How a Digital Camera Works

How a Digital Camera Works

Digital cameras are quite similar to traditional cameras in their operation. They both have a lens to focus the image, a shutter to allow light inside the camera, and an aperture to control the amount of light which enters the camera.

The differences between digital and traditional photography occur after the light enters the camera. A traditional camera captures the images on film, while a digital camera captures the image on an image sensor.

Image sensors are electronic devices made up of an array of electrodes (or photosites) which measure light intensity. The most common type of image sensor for digital cameras is the CCD (Charge-Coupled Device) although others such as CMOS and Foveon are sometimes used.

The number of photosites in the image sensor gives the digital camera its megapixel (millions of pixels) rating. Each photosite corresponds to a pixel in the final image, so a camera which is rated at six megapixels, for example, has an image sensor which is 3008 pixels wide by 2000 pixels high.

When light hits the image sensor it is converted into electrical signals which are amplified and fed to an analog-to-digital (A/D) converter. The A/D converter changes the electrical signal into binary numbers which are processed by a computer housed in the camera body. Once the numbers have been processed the resulting image is stored on a memory card.

Photosites can only measure intensity of light — not colour. In order to produce a colour image, each photosite must be covered with a coloured filter which can be red, blue, or green. These are the three primary colours which can be combined to produce any other colour including white.

The coloured filters are arranged in a grid so that there are twice as many green filters as there are red or blue. This is because the human eye is twice as sensitive to green light. Filters are arranged in a pattern called the Bayer pattern – one row of red, green, red, green (etc.), and the next row of blue, green, blue, green (etc).

Since each photosite can only be covered with one coloured filter, computer processing is necessary to produce a full coloured image. This is done by analyzing each individual pixel and its immediate neighbors and producing a composite colour from these calculations. For example, if a bright red pixel is surrounded by bright green and bright blue pixels, the bright red pixel must actually be white, because white is the combination of red, blue, and green. This process is called demosaicing.

After demosaicing the image is adjusted according to the settings on your camera. Most cameras have settings for brightness, contrast, and colour saturation. After these adjustments are made some cameras may also apply a sharpening algorithm to make the image clearer.

The final step before saving the image on the memory card is to compress it. Most cameras use JPEG as a compression format. This reduces the size of the file by eliminating excess data. This data cannot be recovered, so JPEG is called a ‘lossy’ format.

Many cameras have the ability to save uncompressed images as TIFF files or raw data. Raw data is the original photosite data even before demosaicing. It can be transferred to a computer for processing with special software that will perform all of the processing functions of the camera but with much greater control.

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Classic Photography vs Digital Photography

Classic Photography vs Digital Photography

cameras-film-digital

Even though digital photography is a revolutionary new way to take pictures, it is very much based on traditional photography and uses many of the same principals. Both types of photography require a lens to focus the light and a shutter to allow the light to enter the camera. The main difference between digital and traditional photography is how the image is captured.

Traditional photography uses film which must be developed in a darkroom using various chemicals. The developing process produces ‘negatives’ which must be printed before you can see the picture. Digital photography uses an electronic sensor to capture the image. The sensor is made up of millions of individual ‘pixels’ (picture elements) which convert light into a number. Rather than waiting for the picture to be developed, digital pictures can be seen almost instantaneously on the viewfinder of the digital camera.

The quality of a digital photograph depends a lot on how many pixels it has. The number of pixels is sometimes referred to as the ‘resolution’ of an image, and can be expressed as a dimension (800 x 600), or the number of pixels per inch. A common resolution for computer screens is 800 x 600 and this means the monitor can display 800 pixels from side to side and 600 pixels from top to bottom for a total of 480,000. Digital photography commonly uses much higher resolutions than computer screens with resolutions in the millions of pixels (megapixels). A camera with a resolution of 2048 x 1536 has a total resolution of 3.1 megapixels.

As mentioned above, each pixel is represented by a number. The size of that number determines the colours scale that can be represented. For example, black-and-white pictures can be represented with pixels which are just eight bits in length. If you are familiar with binary arithmetic, you know that an 8-bit number can represent decimal numbers from 0 to 256. Black-and-white photographs, therefore, can have a total of 255 shades of gray as well as black (0) and white (256).

Colour must be represented with larger numbers. 16 bits per pixel, for example, is necessary to have a colour scale of 65,536 different shades. 24 bits per pixel can represent more than 16 million different colours. Most digital cameras use 24 bits per pixel, but some professional equipment has a colour resolution of up to 48 bits per pixel for more than 280 billion different shades.

There are several factors that affect the quality of a digital camera, but pixel resolution is usually seen as the most important. Choosing an adequate pixel resolution depends a lot on the size of the photographs you want to print. Keep in mind that the number of pixels in an image does not change, so pictures with larger dimensions will have fewer pixels per inch which results in a loss of detail if the picture size becomes too big.

Photo labs usually print pictures at 300 pixels per inch, so using this as a standard measurement you can calculate how many megapixels your camera should have. The maximum print from a two megapixel camera at 300 pixels per inch is 5.8″ x 3.8″ — less than the standard 4″ x 6″. A camera with four megapixels can print pictures to a maximum size of 8.2″ x 5.4″ at 300 pixels per inch.

Of course, there is nothing to stop you from printing larger pictures. Pictures printed at 200 pixels per inch are slightly less sharp but still quite acceptable for many purposes. At this resolution, you can get pictures up to 8.7″ x 5.8″ from a two megapixel camera, and 12.2″ x 8.2″ from a four megapixel camera.

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Digital Photography: Finding the Camera That Suits You Best

Digital Photography: Finding the Camera That Suits You Best

pexels-photoChoosing the right digital camera when undertaking a new hobby or profession in digital photography will be the key element to your success and photo quality. With such a wide range of camera types and prices, it’s important to know every option that’s available to you and buy only what suits your needs.

Equipment Costs

Your digital photography budget may be limited, so determine first how much you’ll be willing and able to spend and take a portion off for the additional accessories you’ll require such as memory cards, batteries, a tripod, and a camera bag. Once you know what you have left to spend on the camera itself, determine which features you think you’ll absolutely need and which ones will be useless to you. As you progress in your digital photography skills and interest, you may decide to upgrade, but buying an inexpensive digital camera to start off with can be an excellent device to learn on.

Camera and Photo Size

Digital cameras come in all shapes and sizes and some can be big and bulky while others are incredibly compact. A tiny camera may be less cumbersome to shoot with, but keep in mind that it may not have as many added features or might not photograph with the same quality a larger one would have. Photo size is something else to consider because digital cameras with less megapixels will not be able to provide decent quality for large photos. More megapixels will allow your photo to be printed on a larger scale while retaining the proper resolution and preventing pixelation.

Additional Features

A large LCD screen can be very handy when trying to review your pictures as you take them. Especially when photographing in extreme lighting conditions, such as too sunny or too dark, a bright, large screen can allow you to see the shots you’ve taken much more clearly. When it comes to zooming, pay attention to whether the zoom feature is optical zoom or digital zoom. Optical zoom will extend the lens of your camera while digital will just magnify the image. Magnifying could result in loss of quality, so choosing an optical zoom feature whenever possible will give you better shots.

Too many features could make your camera more difficult to use and will likely increase the price of that device. Decide in advance which features you’ll require to prevent overpaying and buying things you don’t need. In time, if you become more serious with your digital photography endeavors, you may find you’ll need to upgrade and at that point you’ll likely have a more specific idea of your camera needs.

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Mastering the Basics of Digital Photography

Mastering the Basics of Digital Photography

pexels-photo-12696Digital photography can be a great hobby or a lucrative profession. Some people take pictures mainly to capture memories of family and friends while others are avid shooters of sunsets and landscapes. Whatever your reasons for taking pictures, knowing a little about digital photography can make a huge difference in the quality of your photos.

Reading the Manual

For the most part, no one likes pouring over a long manual to learn what their electronics can do. People often just attempt to learn through practice and figure things out on their own. With your digital camera, you could be overlooking a lot of features that come with it and some of these settings will make quite a difference in how your pictures turn out. You don’t need to adjust every setting manually, but for times when you’re in extreme lighting conditions or unusual weather it can be handy to know which setting will correct the inconveniences of your environment.

Experiment and Play

A lot of new digital camera users are afraid to change any settings on their camera in fear that they won’t be able to change things back. Again, reading your manual can give you the knowledge to restore settings. When a photo doesn’t look exactly how you’d like it to, take the same picture over and over with every different setting you can think of. With time and practice, you’ll know what each setting can do and you’ll barely have to think when it comes to deciding which mode to use for every situation.

Using different lighting, angles, and composition can also have quite an effect on your photo’s outcome. Trying different things with backlighting, object placement, and subject centering could turn your plain old photo into something incredibly pleasing to the eye with highlighting and shadowing you wouldn’t have expected.

Editing Software

Your digital photography self education shouldn’t stop at your camera. Once you get your photos uploaded to your computer, use the software provided to fix any little flaws, colour issues, or unwanted noise. Experimenting with these settings will introduce you to new effects and editing techniques you may have never thought of trying before.

Digital photography has a unique advantage over film by allowing you to view your photo immediately and delete what you don’t like. This makes experimenting with settings and lighting much easier because you can see right away what kind of effect you’ll be getting. With time, practice, and familiarity with your camera, deciding which settings or angle to use will become more and more natural and you’re increasing skills will be reflected in your work.

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Advantages of Digital Photography

Advantages of Digital Photography

PhotographerDigital technology is finding a place in almost everyone’s lives. From digital music to digital movies we are constantly exposed to images and sound that have passed from the traditional analog domain into the new digital formats. Digital photography is one of those formats and is becoming more popular every year.

There are lots of reasons for that popularity. Digital photographs are incredibly versatile. You can send them to friends and family by email, post them on a web site, transfer them to CD, store them on your computer, and use them for slide shows which can be viewed on your TV or computer monitor. They can of course be printed, and not just as traditional 4×6 pictures. They can be used to make personalized calendars, greeting cards, and even be printed on objects like coffee mugs and t-shirts.

For many people, the biggest advantage of digital photography is that it eliminates the need for picture processing. No more trips to the photo store – pictures can be viewed almost instantly on the display screen of the camera. Since there is no developing, digital photography doesn’t need dangerous chemicals that could end up in our water supplies.

Another big advantage of digital photos is the ease with which they can be edited. Computer software allows digital images to be altered in any way imaginable. They can be cropped, the colours can be changed or enhanced, the contrast can be adjusted, imperfections can be removed, and images can be combined to create startling new designs. All this can be accomplished in a few seconds with just a few key strokes or mouse clicks.

Using a digital camera is the best way to take advantage of all the features of digital photography, but you can also use a traditional film camera and convert your negatives to the digital domain. If you are uncertain about whether or not to take the digital plunge, converting negatives allows you to get a taste of the wonders of digital photography without investing in new equipment. Most photo developing stores offer this service.

Digital cameras, however, offer so much more than film cameras. They have a viewing screen which functions as both a view finder and a picture viewer. This means you can preview pictures you’ve taken just seconds before. If you don’t like it just delete it, or if there is a section that is good, crop it before saving it back to the camera’s memory. Many digital cameras also function as simple video recorders that can capture video along with sound – anywhere, anytime.

All this must come at a hefty price tag, though – right? Wrong! Digital photography is becoming more affordable every year, and the technology to make fabulous photos is well within the reach of the average consumer. Add in the money you’ll save in development costs and you have an affordable, practical, solution for all your photography needs.

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The best photo design programs

The best photo design programs

LargeScrShot41On the market today there are numerous photo design programs that aim at private users, the amateur or professional photographers. Each of these programs has its strengths and weaknesses, and are useful for a specific audience. There are three photo design programs that have proven successful in their field and thus setting themselves apart from the crowd.

Professional: Adobe Photoshop CS

For professional users Photoshop CS is made by Adobe indispensable and is the standard among Fotodesign programs. The use with Adobe Photoshop CS leaves nothing to be desired. Whether image editing, image modification or creation of new images and the creativity of the designer Photo There are no limits to the performance graphics tools. The creation of templates for websites are no match for the all-round talent. Ready Adobe Photoshop CS is under MacOS X and Windows, but the high price of about 900 euros makes the program unattractive for the amateur or home users.

For the amateur: Corel Paint Shop Pro

For much less money, at a starting price of about 60 euros, but with a similar, limited extent, is the amateur Paint Shop Pro from Corel at the start. Target of Corel is to integrate in Paint Shop Pro ever more functions with the same functions as in Photoshop CS. The program is also very good for photo editing and manipulation. However, in the professional editing, and in the creation of web templates, photo design pushes program to its limits. Corel Paint Shop Pro is only available for Windows.

For private users: open source Gimp

But those who now want to spend any money, but still want to use a good photo design program to create a simple logo can be very well advised with the open source program Gimp. Besides supporting almost all popular image formats, the program may have a wealth of tools that allow you to edit photos in a professional manner. Although the program still has some weaknesses, the work is very pleasant. To create web templates to Gimp is less, but there is a large fan base on the web, the tutorial has created how to riff almost the same effects as with Photoshop CS. Application of Gimp is Linux, MacOS X and Windows.

Why divide a picture to three and how will it affect our photography skills

Why divide a picture to three and how will it affect our photography skills

rule_of_the_thirdsThe rule of thirds (AKA the Law of Thirds) is one of the fundamental rules used in the art of photography. But, while the rule of thirds is meant to help you build a good composition, originally itwasn’t created for photographers. The rule of thirds was used by painters many years prior the invention of the Camera Obscura. Painters noticed way back that the effect created once they placed the central object in one of the ends of the painting – was much stronger than placing it at the center of the canvas.

Rule of thirds
The intensity relies on the location of the girl

The rule of thirds: what is it exactly?

3 thirds rulerule of thirdsThe “thirds” are no more than imaginary crossing lines that divide the image into three vertical sections, and three horizontal ones – Nine sections in total.

Notice how the central objects in the following photos are located more or less at the corners of the central square (e.g. One third of the way from top to bottom and right to left).

If you take a picture with the use autofocus, shift the camera right or left, up or down, so that the object will be located at one of these imaginary intersection lines (These lines will not appear on your camera as they are imaginary, so it’s not critical whether you place the object exactly at the point of intersection or anywhere near that point).

How to use the thirds in portrait pictures
In most cases, the main object in a portrait will cover a large part of the photo. In this case, it is customary to choose a central part in the face of the object and place it at one of the intersection thirds. The nearest eye, for example, or bulging lips – can act as a good center to be shift at one of the intersection points.

The rule of thirds and photography of motion

The rule of thirds also refers to objects in motion. In this case, it is important to distinguish the object’s direction of movement: If, for example, you shoot a car going from right to left, place the car at the right third of the image, and thereby allow the viewer to see “where the car was going”. This, of course, is true in most cases. On the other hand, you may wish to emphasize the car’s route or the trails it leaves behind – but usually it is costume to see the object as if it was on the move. The same applies if, for example, you wish to take a picture of a man glazing at the horizon – in this case, we would like to see in which direction he’s looking at and place him at the right third in order to emphasize it.

 

rules_of_thirds

The picture on the right illustrates the boat at the end of its course. Notice how in this case the composition is not acceptable, since there is no “interesting story” behind the photo as it is not clear where the boat is sailing.  The central picture illustrates a symmetrical composition.  The left picture creates an acceptable composition: the boat is located at the lower right third of the frame, so you can also see its direction. Notice also how the symmetry in this picture doesn’t “bore the eye”, but creates interest.

 

When can you break the rule of thirds

Do not be afraid to break the rule of thirds in any case it appears that your composition might get improved by it. Whether you’d like the effect of a symmetrical perspective, or whether it’s important to show some more objects in the frame and thus the central object “moves” to the center – that’s fine.

In many cases the scene designates the necessity of breaching the rule of thirds.

Jump into the wonderful world of photography and choose the gear that’s right for you.

Jump into the wonderful world of photography and choose the gear that’s right for you.

camera_2You can become a skilled photographer regardless of the gear you choose

Become professional photographers with any equipment

Before you head to the store and buy an expensive camera or camera equipment, you should read up on what’s available – you will save a bundle and you will find the gear that will stay with you for years.

Digital cameras – which should you choose – a compact camera or a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera? Maybe you should go for a half way solution like a semi-pro camera? In any case, what should you really be looking for when buying a camera?
Camera lenses – which lens is best for your camera? What should you buy right away and what should you ask your rich relative to buy you for your birthday?
Professional cameras – learn how to buy a professional camera that will produce professional-grade photos.
Camera bags – how to choose a case or a bag for your camera. Should you go for a large bag that would fit a tripod, or a compact bag that will be easy to lug around?
Tripods – why is a tripod so essential? Is a travel tripod enough, or should you go for an extra sturdy one with 3 or even 5 legs?
Cleaning kits – what to look for in a cleaning kit and how to avoid worthless cleaning kits. Also, how to ruin a perfectly good camera lens in 30 seconds? (By cleaning it with your shirt sleeve…)
Lens filters – which filters are the most popular with beginners, and to manipulate your photos without using Photoshop.

Reflectors – spread light evenly with a homemade reflector made with aluminum foil and foam board. Also, what items can be used as natural light reflectors?
Camera flash – how to choose a camera flash. Is your built-in flash enough, or should you splurge on an external flash (that can blind you with its price tag)?
F-stops – what are F-stops and why understanding them will make you a happier person (or at least make you look happier in pictures)?