About Digital Photography

Most serious photographers and all professionals use a Single Lens reflex camera (SLR), the definition of an SLR camera is that the image is captured exactly as you see it in the viewfinder. However there are now two types of SLR the single lens reflex film (SLRF) and the single lens digital (SLRD). They are both single lens camera, but digital does not use film and the resulting image can be processed at home with the aid of a photographic editor such as Photoshop. There are now SLR style digital cameras that have an EVF (electronic view finder) that displays on a small monitor inside the viewvinder what the image sensor is seeing.

The image capturing component in a traditional camera is film. When film is exposed to an image, it makes a chemical record of the pattern of light, coming through the lens. Film has a collection of light sensitive frames, suspended on a strip of plastic. Colour film has three different layers of light sensitive material, which respond to red, green and blue (known as the (RBG) values. When the film is developed, it is exposed to chemicals, which dye the separate layers of film, into a colour negative. All modern film is made up of silver halide crystals.

Observatory 2The digital revolution is the conversion of analog information, which is represented by a gradually fluctuating wave, to digital information represented by bits. This shift in technology has revolutionized both visual and audio information, in the form of cameras, televisions, and MP3 players. While SLRF cameras relied on a chemical process to cature an image onto film, all digital cameras have their own computers, which processes and records images from the image sensor electronically. Essentially the digital camera replaces the analog film with a digital sensor. Each part of the image is broken down into "pixels", which is a contraction of 'picture element'. When monitors display images they are arranged in rows and columns, separated into thousands of little squares (pixels)of color. They are so minute that they appear to be connected, but if you zoom into this the squares are quite separate.

These pixels are the smallest dot that can be displayed by a monitor, and combined together they display the completed image.

Because of the enormous difference in the way the two types of camera work, there has been in many people's mind a huge confusion as to what type of camera to buy. Added to that there are three types of SLRD cameras. SLRF cameras had conventional shapes, because it was necessary to have room for the film, and the light path, SLRD cameras do not have these constraints.

At the lower end of the market for the digital cameras are the 'Point And Shoot', their SLRF equivalent is known as 'Idiot Proof'. They have low resolutions of between 4 - 12 million pixels. The next level is the proconsumer camera typically with a resolution of 6-15 million pixels. At the top end of the market the resolution is between 12-21 million pixels. The greater the number of pixel resolution the better the quality of the resultant image.

As with any new technology there are 'pros and cons' with both types of cameras, and it was thought it would be a decade or more before digital cameras replace SLRF, if indeed they ever do, more likely the SLRF cameras will be retained for use in a specialist market. It is also fair to say that the quality of digital cameras has improved enormously in the last ten years, and the price has also reduced dramatically. For most people the option of 35mm film is no longer an option. Kodak no longer makes or distributes 35mm color film in the U.S.

One major factor determining the choice of camera is weight. Typically the SLRD camera is half the weight of it's SLRF counterpart. The point and shoot is fully automatic, but like their counterpart the idiot proof they do not give the photographer much creative control. Although this has changed with the new "super zooms" that have all the crestive control featues of an SLRF except interchangeable lenses. They have earned their stripes, on the occasions when a photographic opportunity would have been missed with SLRF. The middle of the range family of digital cameras represent the fastest growing demand for new cameras as they represent the ease of digital with a higher level of creative control. You can also make larger prints, as well as use the function of through the lens focusing. The higher resolution top of the range digital cameras offer the same wider exposure controls and the ability to use different lens, in other words they offer the best of the features of analog photography to digital photography. The most recent development in digital cameras has been the development of a standard image sensor in the ratio of 4:3. As the image sensor has a standard size and shape, the mount for the lenses can be identical. One factor not to be forgotten in deciding whether or not to go digital, is that the quality of the lens is still of paramount importance, it is still better to have a cheaper body and higher grade lens. Josh @ Cambria

Another major element is that digital image sensors are smaller than frames of film, which means that the lens can be correspondingly smaller and lighter. Until the development of the 4:3 ratio systems, digital cameras used conventional lenses. New formats are available and emerging every year (4/3's and micro 4/3's) but there are compromises when making things smaller and we'll discuss that in another article.

The type of digital camera to choose is as complex as buying a car, it is a matter of personal choice, dictated by what it is used for, and the available amount of money to spend. Fortunately there is a large amount of help in this respect already available on the Internet for you to research.

One of the major drawbacks of using digital, was that the quality of prints produced on a personal computer's printer was less than satisfactory. This obstacle has been overcome by two developments; online printing centers and professional series printers using pigments inks instead of dyes like early inkjet printers. For an online printing center you upload the film to them and they print the images and they are returned by post, with a professional standard Some services even allow you upload, adjust images and then pick them up in an hour at WalMart or Target.