For hobbyists and many professional photographers, digital photography has truly revolutionized the way we take pictures. In contrast to film or analog photography which uses light-induced chemical changes to capture images, digital photography turns images into electronic data, enabling instant display and review of pictures. This has been a welcome change for hobbyists and travelers who wanted to see how their picture turned out without the need for the lengthy processes of film developing. The ability of storing the images in electronic form has also made it possible for novice photographers to store their pictures in their personal computers. It also enables them to easily make changes in the pictures using image editing software widely available in the market today. Instead of learning the complex steps in chemically developing the pictures, amateur photographers can now duplicate the special effects that used to be only accessible to professional photographers.
Digital photography has become even more important for photo journalists especially due to the ease and speed at which they can transmit their work. Photo journalists usually work at remote locations where it was difficult to process pictures. Many have resorted to bringing along miniature photo processing laboratories on assignment along with a bulk of film, photo paper, chemicals and other photo processing paraphernalia. For those working for newspapers and television, the speed at which pictures can be delivered was also of the essence. Before digital photography, the fastest way of transmitting their pictures was through telephone lines. Now, with the pictures in electronic form, they are able to use faster and more reliable means of transmission such as satellites, mobile phones and the internet.
Digital cameras work using charge-couple devices or CCDs which consist of integrated circuits having linked or couple light-sensitive capacitors. The first consumer camera using the CCD technology was the Mavica, made by Sony in 1981. It still lacks the LCD screen present in digital cameras today but relies on televisions to display its stored images. The DCS 100, also from Sony, was the first digital camera to be commercially available. However, high costs had prevented it from being used for purposes other than professional photography and journalism.
Today’s digital cameras have become multifunctional, capable of video and sound recording. To be able to store more images and videos, external memory in the form of memory cards (or sticks) may be purchased. Depending on the capacity of the memory card and the picture resolution, the number of images that may be stored may be increased considerably. The number and length of videos may be increased as well.
While the pixel count is the most common way at which consumers compare capabilities of digital cameras, it is not exactly the best means of gauging camera performance. Other factors that need to be considered are the processing systems, lens quality and the processing speed.
Many amateur photographers and hobbyists have found digital photography to be a suitable replacement to film photography, but there are still people who found the emerging trend hard to accept. According to some professional photographers, the image quality of digital photographs is still inferior to those taken by film cameras. There are also concerns that the rapid changes in technology can make the image formats used today obsolete and therefore unreadable in the near future. The difficulty of authenticating images especially for historical and archiving purposes has also made digital photography somewhat unreliable, making it unsuitable as evidence in court proceedings.