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Digital Media: Photography

Digital photography differs from conventional photography, which uses light sensitive photographic paper and chemical processing to develop and stabilize a still image. A digital photographer uses equipment that captures an image focused by a lens through an array of light sensitive sensors. A digital camera stores the captured image on a digital file where it waits for future processing, such as color correction, sizing, cropping, viewing, and printing. As opposed to its predecessor, digital photography relies solely on computer technology for its display, storage, manipulation, transmission, printing, and archiving of each image without chemical processing. Digital photographers may also use non-photographic equipment, such as radio telescopes and computer tomography scanners. In addition, conventional photographic images can be passed through a digital scanner and then processed for further refinement.


NASA developed the first digital camera and took a spacecraft image of Mars on July 15th, 1965. An engineer at Eastman Kodak attempted to build the first digital camera in 1975. Steven Sasson's prototype was built with the CCD image sensor chips originally produced in 1973 by Fairchild Semiconductor. Sasson's digital camera prototype recorded in black and white images and weighed roughly eight pounds. It had a resolution of 0.01 megapixels, and required the user to wait twenty three second intervals between shots. Sasson's prototype was a technical experiment, and never made it into mass production.

Fuji, a film-based manufacturer, did not release the first official digital camera until 1988. The Fuji DS-1P recorded digital files to a 16 MB memory card, and used a battery to store the data in its memory. This digital camera never reached the United States, and had limited distribution in Japan, according to rumor. However, the Dycam Model 1, also known as the Logitech Fotoman, was the first commercially produced digital camera available for purchase. The Logitech Fotoman's features included a CCD image sensor, digital image storage, and computer connectivity for download.

Techniques, Tutorials, and Tips

A digital camera takes a great deal of patience to master its overall functionality. Digital camera photographers must understand how each component works within the equipment itself, such as the image sensors, aperture, ISO, shutter speed, metering, depth of field, camera lenses, white balance, and the autofocus. Digital photographers must have an in-depth understanding of picture quality, such as bit depth, sharpness, image noise, and dynamic range. Professionals understand how the camera sensor sizes influence the overall photography. In addition, professional digital camera photographers understand the pixel size, aperture, and airy disks of diffraction. Other advanced concepts include the digital camera versus the human eye depth perception, and the core principle of hyper focal distance.


Digital photography involves more than mastering the equipment. Photo-editing and post-processing ensures that the final product comes out as desired. For instance, digital photographers should understand the difference between a JPEG and TIFF image file, bit depth, and the perks of using RAW files. Digital photographers should understand histograms, levels tools, curves tools, and image posterization. Other important aspects of photoediting include sharpening image detail, image resizing, image stacking, multiple exposures, photostitching, image cropping, image filtering, digital panoramas, and specialty techniques related to photography techniques and styles.

Commercial Photography

Commercial photography embodies a broad range of career fields focused on capturing images for payment, instead of artistic expression or personal enjoyment. A third party offers a professional photographer a monetary proposition that usually carries strict guidelines or stipulations. For instance, advertisers approach established photographers to capture still images that convey certain messages about specific products, services, events, or ideas in the hope of obtaining the approval of an audience. Commercial photographers may participate in one of several niche career fields, including advertising, fashion and glamor, crime scene investigation, still life, food, editorial, portrait, wedding, landscape, wildlife, and paparazzi photography. Each of these subsets of commercial photography demonstrates the general public's fascination with pictures contained within magazines, newspapers, advertisements, and network television. In fact, the photo-crazed public has caused thousands of corporations, businesses, institutions, political groups, and even governments to invest in photographic services.

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