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Part I: Your Lean, Mean Pixel Machine > Inside a Digital Camera

Chapter 2. Inside a Digital Camera

Today’s digital camera didn’t just drop out of the sky, fully formed. Even though digital cameras are a relatively recent innovation in the 165-year history of photography, the road to all-electronic digital photography has been a gradual transition, extending over decades. Solid-state technology began to intertwine itself into the workings of conventional cameras more than 20 years ago, as electronic metering was joined by electronic shutters, programmed exposure modes, automatic focus, and other computer-oriented innovations in film cameras. If you first became active in photography in the digital era, you may be surprised to learn that many of the key features of modern digital cameras were first found in film cameras.

Indeed, since motorized film transport became common, advanced film cameras and the most sophisticated digital models that followed have had more in common than not. Some of the newest cameras with interchangeable lenses—both film and digital—use electronics to set both the shutter speed and lens aperture. Nikon’s G series lenses, for example, don’t have an aperture ring at all. You set the f-stop with camera controls. Many of the early high-end digital cameras were little more than 35mm SLRs with a sensor located where the film plane ought to be. If you’re comfortable using one of the latest film cameras, you’ll be right at home using many of the current digital models.


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