Introduction to Digital Photography

Introduction to Digital Photography

The phenomenon of digital photography began when digital cameras became commercially available sometime in the late 1980s to the mid-1990s. Since then, a lot of people have stacked away their film cameras in their closets in favor of the digital camera.

But before jumping into the digital camera itself and its finer details, it is important to know what digital photography is. In a nutshell, digital photography is the act of taking pictures and saving it into a digital format. A scanned photograph, therefore, can also be considered as a digital photograph. Most people prefer the digital format over film because of several reasons. First of all, seeing the results of digital photographs is instantaneous.

After the shot is taken, the photographer can immediately see and decide if he does or doesn’t like the result of his shot. This method is much cheaper than film because when using film, one has to print all the photographs taken including the duds which can’t be seen until they are processed.

Another reason why people prefer digital photographs than traditional ones is that there are a variety of ways in sharing a digital photograph. One can send it through e-mail, burn it to a disc, send it via Bluetooth, upload it to one of the many photo sharing or social media sites or print it just like film photographs. However, there are purists who choose film photographs over digital ones. According to them, there film photographs produce more lifelike images than those taken by digital cameras.

But the more advanced digital cameras of today are slowly but surely gaining ground and it will only be a matter of time before they produce images that will impress even the purists.

Camera DSLR with Zoom lensAdvantages of professional digital cameras from

  • Immediate image review and deletion is possible; lighting and composition can be assessed immediately, which ultimately conserves storage space.
  • High volume of images to medium ratio; allowing for extensive photography sessions without changing film rolls. To most users a single memory card is sufficient for the lifetime of the camera whereas film rolls are a re-incurring cost of film cameras.
  • Faster workflow: Management (colour and file), manipulation and printing tools are more versatile than conventional film processes. However, batch processing of RAW files can be time consuming, even on a fast computer.
  • Digital manipulation: A digital image can be modified and manipulated much easier and faster than with traditional negative and print methods. The digital image to the right was captured in RAW format, processed and output in 3 different ways from the source RAW file, then merged and further processed for color saturation and other special effects to produce a more dramatic result than was originally captured with the RAW image.

Recent manufacturers such as Nikon and Canon have promoted the adoption of digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) by photojournalists. Images captured at 2+ megapixels are deemed of sufficient quality for small images in newspaper or magazine reproduction. Eight to 24 megapixel images, found in modern digital SLRs, when combined with high-end lenses, can approximate the detail of film prints from 35 mm film based SLRs.[11][not in citation given]

Camera SLRDisadvantages of digital cameras from

  • Whereas film cameras can have manual backups for electronic and electrical features, digital cameras are entirely dependent on an electrical supply (usually batteries but sometimes power cord when in ‘tethered’ mode).
  • Many digital sensors have less dynamic range than color print film. However, some newer CCDs such as Fuji’s Super CCD, which combines diodes of different sensitivity, have improved upon this issue.
  • When highlights burn out, they burn to white without details, while film cameras retain a reduced level of detail, as discussed above.
  • High ISO image noise may manifest as multicolored speckles in digital images, rather than the less-objectionable “grain” of high-ISO film. While this speckling can be removed by noise-reduction software, either in-camera or on a computer, this can have a detrimental effect on image quality as fine detail may be lost in the process.
  • Aliasing may add patterns to images that do not exist and would not appear in film.

For most consumers in prosperous countries such as the United States and Western Europe, the advantages of digital cameras outweigh their disadvantages. However, some professional photographers still prefer film. Much of the post-shooting work done by a photo lab for film is done by the photographers themselves for digital images. Concerns that have been raised by professional photographers include: editing and post-processing of RAW files can take longer than 35mm film, downloading a large number of images to a computer can be time-consuming, shooting in remote sites requires the photographer to carry a number of batteries and add to the load to carry, equipment failure—while all cameras may fail, some film camera problems (e.g., meter or rangefinder problems, failure of only some shutter speeds) can be worked around. As time passes, it is expected that more professional photographers will switch to digital.


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