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Digital photography

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Digital photography is photography using a camera that uses an electronic sensor to record the image as a piece of electronic data rather than as chemical changes on a photographic film. The sensor is either a light sensitive CCD, or a CMOS semiconductor device. A digital memory device (such as a Compact Flash or a Smart Media card) is used for storing images, which may then be transferred to a computer later.

The advantages of this method over traditional film include the greatly reduced cost per image, the potential to make taken images instantly available for appraisal, the greater number of images that can be conveniently transported, and the removal of the requirement to develop the film in a photo lab.

Recent digital cameras from leading manufacturers such as Nikon and Canon have promoted the adoption of digital SLRs by photojournalists[?]. While the quality achieved currently (2002), does not match that of the universally popular 35mm film, images captured at 2+ megapixels are deemed to be of sufficient quality for small images in newspaper or magazine reproduction. One megapixel images are widely used for newsletters and other small publications. Six megapixel images, found in many of the digital SLRs often exceed the quality of film prints.

The theoretical maximum resolution of a camera providing <math>n</math> megapixels can be computed following the formula

<math>\frac{3}{4} x^2 = n</math>

for the width of the resulting image (where the ratio width:height is 4:3). This yields e. g. 1.92 megapixels for an image of 1600x1200.

With the acceptable image quality and the other advantages of digital photgraphy (particularly the time pressures, of vital importance to daily newspapers) an increasing number of professional news photographers use these devices.

It has also been adopted by many amateur snapshot photographers, who take advantage of the convenience of the form when sending images by email and to place on the World Wide Web.

In late 2002, 2 megapixel cameras were available for less than $100 and some 1 megapixel cameras were under $60. At the same time, many discount stores with photo labs introduced a "digital front end," allowing consumers to obtain true chemical prints (as opposed to ink-jet prints) in an hour. These prices competed with prints from negatives.

But the general public still purchased far more single-use film cameras than digital models.

Some commercial photographers, and some amateurs interested in artistic photography, tend to avoid digital photography at this stage, as they believe that the image quality available from a digital camera of a given price is greatly inferior to that available from a film camera.

Other commercial photographers, and many amateurs, have enthusiastically embraced digital photography, as they believe that its flexibility and lower long-term costs outweigh its initial price disadvantages.

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