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Shedding light on digital cameras

Shedding light on digital cameras - PCSTATS
Abstract: People are buying up digital cameras like peanuts at the zoo because they allow the photographer to bypass that pesky development stage. Wanna know how they really work?
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: None Sep 14 2000   J. Prikryl  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > None

Pixels and Images

Each pixel immediately registers the quantity of light that hit it during the instant the photo was taken. Each pixel registers a different electric charge depending on the amount of light it received. This charge is then passed along to something called an analog-to-digital converter (ADC). The ADC translates each pixel's electric charge to a numerical value. This numerical value determines in digital terms the colour of each particular pixel. Once this is done, the digital value of the pixels is transmitted to the digital signal processor (DSP), which compresses the information and places it in the camera's memory.

And hey presto! the photo is taken. Now it can be removed from the camera via the storage card it's been saved on; it can be transferred to a computer, tinkered with, sent to all and sundry pals, or simply printed out and slapped in an album.

Of course, if you've planning to make a physical copy of the picture, be prepared for its quality to be slightly worse than what you're used to with conventional cameras. The chief limitations of digital cameras so far are their expense and their picture quality. A digital camera will run you at least $250, and unless you spend substantially more than that, its final product won't rival the old-fashioned film photo.

This is largely because the DSP, in compressing the digital image, removes so-called redundancies in order to enable a greater number of shots to be stored in the camera's memory. Some digital cameras allow you to use something called a CCD Raw mode, which results in zero compression of the image. If you don't have this option on your camera, however, compression means the image loses certain subtleties that film photos retain. Of course, if your main purpose is taking pictures you can send instantly to friends in distant lands, then there's never been a better time to nab a digital camera and get snap-happy.

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Contents of Article: None
 Pg 1.  Shedding light on digital cameras
 Pg 2.  — Pixels and Images

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