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Chapter 1. Digital Camera Raw > The Camera Sensor

The Camera Sensor

A raw file is a record of the sensor data, so let's look at what the sensor in a digital camera actually captures. A number of different technologies get lumped into the category of “digital camera,” but virtually all the cameras supported by the Camera Raw plug-in are of the type known as “mosaic sensor” or “color filter array” cameras (“virtually all” because versions 2.2 and later of Camera Raw also support the Sigma cameras based on Foveon's X3 technology—see “The Foveon X3 Difference,” later in this chapter). The first key point is that striped-array raw files are grayscale!

Color filter array cameras use a two-dimensional area array to collect the photons that are recorded in the image. The array is made up of rows and columns of photosensitive detectors—typically using either CCD (charge-coupled device) or CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) technology—to form the image. In a typical setup, each element of the array contributes one pixel to the final image (see Figure 1-1).


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