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Single Use Cameras
Single Use Cameras are the simplest cameras. They contain a roll of color film encased in a recyclable cardboard box. They have a single shutter speed and a fixed-focus lens. These cameras can be bought with a variety of features, including built-in flash and water resistance. The whole camera has to be taken to the photo finisher so the film can be processed. The camera is recycled. These cameras cost around $15 and should not be used for serious photography. They are convenient for vacations and times when you find that the other camera has been forgotten.
Compact Lens-Shutter Cameras
Compact Lens-Shutter Cameras come in three varieties: single focal length, dual focal length, and zoom. Some have fixed focus, meaning that the focus is fixed at a point that produces sharp images starting from about 5 ft. away and continuing to infinity. Other cameras offer infrared auto focusing. Some models offer features like red-eye reduction flash and several automatic shooting modes. More serious photographers usually prefer to have more control over the pictures they take.
Bridge cameras are intermediate cameras. They bridge the gap between "point and shoot" cameras and the more serious or complicated models. They have different lenses and many offer a red-eye reducing flash. There is only a limited range of lens focal length that can be used with these cameras.
Rangefinders are compact, lightweight cameras that are often used for serious photography. They offer interchangeable lenses and allow photographers to control shutter speed, lens aperture, focusing, and exposure. Some disadvantages are that it is limited in focal length (ranging from 21mm-135mm) and they tend to be expensive.
Twin Lens Reflex
The twin lens reflex is a medium-format camera (one that uses film larger that 35mm). It is fitted with two lenses which both have the same focal length, one mounted atop the other. The lower (taking) lens focuses its image directly on the film, while the image produced by the upper viewing lens is reflected through 90 degrees by a mirror, and brought to focus on a horizontal ground-glass focusing screen. The light paths to the focusing screen and the film plane are equal, so that if the photographer brings the scene on the focusing screen to sharp focus, the image on the film plane will be equally sharp.
Single Lens Reflex
The SLR requires one lens for both viewing and creating the photo. A sophisticated camera that offers full manual control of exposure an focus. SLR cameras will accept interchangeable lenses, add on flashes, motor drives, and other accessories. There are also AF (auto focus) SLR's. These can be set in a number of different modes to ease picture taking. These cameras are typically used by professional photographers.