Photography Basics

What are DSLT Cameras?

Know what DSLT cameras are and whether you should buy one

Heard about DSLT cameras? Well, two kinds of people read this post — people who think that I made a mistake in typo, and people who want to know about the DSLT cameras. In case you are wondering, it is not a typo error. I meant DSLT cameras; don’t get confused with DSLR cameras.

Okay. I am going to stop rambling, and explain what DSLT cameras are — how it is different from the DSLR counterparts.

What are DSLT cameras really? 

DSLT stands for Digital Single Lens Translucent. It uses ‘translucent mirror technology’ (TMT) — When light enters through the lens, the mirror, in front of the image sensor, transmits about 70% of light to the sensor and the rest 30% is reflected up to the camera’s phase detection autofocus sensor.Confused? This diagram explains it well.

Sony-translucent-mirror- DSLT

Okay, that is something different. But how it is different from a DSLR?

Well, from the outside, DSLT and DSLR cameras look same. The difference lies in its working. If you kn0w the how a DSLR camera works, you already have the answer. If you don’t, I will breifly explain it to you:  DSLR stands for digital single lens reflex. It uses a reflex mirror, and hence the name. When you take a picture in a DSLR camera, the mirror flips up, which allows the light to hit the sensor.

So, the difference lies in the mirror technology. DSLT cameras has a fixed translucent mirror, and the DSLR cameras has a reflex moving mirror.Because of this reflex mirror, when you look through the viewfinder of a DSLR camera, what you see is exactly what you are going to get in the photograph. I guess that might give you an idea. I am not going to bore you by giving more technical details. The picture below shows the working of a DSLR and a DSLT camera.

DSLR DSLT cameras working comparison

DSLR vs DSLT — Who is better?

Now the question rises –Which one is better? – DSLT or DSLR

Below are some of the advantages of DSLT cameras

High frames per second (fps) shooting

Since there is no mirror flipping in DSLT cameras, you can shoot in high frames per second (fps). For dslr camera, it has to flip its mirror out of the way before every shot, which limits the frame rates. DSLT cameras can go upto 12 fps continuous shooting which no other system of cameras can do. I think it’s one of the incredible advancements in technology.

Image Quality

As I mentioned before, in a dslr there is a mirror in front of the sensor that flips up and down when a shot is taken. This mechanism takes time and creates vibrations in the camera body. These vibrations negatively affect image quality.  But in a DSLT camera, since there is no mirror flipping, there is no question of vibration arises – this ensures good image quality.

Faster continuous AF system

Another advantage of DSLT cameras is faster continuous AF system. It focuses faster even between the shots. It is a big deal in video shooting since, unlike in DSLR cameras, it auto-focuses the moving subject.

Other advantages

  • No viewfinder black out (or, no blackout time) when you take a picture. So you can view the scene while taking the shot. How cool is that! I think it is quiet useful for some action photography where you don’t want to miss anything.
  • You can see white balance, ISO, Exposure compensation in the electronic viewfinder itself, which will give you a good estimation of the settings for taking the shot.
  • Reduced size and weight. As DSLT cameras don’t use a pentaprism, and rely mostly on the electronic viewfinder, the size and weight would be slightly reduced.

Disadvantages of DSLT cameras

Everything comes at a price. The DSLT cameras have some disadvantages, too.

Optical view finder is dim: I think this is a major advantage: Since it reflects only 30% of light upwards, the optical view finder would be dim. This would be apparent especially when you use narrow apertures. Sony is solving this issue by implementing electronic viewfinders.

Poor low light performance:  There might be some issues with low light performance since the light hitting on the sensor is less when compared to a DSLR.

Consumes power: Use of an electronic viewfinder consumes a lot of power.

At present only Sony is making DSLT cameras. Some of the DSLT cameras are – Sony alpha 55, Sony alpha 57, Sony alpha 65, Sony alpha 99

Here is a video about Sony’s DSLT cameras:


NOTE: Translucent mirror technology is not new, though. This technology was first used by canon back in 1965. They used it for avoiding the mirror flipping , the viewfinder ‘blackout’, and for increasing the frame rates. But later they discontinued since the optical viewfinder gets dark at low apertures. Plus, the DSLRs came into the scene which offered good fps even with the reflex mirror.

So, what do you guys think about this? Do you think this technology will replace DSLR in future? Feel free to drop your comments.


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Vidhu Soman

Hi, I am Vidhu Soman, Editor of Shutterstoppers. I have been doing photography since 2010, and I co-founded shutterstoppers community in 2012. I love photography, writing, travelling, and reading. If you wish to contact me, send a mail using our contact form.

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  1. Nice article. Clear cut and straight to the point.
    I’m planning on writing an article on the same camera system as well. I’m gathering info from different sources and so far your article has come across as one of the simpler effective ones. Great job

  2. I am a novice, who was shooting with mobile phone and pont n shoot digital cameras so far.. want to buy a good camera now.. no high aspirations but want to buy something which can give good quality and all rounder performance for novice user like me.. what do you suggest a DSLR or DSLT..

  3. Thanks for a top article. I am looking to to find out more about the DSLT as my Sony a200 has just ‘died’ and I am looking to replace. As is usual, I am somewhat controlled by the lenses I have, mainly my Sony 500mm f8 reflex. This really limits me to Sony, so it looks like DSLT it is for me.

  4. Hi Vidhu,

    Just went through your article and believe me this is the first one that I understood. Great thing!!

    Now I think I got the person whom I should ask my query:

    Am a beginner in photography but really like it. Am planning to buy a decent camera but I cant really make a choice between following cameras, can you please help me make a choice, would be really helpful:

    1. Nikon D3200

    2. Cannon EOS 600D SLR

    3. Cannon EOS 1100D

    4. Sony SLT-A58K SLR

    5. Sony NEX-3N

    Also, please let me know on what all points you made your choice for selecting a good camera. I will try to understand that as well.

    Will be waiting for your revert here.

    Thanks in advance!!


    1. Hi, Gaurav. I am glad you like the article and found it very informative. Although I have given many advantages for using DSLT cameras, I would like you to go for a DSLR since you are a beginner. There are many reasons for that: one of that is, since many people use DSLRs, you can seek help from others who use a DSLR and it is easier to find one. So, if you go for a DSLT in the beginning itself, you might be the odd one out in a photography group.

      So, among the cameras you have listed, I would recommend the nikon D3200 since it has:

      Lower noise at high ISO ( I find it very important to have good image quality at high ISOs)
      Good color depth and better image quality (24MP for D3200)
      Better dynamic range than the 600D (It means you can capture more details from a scene)
      More focus points (11 vs 9) Means you can have a better control over the composition.
      Slightly more shots per second (4 vs 3.7)

      To me, these are the important features I look for in a camera.

      P.S. This is just my opinion. You should ask others if you have doubts.

  5. The article is great!
    I already knew the difference between DSLT and DSLR before since my friends has both DSLR and DSLT.

    I am planning to buy Nikon 5200. Can you recommend me other products sir? From Canon or Sony.

  6. Hi Vidhu. I am reaserching to buy a DSLR/DSLT from three days.. searching on the net and found your article is good.

    I am beginer and not having much exp in shooting photos using DSLR/DSLT by adjusting lens.
    I would like to use the camers for photos/vedio recording
    functions, tours and for my kids moments capturing. Night vision also req to shoot in nights. Cost is min 500$ and max 800$
    I should have choice to use different companies lences/batteries/memory cards etc.,

    Please suggest which one is best for me.

  7. Hey Vidhu,
    Nice explanatory article by you. I was thinking about buying my first DSLR, and have reached these two cameras after all this research:
    Canon EOS 600d
    Nikon d3300
    both of them are dine, but I have heard that excluding an optical low pass filter simply improves image quality, along with higher fps in shooting continuous or in full HD. But the canon has a articulate screen. The Nikon however is newer. You could go on an on and on… What would you recommend?

  8. Dear Raju,

    Thanks for the article, it was very useful!
    I would like to ask for your advice. I am about to buy my first rather serious camera. Until now, I have been using a Nikon 3100 with kit lenses. However I feel its limits now so I started to look around for something else. What I need is quite strange I guess, I would like to have true 1080p video with 60fps. That is pretty rare along DSLRs,Nikon d5300 has it though, but it’s small house and lack of buttons scares me since I planned to get into advanced photography, DSLTs and MILCs could be a great solution. Ideas: sony A77ii or panasonic gh3,g6, etc (a little hacking is no problem at all)
    Also I like time lapses but with a moving mirror machine it would be a short fun. My budget is limited though, so a 1000-1100 body would be near the maximum I could afford. My question is what would you recommended for me? Is this impossible? Thanks, Andrew

  9. Hi,

    Your information is very Helpful . I am too much confused between Sony A58k and Nikon 5200. Please help me. As most of retailers are suggesting to go for sony but on websites like snapsort and dpreview nikon d5200 is leading. Please help me out.

    1. Abhinav,

      Like I have mentioned in the article, I suggest the sony for someone who is looking to shoot or get creative with videos. Most of the websites give high rating to DSLRs because they rate the cameras based on overall functions (photography and videography). If you are into photography, the go for the D5200.

  10. hello , vidhu sir, i just read the artical . Its truely fruitful as i want to knw abt the dslt, i am a new person in this beautiful photography world. N want to buy a camara n confuse in choosing

    canon 5200d

    sony 6000alph
    plz guide me . I need ur help.

  11. Hi Vidhu,

    Thanks for the article – as others have said it’s one of the few that i’ve come across that clearly explains differences in camera types!

    Like some of the others have posted I am a novice and looking to start up on a first DSLR (as you’ve recommended others). It looks as though the posts you have previously advised others are a little older so thought I could ask your advice again with some newer cameras having been released recently. At the moment I’m looking at the following as options:

    1. Nikon D3200
    2. Nikon D3300

    3. Cannon EOS D1200
    4. Cannon EOS D1300

    I’ve had a read through some various material/websites and it’s difficult to really know what’s important with the limited lack of knowledge I have on the subject. Would be interested to hear your thoughts on the Nikon/Cannon cameras and if the newer models of each would be a better purchase and what type of photos each would be stronger for (landscape, sports etc).

    Thanks in advance for your help!

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