Evolution of Digital Cameras
The History of Digital Technology
Digital cameras differ from traditional cameras in many ways. But the basic difference is that they use solid state image sensors to convert light to digital pictures rather than capturing the image on film. Digital imaging has actually been around for a long period of time, but it has been used for other purposes.
The history of digital technology began very early. NASA began dealing with digital imaging technology as far back as the 1960s, just as it did with many inventions that have become public domain, and NASA used it to convert signals from analogue to digital. The signals were acquired with space probes and the signals which were converted to images, mapped the moon's surface.
Very soon, other governmental sectors saw the opportunities and advantages of this emerging digital technology and they began a similar program involving spy satellites. Today similar applications are available for free to anyone with internet access. For example Google's satellite maps show the whole world and even the moon.
Development of Digital Cameras
The true digital cameras did not simply emerge as a new consumer product. There were several other products developed fist, which led to its creation.
Digital cameras as we know them today first became available for consumers around the mid 70s. At that time, Kodak developed a number of solid state image sensors which converted available light into digital images. The target customers for the new Kodak digital cameras were both professionals and hobbyists.
Then in 1986, Kodak developed the original mega pixel sensing unit, with the ability of capturing 1.4 million pixels. Finally, a 5x7-inch digital high quality print was available to consumers.
From that point on the camera industry began to develop faster and the ability to connect to the home computer to download pictures was introduced. The development was combined with software to manipulate and edit pictures, and special printers dedicated to digital photography.
How do Digital Cameras Work?
In the digital world, data, or information, is represented by strings of 1's and 0's. In this case these digits translate to the individual pixels or basic units that combine to make up the image you see. When the capture button on the camera is pressed, a charge coupled device (also known as a CCD) creates an electron equivalent of the captured light which in turn ends up converting the pixel value into a digital value.
Each picture is stored in the camera's memory until it is downloaded to its destination, usually a computer or a CD. Usually, the form of camera memory is a memory card which can be replaced. Indeed, this is one of the great advantages over traditional cameras – you don’t have to buy films.
Important Features to Look for in a Digital Camera
Resolution is one of the most important features and in many cases it is one of the top features that determine a camera's price. Resolution is a measure of detail that a specific camera will capture. The basic unit of measurement when referring to digital camera resolution is the pixel. The higher the number of pixels the better the is camera, because a higher level of detail is captured. This becomes important when you wish to extend pictures to larger sizes.
Digital cameras are rated in megapixels (millions of pixels). A 1.0 megapixel camera is considered not to be of quality while a 5.0 megapixel camera is often used in professional digital photography when creating studio grade portraits or taking pictures for a wedding, for example.
The lens is very important when it comes to digital cameras because it focuses directly into what you intend to use the digital camera for. A lens that has a fixed focus and fixed zoom should just be used for simple snapshots. Zoom lenses come in two forms: the optical zoom lens and the digital zoom lens. The optical zoom is preferable because it zooms by changing the actual focal length of the lens whereas the digital zoom uses an interpolation algorithm to zoom; it “infers” information by evaluating neighbour information. This results in a grainy photo.
Replaceable lenses are found on many higher end cameras. The good thing about them is that they increase the camera's versatility. There can be found: zoom lenses, close-up lenses, colour lenses for effects, and panoramic lenses.
How many useful digital camera accessories are available for a particular model? As already mentioned above, some cameras, like Kodak, offer a docking system which not only is the interface to the computer but also doubles as a battery charger when the camera is not in use, ensuring that it starts off with a full charge when needed.
Choosing a digital camera is not easy, but if you have decided which particular model you need, you will enjoy taking digital pictures wherever you go to: on vacation, at a family dinner, at a party with friends, at school, etc.