Digital camera


Digital camera

A digital camera (or digicam) is a camera that takes video or still photographs, or both, digitally by recording images via an electronic image sensor. It is the main device used in the field of digital photography. Most 21st century cameras are digital.[1]

Front and back of Canon PowerShot A95

Digital cameras can do things film cameras cannot: displaying images on a screen immediately after they are recorded, storing thousands of images on a single small memory device, and deleting images to free storage space. The majority, including most compact cameras, can record moving video with sound as well as still photographs. Some can crop and stitch pictures and perform other elementary image editing. Some have a GPS receiver built in, and can produce Geotagged photographs.

The optical system works the same as in film cameras, typically using a lens with a variable diaphragm to focus light onto an image pickup device. The diaphragm and shutter admit the correct amount of light to the imager, just as with film but the image pickup device is electronic rather than chemical. Most digicams, apart from camera phones and a few specialized types, have a standard tripod screw.

Digital cameras are incorporated into many devices ranging from PDAs and mobile phones (called camera phones) to vehicles. The Hubble Space Telescope and other astronomical devices are essentially specialized digital cameras.

Contents

Types of digital cameras

Digital cameras are made in a wide range of sizes, prices and capabilities. The majority are camera phones, operated as a mobile application through the cellphone menu. Professional photographers and many amateurs use larger, more expensive digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLR) for their greater versatility. Between these extremes lie digital compact cameras and bridge digital cameras that "bridge" the gap between amateur and professional cameras. Specialized cameras including multispectral imaging equipment and astrographs continue to serve the scientific, military, medical and other special purposes for which digital photography was invented.

Compact digital cameras

Subcompact with lens assembly retracted

Compact cameras are designed to be tiny and portable and are particularly suitable for casual and "snapshot" uses. Hence, they are also called point-and-shoot cameras. The smallest, generally less than 20 mm thick, are described as subcompacts or "ultra-compacts" and some are nearly credit card size.[2]

Most, apart from ruggedized or water-resistant models, incorporate a retractable lens assembly allowing a thin camera to have a moderately long focal length and thus fully exploit an image sensor larger than that on a camera phone, and a mechanized lens cap to cover the lens when retracted. The retracted and capped lens is protected from keys, coins and other hard objects, thus making it a thin, pocketable package. Subcompacts commonly have one lug and a short wrist strap which aids extraction from a pocket, while thicker compacts may have two lugs for attaching a neck strap.

Compact cameras are usually designed to be easy to use, sacrificing advanced features and picture quality for compactness and simplicity; images can usually only be stored using lossy compression (JPEG). Most have a built-in flash usually of low power, sufficient for nearby subjects. Live preview is almost always used to frame the photo. Most have limited motion picture capability. Compacts often have macro capability and zoom lenses but the zoom range is usually less than for bridge and DSLR cameras. Generally a contrast-detect autofocus system, using the image data from the live preview feed of the main imager, focuses the lens.

Typically, these cameras incorporate a nearly silent leaf shutter into their lenses.

For lower cost and smaller size, these cameras typically use image sensors with a diagonal of approximately 6 mm, corresponding to a crop factor around 6. This gives them weaker low-light performance, greater depth of field, generally closer focusing ability, and smaller components than cameras using larger sensors.

Starting in 2011, some compact digital cameras can take 3D still photos. These 3D compact stereo cameras can capture 3D panoramic photos for play back on a 3D TV.[3] Some of these are rugged and waterproof, and some have GPS, compass, barometer and altimeter. [4]

Bridge cameras

Sony DSC-H2

Bridge are higher-end digital cameras that physically and ergonomically resemble DSLRs and share with them some advanced features, but share with compacts the use of a fixed lens and a small sensor. Like compacts, most use live preview to frame the image. Their autofocus uses the same contrast-detect mechanism, but many bridge cameras have a manual focus mode, in some cases using a separate focus ring, for greater control. They originally "bridged" the gap between affordable point-and-shoot cameras and the then unaffordable earlier digital SLRs.

Due to the combination of big physical size but a small sensor, many of these cameras have very highly specified lenses with large zoom range and fast aperture, partially compensating for the inability to change lenses. On some, the lens qualifies as superzoom. To compensate for the lesser sensitivity of their small sensors, these cameras almost always include an image stabilization system to enable longer handheld exposures.

These cameras are sometimes marketed as and confused with digital SLR cameras since the appearance is similar. Bridge cameras lack the reflex viewing system of DSLRs, are usually fitted with fixed (non-interchangeable) lenses (although some have a lens thread to attach accessory wide-angle or telephoto converters), and can usually take movies with sound. The scene is composed by viewing either the liquid crystal display or the electronic viewfinder (EVF). Most have a longer shutter lag than a true dSLR, but they are capable of good image quality (with sufficient light) while being more compact and lighter than DSLRs. High-end models of this type have comparable resolutions to low and mid-range DSLRs. Many of these cameras can store images in a Raw image format, or processed and JPEG compressed, or both. The majority have a built-in flash similar to those found in DSLRs.

In bright sun, the quality difference between a good compact camera and a digital SLR is minimal but bridgecams are more portable, cost less and have a similar zoom ability to dSLR. Thus a Bridge camera may better suit outdoor daytime activities, except when seeking professional-quality photos.[5]

In low light conditions and/or at ISO equivalents above 800, most bridge cameras (or megazooms) lack in image quality when compared to even entry level DSLRs. However, they do have one major advantage: their much larger depth of field due to the small sensor as compared to a DSLR, allowing larger apertures with shorter exposure times.

A 3D Photo Mode was introduced in 2011, whereby the camera automatically takes a second image from a slightly different perspective and provides a standard .MPO file for stereo display. [6]

Mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera

In late 2008, a new type of camera emerged, combining the larger sensors and interchangeable lenses of DSLRs with the live-preview viewing system of compact cameras, either through an electronic viewfinder or on the rear LCD. These are simpler and more compact than DSLRs due to the removal of the mirror box, and typically emulate the handling and ergonomics of either DSLRs or compacts. The system is used by Micro Four Thirds, borrowing components from the Four Thirds DSLR system.

Digital single lens reflex cameras

Cutaway of an Olympus E-30 DSLR

Digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) are digital cameras based on film single-lens reflex cameras (SLRs). They take their name from their unique viewing system, in which a mirror reflects light from the lens through a separate optical viewfinder. At the moment of exposure the mirror flips out of the way, making a distinctive "clack" sound and allowing light to fall on the imager.

Since no light reaches the imager during framing, autofocus is accomplished using specialized sensors in the mirror box itself. Most 21st century DSLRs also have a "live view" mode that emulates the live preview system of compact cameras, when selected.

These cameras have much larger sensors than the other types, typically 18 mm to 36 mm on the diagonal (crop factor 2, 1.6, or 1). This gives them superior low-light performance, less depth of field at a given aperture, and a larger size.

They make use of interchangeable lenses; each major DSLR manufacturer also sells a line of lenses specifically intended to be used on their cameras. This allows the user to select a lens designed for the application at hand: wide-angle, telephoto, low-light, etc. So each lens does not require its own shutter, DSLRs use a focal-plane shutter in front of the imager, behind the mirror.

Digital rangefinders

A rangefinder is a user-operated optical mechanism to measure subject distance once widely used on film cameras. Most digital cameras measure subject distance automatically using electro-optical techniques, but it is not customary to say that they have a rangefinder.

Line-scan camera systems

A line-scan camera is a camera device containing a line-scan image sensor chip, and a focusing mechanism. These cameras are almost solely used in industrial settings to capture an image of a constant stream of moving material. Unlike video cameras, line-scan cameras use a single row of pixel sensors, instead of a matrix of them. Data coming from the line-scan camera has a frequency, where the camera scans a line, waits, and repeats. The data coming from the line-scan camera is commonly processed by a computer, to collect the one-dimensional line data and to create a two-dimensional image. The collected two-dimensional image data is then processed by image-processing methods for industrial purposes.

Integration

Many devices include digital cameras built into or integrated into them. For example, mobile phones often include digital cameras; those that do are known as camera phones. Other small electronic devices (especially those used for communication) such as PDAs, laptops and BlackBerry devices often contain an integral digital camera, and most 21st century camcorders can also make still pictures.

Due to the limited storage capacity and general emphasis on convenience rather than image quality, almost all these integrated or converged devices store images in the lossy but compact JPEG file format.

Mobile phones incorporating digital cameras were introduced in Japan in 2001 by J-Phone. In 2003 camera phones outsold stand-alone digital cameras, and in 2006 they outsold all film-based cameras and digital cameras combined. These camera phones reached a billion devices sold in only five years, and by 2007 more than half of the installed base of all mobile phones were camera phones. Sales of separate cameras peaked in 2008. [7]

Integrated cameras tend to be at the very lowest end of the scale of digital cameras in technical specifications, such as resolution, optical quality, and ability to use accessories. With rapid development, however, the gap between mainstream compact digital cameras and camera phones is closing, and high-end camera phones are competitive with low-end stand-alone digital cameras of the same generation.

Conversion of film cameras to digital

When digital cameras became common, a question many photographers asked was whether their film cameras could be converted to digital. The answer was yes and no. For the majority of 35 mm film cameras the answer is no, the reworking and cost would be too great, especially as lenses have been evolving as well as cameras. For most a conversion to digital, to give enough space for the electronics and allow a liquid crystal display to preview, would require removing the back of the camera and replacing it with a custom built digital unit.

Many early professional SLR cameras, such as the Kodak DCS series, were developed from 35 mm film cameras. The technology of the time, however, meant that rather than being digital "backs" the bodies of these cameras were mounted on large, bulky digital units, often bigger than the camera portion itself. These were factory built cameras, however, not aftermarket conversions.

A notable exception is the Nikon E2, followed by Nikon E3, using additional optics to convert the 35mm format to a 2/3 CCD-sensor.

A few 35 mm cameras have had digital camera backs made by their manufacturer, Leica being a notable example. Medium format and large format cameras (those using film stock greater than 35 mm), have a low unit production, and typical digital backs for them cost over $10,000. These cameras also tend to be highly modular, with handgrips, film backs, winders, and lenses available separately to fit various needs.

The very large sensor these backs use leads to enormous image sizes. For example Phase One's P45 39 MP image back creates a single TIFF image of size up to 224.6 MB, and even greater pixel counts are available. Medium format digitals such as this are geared more towards studio and portrait photography than their smaller DSLR counterparts; the ISO speed in particular tends to have a maximum of 400, versus 6400 for some DSLR cameras. (Canon EOS-1D Mark IV and Nikon D3S have ISO 12800 plus Hi-3 ISO 102400)

History

Steven Sasson as an engineer at Eastman Kodak invented and built the first digital camera using a charge-coupled device image sensor in 1975.[8][9]

Image sensors

Image resolution

The resolution of a digital camera is often limited by the image sensor (typically a CCD or CMOS sensor chip) that turns light into discrete signals, replacing the job of film in traditional photography. The sensor is made up of millions of "buckets" that essentially count the number of photons that strike the sensor. This means that the brighter the image at a given point on the sensor, the larger the value that is read for that pixel. Depending on the physical structure of the sensor, a color filter array may be used which requires a demosaicing/interpolation algorithm. The number of resulting pixels in the image determines its "pixel count". For example, a 640x480 image would have 307,200 pixels, or approximately 307 kilopixels; a 3872x2592 image would have 10,036,224 pixels, or approximately 10 megapixels.

Image at left has a higher pixel count than the one to the right, but is still of worse spatial resolution.

The pixel count alone is commonly presumed to indicate the resolution of a camera, but this simple figure of merit is a misconception. Other factors impact a sensor's resolution, including sensor size, lens quality, and the organization of the pixels (for example, a monochrome camera without a Bayer filter mosaic has a higher resolution than a typical color camera).

Where such other factors limit the resolution, a greater pixel count does not improve it, but may rather make the digital images inconveniently large and/or exacerbate image noise. Many digital compact cameras are criticized for having excessive pixels. Sensors can be so small that their 'buckets' can easily overfill; again, resolution of a sensor can become greater than the camera lens could possibly deliver.

Demanding high quality and resolution (e.g. for use in professional photography), this count is an object of manufacturer competition. As of August 2011, the highest resolution available on the market is 80.1 MP.[10]

Australian recommended retail price of Kodak digital cameras.

As the technology has improved, costs have decreased dramatically. Counting the "pixels per dollar" as a basic measure of value for a digital camera, there has been a continuous and steady increase in the number of pixels each dollar buys in a new camera, in accord with the principles of Moore's Law. This predictability of camera prices was first presented in 1998 at the Australian PMA DIMA conference by Barry Hendy and since referred to as "Hendy's Law".[11]

Since only a few aspect ratios are commonly used (mainly 4:3 and 3:2), the number of sensor sizes that are useful is limited. Furthermore, sensor manufacturers do not produce every possible sensor size, but take incremental steps in sizes. For example, in 2007 the three largest sensors (in terms of pixel count) used by Canon were the 21.1, 17.9, and 16.6 megapixel CMOS sensors.

Methods of image capture

At the heart of a digital camera is a CCD or a CMOS image sensor.
This digital camera is partly disassembled. The lens assembly (bottom right) is partially removed, but the sensor (top right) still captures a usable image, as seen on the LCD screen (bottom left).

Since the first digital backs were introduced, there have been three main methods of capturing the image, each based on the hardware configuration of the sensor and color filters.

The first method is often called single-shot, in reference to the number of times the camera's sensor is exposed to the light passing through the camera lens. Single-shot capture systems use either one CCD with a Bayer filter mosaic, or three separate image sensors (one each for the primary additive colors red, green, and blue) which are exposed to the same image via a beam splitter.

The second method is referred to as multi-shot because the sensor is exposed to the image in a sequence of three or more openings of the lens aperture. There are several methods of application of the multi-shot technique. The most common originally was to use a single image sensor with three filters (once again red, green and blue) passed in front of the sensor in sequence to obtain the additive color information. Another multiple shot method is called Microscanning. This technique utilizes a single CCD with a Bayer filter but actually moved the physical location of the sensor chip on the focus plane of the lens to "stitch" together a higher resolution image than the CCD would allow otherwise. A third version combined the two methods without a Bayer filter on the chip.

The third method is called scanning because the sensor moves across the focal plane much like the sensor of a desktop scanner. Their linear or tri-linear sensors utilize only a single line of photosensors, or three lines for the three colors. In some cases, scanning is accomplished by moving the sensor e.g. when using Color co-site sampling or rotate the whole camera; a digital rotating line camera offers images of very high total resolution.

The choice of method for a given capture is determined largely by the subject matter. It is usually inappropriate to attempt to capture a subject that moves with anything but a single-shot system. However, the higher color fidelity and larger file sizes and resolutions available with multi-shot and scanning backs make them attractive for commercial photographers working with stationary subjects and large-format photographs.

Dramatic improvements in single-shot cameras and raw image file processing at the beginning of the 21st century made single shot, CCD-based cameras almost completely dominant, even in high-end commercial photography. CMOS-based single shot cameras remained somewhat common.

Filter mosaics, interpolation, and aliasing

The Bayer arrangement of color filters on the pixel array of an image sensor.

Most current consumer digital cameras use a Bayer filter mosaic in combination with an optical anti-aliasing filter to reduce the aliasing due to the reduced sampling of the different primary-color images. A demosaicing algorithm is used to interpolate color information to create a full array of RGB image data.

Cameras that use a beam-splitter single-shot 3CCD approach, three-filter multi-shot approach, Color co-site sampling or Foveon X3 sensor do not use anti-aliasing filters, nor demosaicing.

Firmware in the camera, or a software in a raw converter program such as Adobe Camera Raw, interprets the raw data from the sensor to obtain a full color image, because the RGB color model requires three intensity values for each pixel: one each for the red, green, and blue (other color models, when used, also require three or more values per pixel). A single sensor element cannot simultaneously record these three intensities, and so a color filter array (CFA) must be used to selectively filter a particular color for each pixel.

The Bayer filter pattern is a repeating 2×2 mosaic pattern of light filters, with green ones at opposite corners and red and blue in the other two positions. The high proportion of green takes advantage of properties of the human visual system, which determines brightness mostly from green and is far more sensitive to brightness than to hue or saturation. Sometimes a 4-color filter pattern is used, often involving two different hues of green. This provides potentially more accurate color, but requires a slightly more complicated interpolation process.

The color intensity values not captured for each pixel can be interpolated (or guessed) from the values of adjacent pixels which represent the color being calculated.

Sensor size and angle of view

Cameras with digital image sensors that are smaller than the typical 35mm film size has a smaller field or angle of view when used with a lens of the same focal length. This is because angle of view is a function of both focal length and the sensor or film size used.

Kids 50mm 100mm.jpg

If a sensor smaller than the full-frame 35mm film format is used, as in most digicams, then the field of view is cropped by the sensor to smaller than the 35mm full-frame format's field of view. This narrowing of the field of view is often described in terms of a focal length multiplier or crop factor, a factor by which a longer focal length lens would be needed to get the same field of view on a full-frame camera.

The result is geometrically similar to taking the image from the film camera and cutting it down (cropping) to the size of the sensor, ignoring various questions such as resolution. For moderately large DSLRs the crop factor may be in the range of 1.3-2 while smaller cameras use smaller sensors with a larger crop factor.

If the digital sensor has a higher or lower density of pixels per unit area than the film equivalent, then the amount of information captured differs correspondingly. While resolution can be estimated in pixels per unit area, the comparison is complex since most types of digital sensor record only a single colour at each pixel location, and different types of film have different effective resolutions. There are various trade-offs involved, since larger sensors are more expensive to manufacture and require larger lenses, while sensors with higher numbers of pixels per unit area are likely to suffer higher noise levels.

For these reasons, it is possible to obtain cheap digital cameras with sensor sizes much smaller than 35mm film, but with high pixel counts, that can still produce high-resolution images. Such cameras are usually supplied with lenses that would be classed as extremely wide angle on a 35mm camera, and that can also be smaller size and less expensive, since there is a smaller sensor to illuminate. For example, a camera with a 1/1.8" sensor has a 5.0x field of view crop, and so a hypothetical 5-50mm zoom lens produces images that look similar (again the differences mentioned above are important) to those produced by a 35mm film camera with a 25–250mm lens, while being much more compact than such a lens for a 35mm camera since the imaging circle is much smaller.

This can be useful if extra telephoto reach is desired, as a certain lens on an APS sensor produces an image equivalent to a significantly longer lens on a 35mm film camera shot at the same distance from the subject, the equivalent length of which depends on the camera's field of view crop. This is sometimes referred to as the focal length multiplier, but the focal length is a physical attribute of the lens and not the camera system itself. The disadvantage of this is that wide angle photography is made somewhat more difficult, as the smaller sensor effectively and undesirably reduces the captured field of view. Some methods of compensating for this or otherwise producing much wider digital photographs involve using a fisheye lens and "defishing" the image in post processing to simulate a rectilinear wide angle lens.

Full-frame digital SLRs, that is, those with sensor size matching a frame of 35mm film, include Canon 1Ds and 5D series, Kodak Pro DCS-14n, Nikon D3 line and Contax N Digital. There are very few digital cameras with sensors that can approach the resolution of larger-format film cameras, with the possible exception of the Mamiya ZD (22MP) and the Hasselblad H3D series of DSLRs (22 to 39 MP).

Common values for field of view crop in DSLRs include 1.3x for some Canon (APS-H) sensors, 1.5x for Sony APS-C sensors used by Nikon, Pentax and Konica Minolta and for Fujifilm sensors, 1.6 (APS-C) for most Canon sensors, ~1.7x for Sigma's Foveon sensors and 2x for Kodak and Panasonic 4/3" sensors currently used by Olympus and Panasonic. Crop factors for non-SLR consumer compact and bridge cameras are larger, frequently 4x or more.

Relative sizes of sensors used in most current digital cameras.
Table of sensor sizes [12]
Type Width (mm) Height (mm) Size (mm²)
1/3.6" 4.00 3.00 12.0
1/3.2" 4.54 3.42 15.5
1/3" 4.80 3.60 17.3
1/2.7" 5.37 4.04 21.7
1/2.5" 5.76 4.29 24.7
1/2.3" 6.16 4.62 28.5
1/2" 6.40 4.80 30.7
1/1.8" 7.18 5.32 38.2
1/1.7" 7.60 5.70 43.3
2/3" 8.80 6.60 58.1
1" 12.8 9.6 123
4/3" 18.0 13.5 243
APS-C 25.1 16.7 419
35 mm 36 24 864
Back 48 36 1728

Connectivity

Transferring photos

Many digital cameras can connect directly to a computer to transfer data:

  • Early cameras used the PC serial port. USB is now the most widely used method (most cameras are viewable as USB mass storage), though some have a FireWire port. Some cameras use USB PTP mode for connection instead of USB MSC; some offer both modes.
  • Other cameras use wireless connections, via Bluetooth or IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi, such as the Kodak EasyShare One.
  • Cameraphones and some high-end stand-alone digital cameras also use cellular networks to connect for sharing images. The most common standard on cellular networks is the MMS Multimedia Messaging Service, commonly called "picture messaging". The second method with smartphones is to send a picture as an email attachment. Many cameraphones do not support email, so this is less common.

A common alternative is the use of a card reader which may be capable of reading several types of storage media, as well as high speed transfer of data to the computer. Use of a card reader also avoids draining the camera battery during the download process, as the device takes power from the USB port. An external card reader allows convenient direct access to the images on a collection of storage media. But if only one storage card is in use, moving it back and forth between the camera and the reader can be inconvenient. Many computers have a card reader built in, at least for SD cards.

Printing photos

Many modern cameras support the PictBridge standard, which allows them to send data directly to a PictBridge-capable computer printer without the need for a computer.

Wireless connectivity can also provide for printing photos without a cable connection.

Polaroid has introduced a printer integrated into its digital camera which creates a small, printed copy of a photo. This is reminiscent of the original instant camera, popularized by Polaroid in 1975.[13]

Displaying photos

Many digital cameras include a video output port. Usually sVideo, it sends a standard-definition video signal to a television, allowing the user to show one picture at a time. Buttons or menus on the camera allow the user to select the photo, advance from one to another, or automatically send a "slide show" to the TV.

HDMI has been adopted by many high-end digital camera makers, to show photos in their high-resolution quality on an HDTV.

In January 2008, Silicon Image announced a new technology for sending video from mobile devices to a television in digital form. MHL sends pictures as a video stream, up to 1080p resolution, and is compatible with HDMI.[14]

Some DVD recorders and television sets can read memory cards used in cameras; alternatively several types of flash card readers have TV output capability.

Modes

Many digital cameras have preset modes for different applications. Within the constraints of correct exposure various parameters can be changed, including exposure, aperture, focusing, light metering, white balance, and equivalent sensitivity. For example a portrait might use a wider aperture to render the background out of focus, and would seek out and focus on a human face rather than other image content.

Image data storage

A CompactFlash (CF) card, one of many media types used to store digital photographs

Many camera phones and most separate digital cameras use memory cards having flash memory to store image data. The majority of cards for separate cameras are SD format; many are CompactFlash or other formats.

Digital cameras have computers inside, hence have internal memory, and many cameras can use some of this internal memory for a limited capacity for pictures that can be transferred to or from the card or through the camera's connections.

A few cameras use some other form of removable storage such as Microdrives (very small hard disk drives), CD single (185 MB), and 3.5" floppy disks. Other unusual formats include:

  • Onboard flash memory — Cheap cameras and cameras secondary to the device's main use (such as a camera phone)
  • PC Card hard drives — early professional cameras (discontinued)
  • Thermal printer — known only in one model of camera that printed images immediately rather than storing

Most manufacturers of digital cameras do not provide drivers and software to allow their cameras to work with Linux or other free software. Still, many cameras use the standard USB storage protocol, and are thus easily usable. Other cameras are supported by the gPhoto project.

File formats

The Joint Photography Experts Group standard (JPEG) is the most common file format for storing image data. Other file types include Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) and various Raw image formats.

Many cameras, especially high-end ones, support a raw image format. A raw image is the unprocessed set of pixel data directly from the camera's sensor, often saved in a proprietary format. Adobe Systems has released the DNG format, a royalty-free raw image format used by at least 10 camera manufacturers.

Raw files initially had to be processed in specialized image editing programs, but over time many mainstream editing programs, such as Google's Picasa, have added support for raw images. Rendering to standard images from raw sensor data allows more flexibility in making major adjustments without losing image quality or retaking the picture.

Formats for movies are AVI, DV, MPEG, MOV (often containing motion JPEG), WMV, and ASF (basically the same as WMV). Recent formats include MP4, which is based on the QuickTime format and uses newer compression algorithms to allow longer recording times in the same space.

Other formats that are used in cameras but not for pictures are the Design Rule for Camera Format (DCF), an ISO specification for the camera's internal file structure and naming, and Digital Print Order Format (DPOF), which dictates what order images are to be printed in and how many copies.

Most cameras include Exif data that provides metadata about the picture. Exif data may include aperture, exposure time, focal length, date and time taken, and location.

Batteries

Seller with cameras, memory cards & batteries at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, 2010.

Digital cameras have high power requirements, and over time have become smaller, resulting in an ongoing need to develop a battery small enough to fit in the camera and yet able to power it for a reasonable length of time.

Two broad types of batteries are in use for digital cameras.

Off-the-shelf

Off-the-shelf batteries may be single-use disposable or reusable rechargeable batteries. In either case they conform to an established off-the-shelf form factor, most commonly AA, CR2, or CR-V3 batteries, with AAA batteries in a handful of cameras. The CR2 and CR-V3 batteries are lithium based, and intended for single use. They are also commonly seen in camcorders. AA batteries are the most common; however, the non-rechargeable alkaline batteries supplied with low-end cameras are capable of powering most cameras for only a very short time. They may serve satisfactorily in cameras that are only occasionally used.

Consumers with more than an occasional need use AA Nickel metal hydride batteries (NiMH) instead, which provide adequate energy and are rechargeable. NIMH batteries do not provide as much energy per volume as lithium ion batteries, and they also tend to discharge when not used. For the same energy, a NiMH rechargeable battery takes up to twice the volume of a Li-on rechargeable battery, and is three to five times heavier, but only costs half as much. Rechargeable batteries are available in various ampere-hour (Ah) or milli-ampere-hour (mAh) ratings, which are approximately proportional to shots per charge.

Typically mid-range consumer models and some low end cameras use off-the-shelf batteries; only a very few DSLR cameras accept them (for example, Sigma SD10). Rechargeable RCR-V3 lithium-ion batteries are also available as an alternative to non-rechargeable CR-V3 batteries. Cameras, especially earlier ones made for AA-size batteries assumed that these would be of the non-rechargeable, preferably alkaline manganese type delivering 1.5 volts per cell. Rechargeable NiCd or NiMH cells only deliver 1.2 volts, which means that many such cameras will only operate for a short time or not at all even with new and newly charged 1.2 volt units. A portable ultra-high-endurance external power-supply for the shoulder bag to operate older 6 volt cameras can be made up of five 1.2 volt C-size cells which can be either NiCd or NiMH, with a cable and 4mm DC-plug.

Proprietary

The second type of battery for digital cameras is proprietary battery formats. These are built to a manufacturer's custom specifications, and can be either aftermarket replacement parts or OEM. Almost all proprietary batteries are lithium ion. While they only accept a certain number of recharges before the battery life begins degrading (typically up to 500 cycles), they provide considerable performance for their size. A result is that at the two ends of the spectrum both high end professional cameras and low end consumer models tend to use lithium ion batteries.

Digital camera backs

In the industrial and high-end professional photography market, some camera systems utilize modular (removable) image sensors. For example, some medium format SLR cameras, such as the Mamiya 645D series, allow installation of either a digital camera back or a traditional photographic film back.

  • Area array
    • CCD
    • CMOS
  • Linear array
    • CCD (monochrome)
    • 3-strip CCD with color filters

Linear array cameras are also called scan backs.

  • Single-shot
  • Multi-shot (three-shot, usually)

Most earlier digital camera backs used linear array sensors. The linear array sensor acts like its counterpart in a flatbed image scanner by moving vertically to digitize the image. Many early such cameras only capture grayscale images. Color photography requires three separate scans, and a mechanical assembly to cycle a primary color filter in front of the sensor. These are called multi-shot backs. The entire scanning process requires relatively long expsoure times, in the range of seconds or even minutes. Due to this relatively long exposure-time, scanning and mutli-shot backs are generally limited to studio applications, where all aspects of the photographic scene are under the photographer's control.

Some other camera backs use CCD arrays similar to typical cameras. These are called single-shot backs.

Since it is much easier to manufacture a high-quality linear CCD array with only thousands of pixels than a CCD matrix with millions, very high resolution linear CCD camera backs were available much earlier than their CCD matrix counterparts. For example, you could buy an (albeit expensive) camera back with over 7,000 pixel horizontal resolution in the mid-1990s. However, as of 2004, it is still difficult to buy a comparable CCD matrix camera of the same resolution. Rotating line cameras, with about 10,000 color pixels in its sensor line, are able, as of 2005, to capture about 120,000 lines during one full 360 degree rotation, thereby creating a single digital image of 1,200 Megapixels.

Most modern digital camera backs use CCD or CMOS matrix sensors. The matrix sensor captures the entire image frame at once, instead of incrementing scanning the frame area through the prolonged exposure. For example, Phase One produces a 39 million pixel digital camera back with a 49.1 x 36.8 mm CCD in 2008. This CCD array is a little smaller than a frame of 120 film and much larger than a 35 mm frame (36 x 24 mm). In comparison, consumer digital cameras use arrays ranging from 36 x 24 mm (full frame on high end consumer DSLRs) to 7.2 x 5.3 mm (on point and shoot cameras) CMOS sensor.

At present, there are relatively few complete digital SLR cameras with sensors large enough to compete with the image detail offered by medium to large format film cameras. Phase One, Mamiya, and Hasselblad in 2011 manufacture medium format digital devices that can capture 30MP up to 80MP. The units tend to be quite large and expensive. Additionally, because of their high build quality and lack of moving parts, they tend to be quite long lasting and are prominent on the used market.[15]

See also

References

  1. ^ Musgrove, Mike (2006-01-12). "Nikon Says It's Leaving Film-Camera Business". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/11/AR2006011102323.html. Retrieved 2007-02-23. 
  2. ^ http://www.gadgetell.com/tech/comment/ces-2011-kodak-intros -easyshare-touch-mini-and-sport-digital-cameras/
  3. ^ 3D Cameras http://www.sony.co.uk/hub/cyber-shot-3d-camera/3/1
  4. ^ http://www.cameras.co.uk/specs/panasonic-dmc-ft3.cfm
  5. ^ Digital SLR vs Compact SuperZoom Camera http://www.safari-guide.co.uk/photography-dslr-vs-compact-superzoom-camera.php
  6. ^ DP Review
  7. ^ Kevin J. O'Brien, New York Times, 2010 Nov 15 Smartphone Sales Taking Toll on G.P.S. Devices
  8. ^ The Visual Dictionary of Photography. AVA Publishing. http://books.google.com/books?id=f7X5vYbUd0sC&pg=PA91&dq=Steven+Sasson&hl=en&ei=McMtTpX1M8e5tgeA1qnXAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CD4Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false. 
  9. ^ "Steven Sasson named to CE Hall of Fame". Let's Go Digital. http://www.letsgodigital.org/en/16859/ce-hall-of-fame/. 
  10. ^ http://www.photographyblog.com/news/phase_one_iq180_iq160_and_iq140
  11. ^ Bogdan Solca (2007-01-08). "More on digital cameras". Softpedia. http://news.softpedia.com/news/Digital-Lens-Flares-43923.shtml. 
  12. ^ Bockaert, Vincent. "Sensor sizes". Digital Photography Review. http://www.dpreview.com/learn/?/Glossary/Camera_System/sensor_sizes_01.htm. Retrieved 2007-04-03. 
  13. ^ "Reinventing Instant Photography for the Digital Age". Polaroid. January 8, 2009. http://thenewinstant.com/news-updates/Polaroid%20Introduces%20the%20Polaroid%20PoGo%E2%84%A2%20Instant%20Digital%20Camera/. Retrieved 2009-01-15. [dead link]
  14. ^ "Mobile High-Definition Link Technology Gives Consumers the Ability to Link Mobile Devices to HDTVs with Support for Audio and Video". Silicon Image. January 7, 2008. http://www.siliconimage.com/news/releasedetails.aspx?id=480. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  15. ^ Used Phase One Medium Format Digital Backs, Capture Integration

External links


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