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Technologies: How Digital Cameras Work

To gain the most from your digital camera, it can be beneficial to learn how digital cameras work. Various digital camera technologies, including image sensors, flash memory, and LCDs, come together to give the unit the ability to create photos.
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What Is Focal Lock?

How to Read EXIF Data
Learn how to read your digital camera's EXIF data, which provides information about the settings used to create a particular image.

What Are Infrared Photos?
Infrared photography allows you to shoot photos that look truly unique. Use these tips to help you start shooting infrared photos.

What Are HDR Photos?
As it has grown in popularity during the past few years, the term High Dynamic Range photography has become more widely used among photographers. However, figuring out exactly what High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography is can be a little tricky.

What Are F-Stops?
Use these tips to learn more about using f-stops with your DSLR camera's lenses.

What Are the Camera Specifications?
One way to learn about your camera's strengths and weaknesses is to closely read through the camera's specification list as you begin using the camera.

RGB Vs. CMYK
RGB stands for red, green, and blue, and it is the spectrum used on DSLRs and computer monitors. CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, and it is used for printing. This article explores the differences between them in a simple format.

What is Flash?
Flash in digital photography is a form of extremely bright light used to illuminate a scene or to help freeze fast moving objects. Flash refers to both the flash of light itself and to the electronic flash unit actually producing the light.

What Is the Focal Length Multiplier?
The focal length multiplier comes into play with lenses used on an APS-C camera. Because an APS-C camera has a smaller sensor, focal lengths have to be altered using a focal length multiplier.

What Is the Fill Factor in Digital Cameras?
The fill factor relates to the size of the photodiode in relation to the surface of the pixel. Many digital cameras have a small or low fill factor, as modern DSLRs have more per pixel circuitry.

What Are Camera Time Lapse and Camera Remote Capture?
Find out how to use remote capture and time lapse technology with your DSLR.

Types of Camera Viewfinders
The viewfinder is located at the top of the back of digital cameras, and you look through it to compose a scene. Three different types of viewfinders exist, and each one has its own advantages.

What Are Exposure Settings?
As you turn to using manual settings with your camera, and as you start locking in the various settings, learn about the most common settings that can help you achieve the proper exposure.

Camera Display Screen
With a newer camera, you may be overwhelmed with the large amount of information about each shot that the camera provides on the LCD screen and (possibly) through the viewfinder. Learning what all of the information means can help you use the camera more effectively, as shown with these tips for deciphering the camera display screen information.

What Is the Circle of Confusion?
"Circle of confusion" describes how much a point in a photograph needs to blurred before it is perceived as being soft and unsharp. When the circle of confusion becomes obvious to our eyes, that region is deemed to be outside the depth of field.

What is Auto Bracketing?
Most modern DSLRs have Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB) setting, through which the camera will automatically take a series of shots at exposure settings in increasing thirds of a stop.

What is DSLR Macro Photography?
The term "macro photography" is often used to describe any close-up shot. However, in DSLR photography, it should really only be used to describe a photograph with a 1:1 or higher magnification.

What Is the Mode Dial?
The mode dial is one of the most important parts of a camera, giving you access to the shooting modes, but it helps to know what each icon means to achieve the best results when shooting.

What are Bits?
A "bit" is a term originally used in computer terminology, where it stands for "binary device" and refers to the smallest piece of information. It has a value of either 0 or 1. In digital photography, 0 is assigned to black and 1 to white.

What is Sensor Linearity?
DSLR sensors are linear devices, whereas human vision is non-linear. This means that camera sensors often need to adjust to match human viewing. A simple way to imagine this is that sensor linearity is represented by a straight line, while human vision is represented by a line which curves.

What Is Sepia Photography?
Some cameras offer more special effects than others, but nearly all cameras offer an effect called "sepia." If you’re confused about sepia, use these tips to learn more about it.

What Is ISO?
ISO sensitivity in a digital camera essentially is equal to the measurement of film speed in a 35mm film camera. With higher ISO sensitivities (represented by a higher number), less light is required to create the image, which allows for faster shutter speeds. Use these tips to learn more about ISO.

Black and White Photo Tips
In the old days of photography -- the dark ages of film -- photographers had only one option for their photos: Black and white. Eventually, color film became easily and readily available, and black and white photographs were history. With digital photography, black and white photos now have become a method of bringing a unique artistic look to...

What is Vignetting?
In digital photography, vignetting is the result of more light reaching the center of an image than the edges. However, there are several different types of vignetting -- mechanical, optical, and pixel -- and there are different ways to compensate for it.

Types of Camera Lenses
Camera lenses come in either fixed (prime) focal lengths, or zooms, which cover a range of focal lengths. The different focal lengths are grouped into categories for different types of camera lenses.

What is Pincushion Distortion?
Pincushion distortion is a lens effect which causes images to become pinched in the center. It is most often associated with telephoto lenses, and in particular, zoom telephotos. The distortion will usually occur at the telephoto end of the lens.

What is Barrel Lens Distortion?
Barrel lens distortion is an effect associated with wide-angle lenses and, in particular, zoom wide-angles. This effect causes images to be spherized, which causes the edges of images to look curved and bowed to the human eye. It is most visible in images that have straight lines in them.

Camera Batteries
Depending on the manufacturer, different types of digital cameras use different types of camera batteries in their systems. Learn about the different camera batteries here.

What is Firmware?
Camera firmware is a DSLR's basic software and coding, which the camera maker installs at the time of manufacturing. Firmware is responsible for actually making your camera work, and it is therefore vitally important.

What Is Compression?
Different file formats on DSLRs and computers apply different levels of compression. Photographers tend to try and avoid compression by shooting RAW files, which have no compression at all applied to them.

Camera Buffer
When you press the shutter button and record an image, a DSLR camera's sensor is exposed to light, and the sensor captures image data. This data is then processed in the camera, and written to the storage card. To help speed up this process, DSLRs contain a camera buffer.

What Are Camera Parts?
When making the switch to a DSLR camera from a point and shoot camera, you may be overwhelmed with the large number of buttons, dials, and parts that the DSLR camera has. Learning the names of the various parts of your camera can help you use it more effectively.

What are Effective Pixels?
"Effective pixels" is a term you'll often see in a list of camera specifications. Read the full article to learn more about digital pixels in general and about effective pixels in particular.

Using Camera LCD Screens
LCD screens are improving with each generation of cameras, and they provide a quick and easy way to review images once they've been taken. LCD screens aren't renowned for their accuracy, but three steps can be taken to improve their performance.

What Are Image Sensors?
All digital cameras have an image sensor to capture information. The easiest way to understand this sensor is to think of it as the equivalent of a piece of film.

What Do the Camera Buttons Do?
Most of the buttons on your DSLR camera or your advanced camera lead to shortcuts to commonly used features. Use these tips to remember the function of the buttons on your DSLR camera or advanced camera.

Anti-Shake Camera Mechanisms
Most DSLR manufacturers have systems in place to help prevent camera shake. The most sensible form of stabilization is obviously when manufacturers use an anti-shake camera system on actual DSLR camera bodies. This means that stabilization is in place, regardless of what type of lens you are using.

What Is Mirror Lockup Mode?
Mirror lockup works well in certain DSLR photography situations. Learn more about how to use mirror lockup mode!

What Is the ADC?
The ADC's job is to classify the voltages of the pixels into levels of brightness and to assign each level to a binary number consisting of zeros and ones. Most consumer digital cameras use at least an 8-bit ADC, which allows for up to 256 values for the brightness of a single pixel.

What Is a Histogram?
The histogram is a simple graph which displays the brightness levels in an image, from darkest to lightest. Learn how the histogram can help improve your DSLR photography with these answers to the question: What is a histogram?

Understanding Camera Menus
Use the following tips to help you figure out how to better use the menus on your digital camera, taking full advantage of this great feature to perfectly set up the camera to meet your needs.

Camera Connectivity
Camera connectivity in DSLRs and advanced cameras refers to the ways in which connections can be made to other devices in order to transfer, view, or print photos, or to use the camera for remote capture.

What is Interpolation?
Interpolation is a term used to describe a method to increase the size of pixels within an image. It is commonly used to increase the overall size of an image. Some digital cameras use interpolation to create digital zoom, but it is more commonly used in camera imaging software.

What Is Shutter Speed?
To make full use of your camera's shutter speed, you need to understand how it works and exactly what shutter speed is.

What Is Focal Length?
When shooting with any type of camera, but especially a DSLR camera, it's important to answer the question: What is focal length?

What Is Dynamic Range?
The dynamic range of a sensor is defined by the largest possible signal that it can generate divided by the smallest possible signal.

What is Burst Mode in a DSLR Camera?
Burst mode, or continuous shooting is a feature found on digital cameras which allows the photographer to shoot a series of photos one after the other. The speed at which images can be taken is known as frames per second (fps).

Camera Lenses Explained
When shopping for a camera, make sure you pick the type of lens that will work well for your situation by learning the camera lens terminology to know.

Understand the Zoom Lens
Before buying a digital camera, you must understand the difference between an optical zoom lens and a digital zoom lens.

What Is the Picture Angle?
Because the width and height can differ between horizontal and vertical picture formats, a measurement along the diagonal of the shot is often used to measure photos, regardless of the format. This is a universal picture angle.

What is Depth of Field?
Use these tips to learn more about your options for setting the depth of field with your DSLR camera.

Decipher the Viewfinder Data
DSLRs can display almost anything about the camera’s settings in the viewfinder, similar to what is displayed on the LCD. Read on to figure out how to decipher the viewfinder data.

DSLR for HD Video
Over the last few years, DSLRs have suddenly acquired the ability to shoot not only still images, but also High Definition (HD) videos. To make the most out of this function, read this beginner's guide.

What Is the Rule of Thirds?
If you've seen a tic-tac-toe board, you have a general idea about the photography term "rule of thirds," which helps photographers balance their photos. Essentially, the rule of thirds involves mentally breaking down an image in your viewfinder into nine equal parts, with the imaginary lines resembling a tic-tac-toe board.

Using Telephoto Lenses
Using telephoto lenses and zoom lenses seems easy, but such lenses require some special handling. Just follow these tips to gain the most from using telephoto lenses and using zoom lenses.

Using Wide Angle Lenses
Most beginning photographers focus on the large zoom capabilities of camera lenses, bringing faraway subjects up close. But the other end of the lens spectrum -- wide angle lenses -- can provide some great photo looks.

How to Choose the Best Image Stabilization
Digital camera image stabilization technology, sometimes shortened to IS, helps prevent blurry photos caused by camera shake. Optical image stabilization is preferred over digital image stabilization.

What Is Photography Noise?
If you've been shooting with digital cameras for any length of time, you probably have heard the phrase "noise." But what is photography noise? And what effect does it have on your pictures?

Color Spaces
Our eyes are sensitive to only three main colors: Red, green, and blue. Everything else we see is a combination of these colors. Thus, the way that we view and print digital photos is affected by the way we perceive color, and by color spaces.

What is Photography Perspective?
Perspective in photography refers to the dimension of objects and the spatial relationship between them. It also relates to the position of the human eye in relation to the objects in an image. The farther away an object is from the human eye, the smaller it becomes.

Learn to Make Sharp Photos
There are two distinct types of sharpening within digital photography. The first is "optical sharpening," which is defined by the quality of your lens and your camera's sensor. The other type is "software sharpening," which is applied in post production. Learn about both kinds of photo sharpening in this article.

What Is Aperture?
Aperture is the term used to describe the amount of light that passes through a camera lens. DSLR lenses have an iris within them, which will open and close to allow certain amounts of light to reach the camera's sensor. Aperture has two functions on a DSLR. As well as controlling the amount of light passing through the lens, it also controls depth of field.

Decipher PPI, DPI, and Pixels
Understanding the differences between pixels, PPI (pixels per inch), and DPI (dots per inch) is important when scanning, printing, and editing your digital photos.

Learn How Digital Cameras Work
This detailed look at the technologies that make digital cameras work comes from the How Stuff Works Web site, and includes an animated look at how the sensor captures light.

Digital Storage for Photographs
Whatever you do with your images, you need to make sure that you back them up onto some sort of digital storage. Because neither prints nor computers are infallible, it's always best to have another copy of your files just in case. Read about the best photo storage options here.

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