Introduction to Digital Cameras

Unless you plan to digitize existing photographs with a scanner, as discussed in Chapter 2, you'll need a digital camera—often called a digicam—if you want to make digital images. In some respects, these cameras are similar to their 35mm counterparts. They include most of the same features, but gain many others that are exclusive to the digital process.

At first glance, a digicam may seem expensive compared with a 35mm film camera. That's true, but it can offer better value in the long run, at least for photographers who shoot a great deal. Because digicams store images on a memory card, there's no need to pay for film or processing; think of the card as "reusable film." Granted, you'll want prints of some images, but this is cheaper than paying to print every picture on a roll of film. Digicams are also a lot more fun than 35mm cameras. At a party, for example, you can snap a lot of pictures and show them to friends on the camera's color display immediately. Delete any rejects and take some pics over again if you're not happy with the poses or expressions. Many cameras will even record short video clips.

In this chapter, I'll discuss how digital cameras work, the various types of digital cameras, their primary capabilities, and some of the features that are unique to digital cameras. If you are thinking of upgrading to a newer, more advanced or different type of digital camera, the following sections can help guide your purchasing desision.

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