digital camera

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digital camera

[′dij·əd·əl ′kam·rə]
A television camera that breaks up a picture into a fixed number of pixels and converts the light intensity (or the intensities of each of the primary colors) in each pixel to one of a finite set of numbers.

digital camera

(graphics, hardware)
A camera that captures and stores still images as digital data instead of on photographic film.

The first digital cameras became available in the early 1990s

digital camera

A still camera that records images in digital form. Unlike traditional film cameras that record a light image on film (analog), digital cameras record discrete numbers for storage on a flash memory card or optical disc. As with all digital devices, there is a fixed, maximum resolution and number of colors that can be represented. Images are transferred to the computer with a USB cable, a memory card or wireless. Digital video cameras (see camcorder) also use FireWire.

Digital Advantages
There are three distinct advantages of digital cameras over their analog counterparts. First, you can review the finished image immediately and erase the others. Second, you can take and print one picture without waiting to develop an entire roll of film. Finally, memory cards, the storage mechanism most widely used for "digital film," are reusable over and over. See film camera.

Chips: The Camera's Film
Digital cameras record color images as intensities of red, green and blue, which are stored as variable (analog) charges on a CCD or CMOS image sensor chip. The charges are converted to digital and stored in flash memory chips on a memory card such as CompactFlash, SD or Memory Stick. Some still cameras use optical discs for storage instead of flash memory, and video cameras use tape, optical discs and hard disks (see DV).

The size of the CCD or CMOS chip determines the picture's resolution, but the analog-to-digital converter (ADC), which converts the charges to digital data, determines the color depth. In 2002, Foveon introduced a breakthrough in color accuracy with its X3 CMOS chip (see Bayer pattern and X3).

Digital video cameras use the same image sensing methods as still cameras, but in addition to storing the images digitally, they output NTSC video for playback on any TV. See digital camera features, flash memory, photo sharing site, photo editor, photo scanner, X3 and DSLR.

Digital Camera
Behind the lens, a CCD or CMOS image sensor chip picks up the image as variable (analog) charges that are turned into digital by an analog-to-digital circuit (see A/D converter). A DSP chip adjusts contrast and detail and compresses the digital data for storage.

Camera and "Film"
A classic now, in 1996, the Kodak DC50 was one of the first digital cameras. Holding 24 images in internal memory, it used flash disks for more storage. (Image courtesy of SanDisk Corporation,
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