This week in class, we got our first hands-on experience with a DSLR (Digital single-lens reflex) camera. So it made me think, what's so special about DSLR? How are they different from my iPhone's camera? The main difference is the reflex design scheme. The reflex design scheme allows light to travel through a single lens and a mirror, which is used to reflect some of that light to the viewfinder. The D stands for digital, which similar to almost every other camera in use today, including smartphones.
The first camera that was successful in using a digital sensor was developed by two Nobel Prize winning scientists in 1969. Kodak made the first commercially released Digital SLR - the Kodak DCS-100 - in 1991. The DCS-100 only shot 1.3 megapixel images and cost about $30,000. Today, almost every smartphone's camera shoots 5 megapixels or more. Even as late as 2001, the EOS-1D DSLR only shot 4.1 megapixel images. Nikon released the first DSLR that could record video in 2009. All of that is great, but my favorite advance in DSLR technology is the DSLR attachment for iPhones from Photojojo.com.
DSLR cameras continue to improve. Now, they come with touch-screens and take up to 18 megapixel images for just $849.99, which is substantially less than $30,000 the technology cost in 1991. It's impossible to tell what the future of DSLR will be, but I would bet that its convergence with smartphones continues.