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Digital photography is a major step forward in technology, but a digital camera won’t compose and take pictures for you. You must learn, practice and apply the compositional concepts and techniques that you’ll find in the PhotographyTalk.com library of how-to articles. To enjoy your digital photography experience, there are also a few digital-camera-only concepts that are important to understand.
Be Wary of the Pixel Comparison.
Digital cameras (or more specifically their sensors) are often rated, according to the number of pixels. Not all pixels are created equal, however. The size and quality of the pixels is often a better measuring stick than the number of pixels. Fewer pixels of a larger size can produce a sharper digital photo than more pixels that are smaller. Refer also to “overall resolution” and “effective resolution” in the PhotographyTalk.com Digital Photography Dictionary.
Optical Zoom vs. Digital Zoom.
Always choose optical zoom over digital zoom. Optical zoom captures more details of the images that are received by the camera sensor. Digital zoom is typical used after the image has been converted to data to crop it for compositional reasons.
Sensors Are Challenged By Details.
Film is often still better at reproducing details in the shadows and highlights than the sensor in your digital camera. You must make sure to exposure for those details correctly, since even photo-editing software won’t allow you to correct them on your computer.
Film Grain vs. Digital Noise.
The science of film and prints causes a grain pattern to be produced when exposed to light. The science of digital photography, however, produces more regular patterns that may look like rows and columns. This is often referred to as digital noise. It’s another important specification to know when buying a digital camera.
The Black-and-White Process.
You can’t shoot black-and-white photos with a digital camera, but there may be reasons you would want some of your color pictures to be black and white. The solution is to learn how to use photo-editing software. Those skills are just as essential as darkroom skills were during the days of film photography; and once you’ve acquired them you can easily manipulate your digital images in many more ways, including making them black and white. Read the PhotographyTalk.com article, Digital Photography—It’s Free! It’s Easy! GIMP Photo Editing Software, for more information.
Free to Create.
Digital cameras have much more versatility than film cameras, in terms of features and functions, and many are automatic, such as exposure, focusing, white balance, etc. Now, you are able to create more kinds of photos in the camera, eliminating all that time film photographers spend in the darkroom.
Choice of File Types.
Another example of digital photography’s versatility is the choice of cameras that generate JPEG and/or RAW files. Generally, RAW files include all of the data of the images you shoot in a “raw” or unprocessed form. JPEG files are processed in your digital camera from the RAW files, so they only contain part of the image data. Read the PhotographyTalk.com article, Digital Photography—Why You Should Be Shooting Raw Files.
Consider buying a digital camera that includes both an LCD screen and viewfinder. Then, learn how to use the viewfinder most of the time, since the LCD screen draws a large amount of power from the batteries.
Reading the Histogram.
Find the histogram data on your camera (typically a selection in the menu) and learn how to use it as another method to take properly exposed digital photos in your camera. You won’t have to spend time at the computer adjusting so many photos with editing software. Read the PhotographyTalk.com article, Digital Photography—Learn How to See the Picture Differently, with Histograms.
Digital photography has its own kinds of imperfections, but they’re different than those that appear on film. The science and technology of digital capture and processing creates various image flaws, but you can fix most of them with photo-editing software, which is another reason to learn it.