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Digital Photography Cameras

The Digital Camera is based on the same basic principles that have given us a "camera" for over a hundred years. Images are recorded by capturing the light passing through a lens, either on paper/film (old film photography) or digitally (our new digital photography).

In digital cameras, the image forms on what is technically known as a CCD (Charge Coupled Device). In the simplest of terms, it is a light sensitive grid array of microscopic electrical connections. Wherever light falls, the presence and intensity of the three primary colors are recorded for that point in the digital grid. Each spot on this grid is known as a "pixel", and as there are often millions of pixels on CCDs, the sensitivity of digital cameras is rated in "Megapixels", or millions or pixels. The more the pixels, the tighter the grid, and the higher the resolution of the captured image.

A built-in computer chip collects this electronic data and stores it to a memory device in the form of a digital file. When viewed, the digital photograph file illuminates the pixels on the computer screen at the exact location within the grid, at the same intensity and color as the original image that was photographed. Thus, an exact copy of the image can be captured, stored and viewed without any further processing.

There are two broad categories of digital cameras available. The simplest is the so-called "snapshot" camera. In a snapshot camera all photograph settings are either automatically determined by the on-board computer, or are at a fixed setting. Using such a camera is quite literally childs play - just point the camera and click.

The more complicated version is the adjustable digital camera. Many or all of the photograph settings can be adjusted by the photographer. The top end of digital cameras are the "Digital SLR Cameras" (DSLR).

SLR stands for "Single Lens Reflex". In an DSLR camera, the image displayed to the photographer through the viewfinder is the actual image that will be photographed. An assembly of mirrors and prisms reflects the image coming through the lens, and allows the photographer to see EXACTLY what (as in defining something, WHAT is) the camera sees. All true SLR cameras have replacable lenses, allowing the photographer even more freedom in selecting a suitable lens type for any specific photo shoot.

While manual interaction and participation is the primary reason to choose a high end DSLR camera - they do have "automatic" modes, such as auto-focus or auto-exposure. While many professional photographers feel that autofocus is too slow or inaccurate and prefer to focus manually, the newest auto-focus technologies provide amazing results, often coupled with vibration resistant lenses.

Most cameras also have a built in flash for taking pictures in poor light situations. While good enough for snapshot photography, an internal flash lacks the power and flexibility of a professional external flash (or even better, surround flash that will illuminate the entire surroundings).

Most digital cameras store images to a memory card, although a few models can burn directly to a CD disc. Saving to memory is much faster that burning to CD, and new high capacity memory technology allows for immense amounts of data to be stored in a very, very small memory card. Photographs (image files) have to be copied off the memory card to a computer, where they can be processed or archived onto other storage devices (other memory cards, or high capacity discs). The memory card can then be erased and reused for taking more pictures.

Virtually every picture taken by a professional photographer has to be digitally edited in one way or another. From the most basic action of "cropping"; that is, removing unnecessary clutter around the edges of the picture; to color balance - some form or the other of photo editing is almost always required.

Some cameras offer built in photo editors. While interesting and fun to play with, the lack of a detailed display screen (most cameras have only a 2 or 3 inch monitor) and limited tools make this feature more of a novelty than a practical tool. One exception would be "red eye reduction" tool that recognizes the subjects eyes, and eliminate the red color imbalance caused by using a flash.

Most photographers use complex computer photo editing software, the Cadillac of which is largely considered to be Adobe's Photoshop. While expensive and requiring much training to use correctly, it is the best product available at this time. Other simpler and/or cheaper alternatives also exist, many digital cameras come with their own preferred digital photo editor - along with some sort of cataloging or photo album software.

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