What is digital photography? Discover how technology helps you to improve your captures


Knowing what digital photography is is essential to understand how, over the years, this industry has evolved by leaps and bounds. Nowadays, there are several mechanisms, tools and techniques to create impressive shots in just a few minutes.

Also, by having full knowledge about what digital photography is, you will discover how to apply those tools to take your career as a photographer to another level. Remember that, in addition to constant training, practice is important and is one of the factors that will make the difference in your professional career.

Therefore, in this article, we will tell you what digital photography is, what its characteristics are, what advantages it offers you and what digital photography is all about. After reading it, you will be ready to make the most of this process.

keep reading!

what is the history of digital photography?

To get into context, before defining what digital photography is, we consider important to detail some of the events that started this process. To do this, we will talk a little about the origin of photography, focusing clearly on the digital format.

The history of digital photography begins in 1975, year in which Steven Sasson, an electrical engineer who worked for the company Kodak, developed a prototype of a digital camera that did not need film to work but an electronic sensor .

But how did Sasson develop such an artifact and give birth to digital photography? Years earlier, between the 1960s and 1970s, the electronics industry had produced the first sensors that made it possible to record small monochrome images.

So Sasson took one of them, a lens and an electronic circuit, and programmed them to take the first digital photos. With these three elements he was able to develop a prototype digital camera whose design was patented by Kodak in 1978.

The first digital camera was focused on taking a still photo with a resolution of 0.01 megapixels, and weighed no more and no less than 3.5 kg. Although it is the most distant predecessor of digital photography, it was not until the 1990s that the company commercialized the product.

The boom in digital photography

In 1991, Kodak launched the Digital Camera System (DCS) in which they married a 1.3 megapixel sensor with a Nikon F3 camera body. The camera had a separate unit connected by a cable on which the picture taken could be displayed and archived. This is the beginning of the rise of digital photography.

The initial proposal was to have a camera that could facilitate the dissemination of images by creating files to be printed in newspapers and magazines, something that had never been contemplated until then.

However, it was not until the year 2000 that the massive use of the Internet began and, with it, the motivation to share content on various social platforms such as Facebook began to grow. Thus, the perfect scenario is created for the dissemination of visual material, such as the digital photo.

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what is digital photography?

Okay, now that you know how this format was born, it is time to define what digital photography is.

According to the official website of Anovo, a company that provides technological solutions, the definition of digital photography lies in “the process involving electronic sensors, photosensitive units, electronic signals and a memory to collect all the files captured by the photographer”.

In addition, here come into play concepts such as “pixel”, which refers to the size of the photo; and “zoom”, a function that allows to enlarge the images immediately; which mark the difference between digital and analog photography.

All these mechanisms working together create a practical and easy to use system for anyone interested in portraying their day to day life, which is why it is common to see different types of photography nowadays. Thanks to this technological process, which is digital photography, both professionals and amateurs can share their vision of the world.

On the other hand, digital photography is not limited to images captured from a camera, as these can also come from a smartphone or cell phone. Even, many of these electronic devices have better resolution and features than a camera. The trick is to know how to take advantage of them to create authentic works of art.

Image: Pexels

what are the characteristics of a digital image?

By this point, you already know what digital photography is, however, knowing what the characteristics of this process are will help you go even deeper into this concept. Therefore, below we will describe in detail the main characteristics of a digital photo.

Get ready to know which are the factors that make the difference between digital and analog photography:

1. Its size is variant

To begin with, the size of the images is a very important point to consider within this photography format.

During the first years when digital photography was developed, the size and resolution were very changeable and not very practical. Today, that situation has been reversed and many measures have been standardized. However, although there are no cameras that reproduce less than 15 megapixels, there are variations from that size upwards.

In turn, the display size of images varies depending on the device used to view them, so that a digital photo today does not have a fixed dimension.

2. They have good sensitivity

The sensitivity for capturing light, also known as ISO in photography, has been improving as new models of digital cameras are launched. It is now a fact that all cameras can deliver good results in normal room light .

Therefore, it is becoming less and less necessary to use additional light sources to capture a digital photo.

Image: Pexels

3. Images can be easily disseminated

The characteristics of a digital image, therefore, are adapting to new technologies. As is well known, the permanent use of computers, tablets and smartphones puts us in contact with digital photographs on many platforms: social networks, blogs, websites or simple e-mails.

We no longer find photographs “alone” as it could happen in analog photographs. Moreover, the copying of photographs on paper, which used to be the only channel for the circulation of photos, has been replaced by what is a digital photo, leaving the copying on paper only as an artistic alternative.

4. They are easy to store

Finally, another feature of digital photography is that they are very practical to save or store. The photo archive is now almost completely digital so that we can save as many photos as we want in our online archive .

This way, you can access your digital photos whenever you want from a mobile device or computer. This way, you don’t have to accumulate albums at home with all the images you capture in your day to day life.

Image: Pexels

what is digital photography?

After understanding what digital photography is and what its characteristics are, it is important that you also know what it consists of, that is, how a digital photo is captured.

Before starting, it is important to clarify that this process is made up of 3 fundamental steps that are performed sequentially with the integrated computer of the current cameras. In the following lines, we describe each one of them:

1. Capture

To obtain a photograph, a material capable of reacting to light (called photosensitive) is required, in the case of digital photography, this photosensitive material is a chip.

Of course, this chip is incorporated in the digital camera as its own feature, but did you know that it is the same chip that a scanner has? that’s right! This tool is a derivative of the photocopier and both are, at the end of the day, a type of camera with a particular use.

2. Processing

When that chip captures the light and the digital photo is produced, what remains is to sort the images coming from the sensor into a file and save them in some device.

It should be clarified that this stage is not the same as a post-production process in which the images are developed or manipulated; here the necessary elements are simply adjusted inside the camera to achieve a quality digital photograph .

3. Output

In this phase, the file is prepared in the most appropriate way for the type of presentation that the digital image will have .

To do this, always consider the file size that will produce a high-resolution image and the dimensions for use on a poster, for example, versus that required for an image that will only be viewed on a cell phone screen.

Image: Pexels

what are the advantages and disadvantages of digital photography?

When we know what digital photography is, we can put into consideration which alternative we are going to choose to use: digital photos or analog photos. However, this analysis would not be complete without taking into consideration the advantages and disadvantages of digital photography .

Therefore, in this section, we will focus on the pros and cons of this process so you can make a final decision.

Advantages of digital photography

Let’s start with the benefits of capturing a photograph in digital format:

1. Speed

One of the advantages of digital photos is that this system allows to have the recorded images instantly, without the need to take the film to the laboratory and develop the negatives to be able to see them.

This advantage in image availability allows the photographer to make the corrections he/she considers pertinent immediately, in order to achieve the desired photo.

2. Link

Another advantage of digital photography is that the camera can be connected to any computer or device capable of displaying the photos on a monitor. In this way, the photos can be sent directly by e-mail or posted on social networks in a few minutes .

In case you use a cell phone to take pictures, you can share your digital photos without the need to connect your cell phone to another device.

3. Information

Every time the camera takes a photo, it creates a metadata file (non-visible data) and saves within the image file relevant information of the capture such as date, time, aperture, shutter speed and ISO speed.

This information is very useful to study the images and understand more about digital photography. Also, it makes it easier to sort and manage photographic files.

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4. Transformation

Professional digital cameras have the option to customize different types of user, allowing to adjust important characteristics of the digital image such as saturation, contrast, sharpness and color tone, and also allow a customized management of white balance, which can vary significantly the color range.

In addition, they allow a customized management of the white balance, which can significantly vary the chromatic range. On the other hand, they also make it possible to capture digital photographs in black and white, sepia, with filters, etc.

5. Production costs

Another benefit of digital photography over analog photography is that production can be increased at a lower cost. This is possible because it eliminates the need to use a roll of film to take pictures.

6. Availability

Technological convergence has brought digital cameras to cell phones and other devices such as tablets, thus increasing the number of users who can take digital photos exponentially.

This new format, which is digital photography, has created a revolution in this industry, since images are increasingly displayed on screens rather than on paper.

Image: Pexels

Disadvantages of digital photography

On the other hand, we cannot leave aside the disadvantages of this type of photography. Below, we tell you what are the negative aspects of this digital process:

1. Noise

As a first point, some experienced photographers comment on the fact that the noise in a digital photograph is more noticeable than that of an analog camera. This usually occurs due to the heating of the device by the current flow that is kept active to capture an image.

2. Cost of acquisition

Although one way to dabble in digital photography is to capture images from your smartphone, if you want to pursue a professional career, once you have gained experience, it is best to purchase an advanced camera.

According to Hypop, an Australian photographic equipment store, professional cameras tend to be more expensive than their analog counterparts. The same goes for the other additional tools you need to acquire to improve your results, such as flashes, tripods and others.

3. Plagiarism

Finally, because digital photos can be easily spread on the web, there is a high percentage of plagiarism. The almost infinite replication of photos on the internet means that copyrights are in permanent question. Therefore, it is advisable to always include a watermark to prevent others from being able to profit from your work.

Image: Pexels

good job! You have finished our article and now you know what digital photography is, its advantages and disadvantages, its features and the process involved in capturing an image in this format.

It is not superfluous to tell you that, if you want to dedicate yourself to this art, the road is just beginning. Therefore, as Fernando O’Farrill, professor of the digital photography fundamentals course, mentions, “to master photography, it is necessary to put everything you have learned into practice”.

Our expert recommends doing photography challenges on a constant basis, such as, for example, going out into the street to take pictures exclusively in black and white.

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