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Chapter 1. What Is Digital Photography? > How Digital Photography Differs

How Digital Photography Differs

A digital camera offers some remarkable advantages over film photography. The immediacy of seeing your pictures on the spot alone may be enough to outweigh the disadvantages. But there are many other reasons to make the jump from film.

Digital Photography Advantages

  • Immediacy

    The majority of digital cameras have a built-in screen, so you can see the picture you just took as soon as you take it. You will never again have to wonder if a shot came out right.

  • Usability

    You can transfer your pictures to your computer directly from the camera, eliminating the need for a scanner (and its inherent distortions). So you could take a picture, transfer to the computer, and send it to a friend in a matter of minutes.

  • Reusability

    Digital cameras use storage cards to save pictures. After you transfer your work to a computer, you can delete the shots from the card and start over. So you will never have to buy film or have it processed.

  • Duplication

    A film camera produces a picture as either a negative for print making or a positive for use as a slide. If the original is lost or damaged, so is the picture. A digital image can be copied many times and not lose quality. And like your computer data, it can be backed up.

  • Adaptability

    Once you have taken a digital image, you can use it in many ways. You can save a high-quality version for printing and make a lower-resolution copy for use on a Web page or in email, all from the same image. You can do the same with scans of film images, but scanning introduces distortions and loss of quality. And scanning photos is time consuming to say the least.

  • Flexibility

    Most digital cameras have settings that allow you to easily compensate for different lighting situations. For instance, you can set the camera to automatically get rid of the reddish cast that shows up in pictures taken with incandescent light. You can adjust the flash settings to take pictures at night without losing the background. Although these features are sometimes available on film cameras, a digital camera allows you to immediately see the results.

  • Size

    A film camera has to be constructed to allow for the size of the roll of film. So even the smallest aren't that small. Digital cameras don't have this limitation, so they can be made smaller and in different shapes (Figure 1.1). This also allows manufacturers to create cameras with swivel lenses, so you can take a picture of a subject that is not directly in front of the camera.

    Figure 1.1. Dan loves his Nikon FM dearly, but he can fit the Olympus 510 digicam in his shirt pocket.



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