How Does a Digital Camera Work?


Quick Answer

Digital cameras translate pixel information from a photographic snapshot into a language that computers are able to understand. Digital cameras use the same lens technology as conventional film cameras, but once the image is snapped, a digital camera stores the light electronically on a semiconductor device rather than storing it on film.

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Full Answer

The image sensors that digital cameras use to transfer light energy into electrical information are usually referred to as charge coupled devices, but some digital cameras use image sensors called complementary metal-oxide semiconductors. CCD sensors are generally able to produce images with better quality because they can produce a higher number of pixels, making photographs more detailed and accurate to real life.

CMOS sensors are not used as often and have not developed as far technologically as CCD sensors have, but CMOS sensors do have the advantage of using far less battery power. Digital cameras and conventional film cameras both rely on additional functions, such as aperture, shutter speed and focus, to control the level and quality of the light that is converted by the image sensors. Once a digital photo's data is communicated to a computer, it can be reassembled from the language of bits and bytes back into an image with pixels and color information.

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