to time what are the differences between a SLR, a hybrid, a bridge and a compact so let's see what happens next ...

The compact

Small size, hence its name, it is very practical, slips into the pocket and can capture the moments of everyday life without encobrer. The lens can not be disassembled to be changed, it retracts into the case when the device is turned off. The zoom capability can range from 3x to over 10x on expert models.

Some models are disengageable: it is possible to adjust the exposure manually. On the other hand the focus is necessarily automatic (no focusing ring because of the retractable lens). The compact is the camera for beginners par excellence. The fact that it is so small is really a formidable weapon because it can be carried everywhere without being bothered !! For everyday use it usually offers a good quality of images.

Sometimes it even offers the ability to take videos in HD, for such a small footprint it's pretty cool!
Even if all device formats are for everyone, if your thing is simply to take pictures of everyday life or keep simple memories of your vacation without worrying about the settings, the compact is the most suitable with ultra-simple models , all automatic.

The Bridge

We often imagine that the bridge is between the two between the compact and the reflex .. Not really !!! On this kind of device the principle is the same as on a compact. The bridge is a compact with a look of reflex! On the other hand, it benefits from greater zoom capabilities, additional scene modes compared to the compact.

The unique and real difference compared to the compact is that you can aim in the eyecup instead of the screen but this system is not very precise so the owners of bridge use at 90% aiming by the LCD screen.


The big difference of the camera reflex compared to his colleagues is the direct sight by the eyepiece. A mirror, placed in front of the sensor, returns the light captured by the lens towards the eye. When taking a picture, the mirror is raised and lets the light reach the sensor. This sighting principle offers much better accuracy and immersion than sighting through a screen. The rear screen is no longer used to aim but to adjust the various parameters and to view the photos taken.

Now, with the new SLRs, you can aim by the screen (LiveView): useful for making video, not at all in photo.

You can change the lens which allows you to adapt the camera to the specific needs of a type of photo. The sensor is much larger (up to full frame) than in a compact or bridge which allows a higher image quality.

It is much faster than a compact but takes much more space and is much heavier ... From the point of view of shooting possibilities, the SLR is completely disengaged: the exposure and the focus can be achieved manually . The SLR is aimed at a more expert population who seeks more quality and above all more freedom in shooting. The fact of being able to set everything up gives a wider expression of creativity but requires a lot of learning but also adds a lot of constraints (sensor maintenance, choice of lens, large size, etc.).

It should be known that if you are caught by the virus of the photo, a reflex then takes all its interest: Being able to act on many settings makes it possible to obtain precisely the desired effect.

Compact Hybrid

The hybrid compact is a fairly recent concept that combines the simplicity of the compact with the versatility of a SLR. In summary, it is a compact, with interchangeable lens.
Do you find reflex cameras too cumbersome and complex? Compact cameras are not up to your requirements? A hybrid camera is for you!

The smartphone

It does not really fit in the scope of this article but I will just say that it supplants more and more compact cameras since they are in the pocket so very convenient and the characteristics of the sensors are getting closer and closer to those compact cameras.

In any case, keep in mind that the photo must, above all, remain a pleasure and not a constraint ;) !!

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