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Digital Photography: History and Tips     <Go back

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Although the history of digital photography isn't very long, digital photography has already transformed how people take and view photos.

Before digital photography, most photos had been viewed as prints. Today, however, the majority of photos are edited and viewed on computers. Digital photography allows a photographer to develop his own film by using digital printing.

Yet, while digital cameras have taken the photography world by storm, film cameras have their advantages.

The History of Digital Photography
While most people may believe the history of digital photography goes back only ten or fifteen years, digital photography had been around for years before the first digital cameras were available to the public.

The history of digital cameras began as early as the 1980s, when digital photography replaced traditional film in astronomy. Digital cameras capture light better than film plates.

Since their introduction, commercial digital cameras have largely replaced manual cameras, as photographers can more easily upload, edit and email their pictures.

Digital photography printing allows photographers to create high quality prints in their own homes. As the history of digital photography progresses, expect to see even more options and features added to digital cameras.

Digital Photography Tips
Generally, digital photography tips aren't different from film camera tips. The rules of basic photography composition and lighting remain the same. However, some tips can improve your digital photographs:

  • Be Fearless:
    If you've got a large memory card, you can take multiple photos, review them instantly through the LCD screen and delete the shots you don't want. This saves time and money that traditional film development demands. This unique feature of digital photography has made amateur photographers less concerned with how many shots they take. Because they have the freedom to take more photos, they have a better chance of catching that perfect shot.
  • Read the Manual:
    While this advice is hardly unique to digital cameras, it remains one of the most important digital photography tips. Your camera may include macro features, various lighting settings, video camera capabilities and more. You'll get the most use out of your camera's features if you read the manual and learn how to use them.
  • Experiment:
    A digital camera's LCD screen lets people quickly review photos, allowing photographers to experiment with their camera’s settings. Would that photo look best as a landscape or an action shot? What happens if the lighting is set to overcast on a clear day? By experimenting with digital camera settings, people are discovering how to get unusual effects in their photos. If an experiment doesn't work, delete the flawed photo.

When to Avoid Digital Photography
The history of digital photography has been so successful that you might wonder why anyone would still use film. Yet, traditional film has advantages over digital photography in particular circumstances.

Many photojournalists prefer to use traditional film. Although a digital camera lets a photographer quickly edit his photos, photojournalists build their reputations on the accuracy of their photographs. While some photojournalists use digital cameras, others prefer to use film so they can prove an image has not been altered.

For similar reasons, film is more admissible in court than digital photography, as there is less chance that someone has tampered with photographic evidence. While the camera may not lie, a software-editing program can!

Another issue with digital cameras is that they are more sensitive to cold and dampness than film cameras. As a result, film remains the choice of photographers working where bitter cold or wet conditions could damage a digital camera.

Some photographers simply prefer to use film, maintaining that digital photographs lack the detail and "feel" of film. In some ways, these arguments correspond to the "CD vs. vinyl" debate that began with the introduction of compact discs.

Digital Photography Versus Film
So which is better, digital photography or film? Compare the advantages of each:

Digital Photography Advantages

  • Digital cameras are usually smaller than film cameras.
  • Digital cameras can embed metadata into the image file (time, date, camera settings, etc.).
  • Digital image files can be backed up and copied.
  • Digital images can be altered with editing software for specific effects.
  • Digital photography enables you to experiment without concern for time or the cost of developing flawed pictures.
  • Digital printing can be done from a home computer with either a standard or digital printer.
  • LCD screens on digital cameras allow for instant picture review and deletion.
  • Many digital cameras have AV-out capabilities for television viewing.
  • Photographers can print certain pictures and not others.
  • Some digital cameras allow you to lock files to avoid accidental deletion.

Advantages of Film Cameras

  • Film cameras are less expensive than digital cameras of the same quality.
  • Film cameras are more durable in outdoor environments and adverse conditions.
  • Film cameras can work without batteries.
  • Film is harder to manipulate than digital images, ensuring the integrity of the original images.
  • Some film types (infrared film, for example) have no digital counterpart.
Although digital cameras probably won't completely replace film, their versatility and unique features make them an excellent choice for the amateur photographer.
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