Contemporary Use of Digital Cameras

The advances in digital cameras have been as rapid as the changes in the computing industry. The early cameras mentioned earlier were adequate for the news industry but did not produce the file sizes and image quality that were needed for the commercial and high-end publishing markets. Large megapixel digital camera backs have been developed for medium-format cameras to meet the needs of this segment of the photography industry. The introduction of Canon and Nikon's new large-file (12.4 to 16.7 megapixel) 35-mm style cameras has produced cameras that can now be used for almost all aspects of photography. The professional-level digital cameras that are used today, such as the Canon EOS-1D Mark II or Nikon D2H and new D2X, are extremely fast. They have no delay problem and can shoot up to 8.3 frames per second.

Canon now has two professional-level cameras that meet the needs of a wide range of photographers. The Canon EOS-1D Mark II is a high-speed 8.3 frames per second (fps) 8.2-megapixel camera for the action shooter. The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II is a 16.7-megapixel camera that is capable of shooting 4 fps with extremely high image resolution for magazine and advertising shooters who need the file size. In addition, Nikon just introduced its newest camera, the D2X, which can shoot full-resolution 12.4 million pixel images at 5 fps (up to 21 consecutive JPEGs and 15 NEFs).

When the situation demands yet faster frame rates, the D2X has a unique 6.8 megapixel High Speed Cropped Image mode that boosts the shooting rate to 8 fps (up to 35 consecutive JPEGs or 26 NEFs) by cropping the number of pixels used on the sensor to create the image. This also provides a focal length multiplier in the 12.4-megapixel mode of 1.5X and 2X in the High Speed Cropped Image mode so that the camera serves a wide range of photographers' needs.

I held out as long as I could to switch from film to digital because NFL Photos seemed to prefer transparency film images for its clients. However, during the 2001 NFL season, I finally purchased my first digital body: the previously mentioned Nikon D1H. This camera offered approximately 4.5 frames per second and a 1.5 multiplier of focal lengths on all lenses without a loss of f-stop, which was an advantage that I grew fond of. This meant that while I was using my 400-mm f/2.8 lens, it was automatically "converted" to a 600-mm f/2.8 lens. This was great while shooting in a dimly lit event or indoor dome game because I usually avoided using a teleconverter because of the loss of one f-stop. This added focal length for long telephoto lenses is a definite plus in going digital. Although 4.5 frames per second seemed slow when I compared it to my film body—a Nikon F5, which could shoot almost double at 8 fps—I could already see some major advantages when it came to using digital technology.

The initial users of this early digital equipment had to adjust to shooting events digitally with the delay that I mentioned, and they were required to send images to various newspapers or agencies during and after an event using a laptop computer. The upside is that photographers no longer had to waste time processing or developing film in a darkroom. For those wire shooters who had previously used film, stadiums at the major college-level and professional ranks usually provided darkrooms for these press photographers to process the film right there at the event. Today, photographers don't need to process film, but merely edit and caption the images on a computer before e-mailing or using a File Transport Protocol (FTP) process to send images directly to their clients.

The majority of sports photographers who are using digital equipment are adding a laptop computer to their shooting equipment so that they can upload their images immediately as more companies have gone to the digital side. The old darkrooms that stadiums used to provide for us have been converted to workrooms for the photographers who need a work area to process and transmit images. Many venues are also providing high-speed data lines so that photographers and editors can send multiple images in a short amount of time. Although in some ways the additional time required on the computer editing images is a negative, the speed at which images are handled in today's world is a definite plus. Editors and publications now can view hundreds to thousands of images in an instant from several wire services and photography-driven Web sites. Newspapers and other publications can use these downloadable images from events all over the world. In short, the use of digital images is faster, far more convenient, and less expensive for publishing than film is.

Digital Camera and Digital Photography

Digital Camera and Digital Photography

Compared to film cameras, digital cameras are easy to use, fun and extremely versatile. Every day there’s more features being designed. Whether you have the cheapest model or a high end model, digital cameras can do an endless number of things. Let’s look at how to get the most out of your digital camera.

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