What is Digital Photography?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2019
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Few inventions can sincerely claim to be revolutionary, but digital photography certainly fits the bill. Unlike cameras that require film for their exposures, digital photography necessitates the use of digital cameras that record photo data on a digital sensor, rendering physical film obsolete. This method makes photography more affordable for consumers, and it also allows on-the-fly adjustments that were impossible or extremely difficult with film cameras. Digital photography has changed how people shoot and share their photos by using digital data that can be altered, sent via e-mail, or shared via the internet.

Digital photography eliminates the need for chemical processing, which was the norm with film cameras. Instead, images are stored on memory cards--such as compact flash cards--and can be transferred to a computer for manipulation and processing. Computer programs specially designed for photo editing can be used to change light settings, image size, and several other aspects of the photo. Further, the file size of the image can be changed for easier storage or sharing via e-mail or other computer-based methods.


Image quality is generally measured in resolution, or the sharpness of the image, and pixel count, which is the measure of single points that comprise the image. On higher end, Digital Single-lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras, the images will generally be sharper and higher quality, and digital prints will end up looking clearer and more professional. Simple point-and-shoot cameras can also take sharp pictures worthy of printing, but they generally will not attain the same image quality of DSLR cameras.

Another key advantage to digital photography is the availability of Liquid Crystal Displays, or LCDs. Almost all digital cameras have an LCD screen built into the back of the camera, which allows the user to preview the photo they have just taken. This screen makes digital cameras especially versatile because a user can instantly see if the shot came out well. If it did not, they can delete the photo immediately, adjust whatever settings need to be adjusted, and re-take the photo with little extra effort or time. Before digital photography, cameras were not equipped with these screens and the photographer was left largely to his or her own talents to ensure the shot came out correctly. If it did not come out correctly, the photographer would not know until processing was complete.

Digital photography also allows the photographer to change the ISO setting on the fly. The ISO setting changes the sensor's sensitivity to light, and therefore will affect whether the shot is under- or over-exposed. Before digital photography, if a photographer wanted to change ISO, he would have to change the entire roll of film, which could be cumbersome and costly. These are only a few of the advantages to digital photography, and for a more complete idea of what digital cameras can do, be sure to visit manufacturers' websites.


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