How does a digital camera work

The analogue camera

The analogue camera

The digital camera -jf'

Basically, digital cameras aren't that different from their 35mm counterparts. Both feature the core elements of lens, aperture and shutter; the only difference is how they capture and store the image information. So if you can use a film camera, you can shoot with one of these too.

First, let's look at how an analogue camera works.

Simply put, it consists of a lens system, an aperture and a shutter. The lens system ensures the captured image is in focus while the ^aperture and ^shutter control the amount of light reaching the film. As soon as the shutter is released, light is let into the camera through the ^lens system and aperture to land on the photosensitive film. The resulting chemical reaction records the image on the film surface. This image is then set in the developing process.

Although digital cameras may often look like their analogue counterparts and share many components, such as the aperture, shutter and a lens system, their methods for recording images are quite different. Instead of light-sensitive film, they use a combination of ^CCD chip, ^imaging processing engine and storage media to capture the image.

The heart of the digital camera is hidden behind the shutter. The CCD (Charge-Coupled Device)

sensor - sometimes CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) sensors are used -is a light-sensitive semiconductor element made up of many silicon diodes. Each one of these photodiodes represents one dot or ^pixel in the final image. When light hits the individual photosensitive diode, this causes it to generate an electrical charge which is registered by the camera.

The ^analogue-digital conversion process turns the millions of analogue charges into digital values. Those digital values are then calculated by the camera's imaging processing engine, comprising an ^ASlC chip and software, to make better images (for example, by optimising gamma conversion and colour reproduction). The reconstructed digital image is then transferred to the camera's storage medium.

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