Digital photography

Digital photography uses cameras containing arrays of electronic photodetectors interfaced to an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) to produce images focused by a lens, as opposed to an exposure on photographic film. The digitized image is stored as a computer file ready for further digital processing, viewing, electronic publishing, or digital printing.

The Mars Orbiter Camera selected by NASA in 1986 costing US$44 million to procure contains a 32-bit radiation-hardened 10 MHz processor and 12 MB of DRAM, then considered state of the art
Nikon D700 — a 12.1-megapixel full-frame DSLR
The Canon PowerShot A95

Digital photography spans a wide range of applications with a long history. In the space industry, where much of the technology originated, it pertains to highly customized, embedded systems combined with sophisticated remote telemetry.

Any electronic image sensor can be digitized, this was achieved as far back as 1951. The modern era in digital photography is dominated by the semiconductor industry, which evolved later. An early semiconductor milestone was the advent of the charge-coupled device (CCD) image sensor, first demonstrated in April 1970; the field has advanced rapidly and continuously ever since, paced by concurrent advances in photolithographic fabrication. A persistent challenge in semiconductor fabrication is that chips much larger that 1 cm sq. are expensive to produce without defects, confining large image sensor formats compatible with traditional 35 mm optics to professional and prosumer markets.

As a product category at retail, apart from the enthusiast digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) category, most digital cameras now come with an electronic viewfinder, which approximates the final photograph in real time, which can also review and adjust (or delete) a captured photograph within seconds, making this a form of instant photography, as compared to most photochemical cameras from the preceding era.

Moreover, the onboard computational resources are usually able to perform aperture adjustment and focus adjustment (via inbuilt servomotors) as well as setting the exposure level automatically, so these technical burdens are removed from the photographer unless the photographer feels competent to intercede—and the camera offers traditional controls. As electronic devices by nature, most digital cameras are instant, mechanized, and automatic in some or all functions. Digital cameras may choose to emulate traditional manual controls (rings, dials, sprung levers, and buttons) or it may instead provide a touchscreen interface for all functions; most camera phones fall into the latter category.

In the creative space, digital photos are often combined with other digital images obtained from scanography and other methods that are often used in digital art or media art.

Until the advent of such technology, photographs were made by exposing light sensitive photographic film and paper, which was processed in liquid chemical solutions to develop and stabilize the image. Digital photographs are typically created solely by computer-based photoelectric and mechanical techniques, without wet bath chemical processing.

The first consumer digital cameras were marketed in the late 1990s.[1] Professionals gravitated to digital slowly, and were won over when their professional work required using digital files to fulfill the demands of employers and/or clients, for faster turn-around than conventional methods would allow.[2] Starting around 2000, digital cameras were incorporated in cell phones and in the following years, cell phone cameras became widespread, particularly due to their connectivity to social media websites and email. Since 2010, the digital point-and-shoot and DSLR formats have also seen competition from the mirrorless digital camera format, which typically provides better image quality than the point-and-shoot or cell phone formats but comes in a smaller size and shape than the typical DSLR. Many mirrorless cameras accept interchangeable lenses and have advanced features through an electronic viewfinder, which replaces the through-the-lens finder image of the SLR format.


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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Digital photography, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.