Computer in Your Camera

When you get down to it, the biggest difference between film and digital cameras relates to the fact that an image sensor is not an exact replacement for film. Shoot a roll of film and your pictures are saved onto the roll. Expose an image sensor to several different scenes, and all you have are a bunch of electrons, converted by the ADC into digital data. The job of turning that data into an actual photograph is handed off to a very small, but very complex computer within the camera. (See Figure 1-10.)

The camera's circuitry and chips, including ASICs and DSPs, process the data to produce form, color, contrast, and luminance and then organize and format it so it can be saved in a recognizable file format. (See Chapter 5 about the file formats, including the RAW format, which postpones much of this processing until the picture is uploaded to your computer.) All this is done according to manufacturer-specific proprietary imaging and color science, which is what really sets each camera apart from its competitors. And that is why you can't really tell how good a digital camera is going to be just by reading the specs about its image sensor, ADC, or other components.

Note: Lewis Kemper, Fine Art Nature Photographer

"I like to shoot digital because of the control I have in post-processing. But now you are the processing lab. A lab could take a 36-exposure roll and process all the pictures at once. Now, you have to process them one at a time yourself ...if youwant the most control." (www.LewisKemper.com)

Photo

Figure 1-10: A digital camera is a system consisting essentially of a lens, image sensor (with color filter array), and extensive circuitry for processing—all designed to produce a photograph that is indistinguishable from film to all extents and purposes. (Copyright by Sony Corporation.)

Lens

Color filter array

Image sensor

Circuitry for processing

Photo

Figure 1-10: A digital camera is a system consisting essentially of a lens, image sensor (with color filter array), and extensive circuitry for processing—all designed to produce a photograph that is indistinguishable from film to all extents and purposes. (Copyright by Sony Corporation.)

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