Digital photography

Digital photography

Digital photography is a form of photography that uses cameras containing arrays of electronic photodetectors to capture images focused by a lens, as opposed to an exposure

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on photographic film. The captured images are digitized and stored as a computer file ready for further digital processing, viewing, digital publishing or printing.

Until the advent of such technology, photographs were made by exposing light sensitive photographic film and paper, which was processed in liquid chemical solutions to develop and stabilize the image. Digital photographs are typically created solely by computer-based photoelectric and mechanical techniques, without wet bath chemical processing.

Digital photography is one of the several forms of digital imaging. Digital images are also created by non-photographic equipment such as computer tomography scanners and radio telescopes. Digital images can also be made by scanning other printed photographic images or negatives.


The digital camera

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Performance metrics

The quality of a digital image is a composite of various factors, many of which are similar to those of film cameras. Pixel count (typically listed in megapixels, millions of pixels) is only one of the major factors, though it is the most heavily marketed figure of merit. Digital camera manufacturers advertise this figure because consumers can use it to easily compare camera capabilities. It is not, however, the major factor in evaluating a digital camera for most applications. The processing system inside the camera that turns the raw data into a color-balanced and pleasing photograph is usually more critical, which is why some 4+ megapixel cameras perform better than higher-end cameras.

Image at left has a higher pixel count than the one to the right, but lower spatial resolution.




Social impact

Until the advent of the digital camera, amateur photographers could either buy print or slide film for their cameras. Slides could be developed and shown to an audience using a slide projector. Digital photography revolutionized the industry by eliminating the delay and cost. The ease of viewing, transferring, editing and distributing allowed consumers to manage their digital photos with ordinary home computers rather than specialized equipment.

Camera phones, being the majority of cameras, have arguably the largest impact. The user can set their Smartphones to upload their products to the Internet, preserving them even if the camera is destroyed or the images deleted. Some high street photography shops have self-service kiosks that allow images to be printed directly from smartphones via Bluetooth technology.

Archivists and historians have noticed the transitory nature of digital media. Unlike film and print, which are tangible and immediately accessible to a person, digital image storage is ever-changing, with old media and decoding software becoming obsolete or inaccessible by new technologies. Historians are concerned that we are creating a historical void where information and details about an era would have been lost within either failed or inaccessible digital media. They recommend that professional and amateur users develop strategies for digital preservation by migrating stored digital images from old technologies to new.Scrapbookers who may have used film for creating artistic and personal memoirs may need to modify their approach to digital photo books to personalize them and retain the special qualities of traditional photo albums.

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