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Digital Photography

Photography without film


Pictures taken with digital cameras rival the quality of film.
Pictures taken with digital cameras rival the quality of film.

A picture taken on film is composed of numerous, tiny, light-sensitive silver-halide crystals that are chemically-processed in order for the image to be made, whereas a picture recorded digitally is made up of numerous, tiny, light-sensitive pixels that form an image that can be viewed on a computer monitor or the viewing screen of a digital camera.

Throughout this section, we refer to cameras that use film as “traditional” cameras in order to differentiate them from “digital” cameras (which, of course, do not use film).

OBTAINING A DIGITAL IMAGE

There are essentially two ways in which people obtain digital photographs - by using:

  • a digital camera to take the pictures, or
  • a scanner to copy an existing photograph into a digital format.

  • DIGITAL CAMERA

    Most digital cameras function in much the same way as a traditional camera that uses film to record images, except that in place of the film, images are captured on an image sensor and preserved in the camera’s digital memory. Digital memory was typically built-in to early cameras, but now is generally on a removable memory card.

    The number of images the camera’s memory or memory card holds varies dependent on image quality and type (i.e. black and white, color or sepia-toned), the quality of the camera and the memory capacity. New technology for digital imaging is emerging rapidly and multi mega-pixel image storage capacity is quickly becoming affordable with each new generation of cameras.

    In traditional photography, when you have taken the last frame on a roll of film, you rewind the roll, remove it from the camera and replace it with a fresh, unexposed roll in order to continue taking pictures. In digital photography, a similar process must occur when the memory is full. If you are familiar with the operation of a computer (and you probably are or you wouldn't be reading this now), you will know that a document or image can be saved in memory as a file. A digital camera saves its images in a similar manner, and the image file can be transferred (downloaded) from your camera’s memory or your memory card to a computer’s hard drive, floppy drive, zip drive, external drive, CD-ROM or DVD. You can also download images onto a portable storage device. When the camera’s memory is full, you either download the images or, if using a memory card, you can replace it with a fresh, blank memory card, permitting you to download at a later time.

    Digital cameras are available in a wide range of prices, from simple point-and-shoot models to high-end professional cameras.
    Digital cameras are available in a wide range of prices, from simple point-and-shoot models to high-end professional cameras.

    If you don't like the image you see on your digital camera's LCD  viewfinder, simply delete it and start again.
    If you don't like the image you see on your digital camera's LCD viewfinder, simply delete it and start again.

    A great advantage of many digital cameras that have an LCD viewfinder (a mini monitor screen) is the ability to review images stored in the camera's memory at any time and to delete any unwanted images at the photographer's convenience, thus freeing up storage space for new images, while retaining only the best images for later retrieval and downloading.

    SCANNED IMAGES

    A scanner connected to a computer converts images into digital data that becomes stored on the computer.

    Flatbed scanners are typically used to copy photographic prints, while film scanners copy images from negatives or slides. Some flatbed and film scanner models can be set to copy all three formats.


    VIEWING IMAGES STORED AS DIGITAL DATA

    To display an image that is digitally stored on your computer, your computer needs to have software that can read and display the image file. Such software is usually supplied when you purchase a digital camera or scanner, enabling you to not only digitally copy and save an image in your computer, but also to view the image on your computer monitor. Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000, XP, Vista and Windows 7 also come standard with built-in image viewers such as Kodak Imaging for Windows, the popular Internet Explorer browser, and MSPaint.

    A tremendous variety of image-viewing and manipulation software is also available as stand-alone applications that function independently from the scanner’s software. The best-known and the most versatile is Adobe PhotoShop, which is commonly used by graphic artists and professional photographers around the world. There are several less-expensive programs that can provide most photographers with their image-editing needs.

    Some printers are designed for direct connection of a digital camera or a memory card without going through a computer, but most images need “cleaning up” (cropping, adjustment of brightness and contrast, sharpness, color, etc.) before they are considered to look their best for printing on paper or other use.

    If you want to darken, brighten, crop, sharpen or do anything with a digital image, you will need appropriate image-editing software in your computer.
    If you want to darken, brighten, crop, sharpen or do anything with a digital image, you will need appropriate image-editing software in your computer.

    The image quality available from digital cameras is astonishingly good, as good as film in almost every instance. Pictures are sharp, clear and bright.
    The image quality available from digital cameras is astonishingly good, as good as film in almost every instance. Pictures are sharp, clear and bright.

    THIS SECTION HAS MANY HELPFUL POINTERS, TIPS AND HINTS

    This section of photographytips.com is intended to help you make good digital pictures, either from your digital camera or from photographs that you digitize using a scanner. To begin exploring it, scroll down to click the links to sub-sections. Or click here to start with the first heading, "Digital Photography's Popularity."

    Help us to keep you up-dated.

    Digital imagery is the fastest-growing area of photography, with changes and improvements in products and techniques occurring almost daily. You may come across information in this section that should be up-dated or you may have digital photography tips and hints of your own that we have overlooked.

    We invite you to send in any corrections or pointers you may wish to share with our viewers. We will be sure to credit you with the information if we use it. If you include an image of your own to illustrate the information, we will acknowledge you with a photo credit.


    Further information...

    How digital cameras work

    Choice in digital cameras

    Starting out

    Digital cameras and batteries

    Editing digital images

    Printing digital images

    Digital's popularity

    Features of a digital camera

    Dust and digital photography
    Related topics...

    Email, the internet and your digital pictures

    Infrared light's effect on digital photography

    Tips on histograms