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Chapter 2. Inside a Digital Camera >  How a Digital Camera Works

How a Digital Camera Works

This section provides a quick look at how a digital camera works. You don’t really need to understand quantum physics to operate a digital camera, but a basic comprehension of what’s going on inside your picture box can help you troubleshoot vexing photographic challenges later on, plus, if you’re the typical serious photographer, satisfy your curiosity. While this explanation will be greatly simplified, you’ll find the concepts apply to virtually all the digital cameras on the market today.

Capturing the Image

The birth of a digital picture begins when illumination from a light source bounces off a subject (or is transmitted through a backlit translucent subject like a stained glass window). Each portion of the subject absorbs some of the wavelengths of light while allowing others to find their way to your camera’s lens ([1] on the diagram shown in Figure 2.5). In the illustration, I show only two big fat “beams” of rainbow-colored light passing through the front of the lens, when in truth there are zillions, all composed of photons (light particles) that behave as if they were waves. (Wave/particle duality is one of those quantum physics puzzles we’re going to steer clear of!)


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