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Digital Photography

Introduction to Digital Photography

Digital photography is often confusing to many people who are starting out to pick up photography as a hobby or just trying to learn how to take better pictures. Although most digital cameras available on the market allow you to simply point your camera and quickly snap a picture with the touch of a button, there is often a lot more going on behind the scenes than you may have realized. All sorts of things happen in the camera once the shutter button is pressed. In this basic introduction to digital photography, I hope to try to give digital beginners a summary to the basic terms and jargons used in digital photography. Being familiar with the terminology used in any subject of interest is always useful, and digital cameras are no exception. So here we go!

To start off, digital photography is a form of photography that utilizes digital technology to make digital images of subjects. Until the advent of digital technology, photographers used photographic film to create images which could be made visible by photographic processing. Digital images can be displayed, printed, stored, manipulated, transmitted, and archived using digital and computer techniques, without chemical processing.

In order to to have a holistic understanding on digital photography, Put simply, understanding the most important terms about digital cameras will allow you to make a better-informed purchase of a new digital camera, let you have more control over your digital camera’s features, and help you to take the best quality photos possible.


A megapixel refers to one million pixels. When we use the term megapixel, we are referring to the maximum resolution at which a digital camera can take photos in millions of pixels. A pixel is a tiny square on a computerized display that is so small it appears as a dot. The display screen is a solid grid of these squares or dots, which can be easily seen with a magnifying glass. The more pixels or dots that make up the display screen, the clearer the resolution or image will be.This means that a camera with a range of 4 megapixels can take photos which each contain a maximum of 4 million pixels.

But what does this mean to the consumer? One word: quality. A higher megapixel count means better quality photos, and considering the price of digital camera getting lower all the time; you should try to stick with a digital camera that has a 3 megapixel range or above, especially if you intend of making prints of your photos.

Focal Length

Focal length is a term overlooked far too often in amateur photography, and refers to how much the lens of a camera can magnify a shot. The focal length of a lens determines its angle of view, and also how much the subject will be magnified for a given photographic position. Focal length also determines the perspective of an image. Longer focal lengths require shorter exposure times to minimize bluring caused by the shake of hands.The Focal Length means how much can your camera see.

Optical Zoom

Optical zoom works just like a zoom lens on a film camera. The lens changes focal length and magnification as it is zoomed. Image quality stays high throughout the zoom range. Of the two types of zoom available, optical and digital, optical zoom is far more important. Optical zoom uses the camcorder's lens to magnify part of the image without losing any image quality. Optical zoom lenses physically extend to magnify your subject. A motor controls the lens movement. When you press the switch to "W" or "T," the subject is either magnified or reduced in size. The "W" stands for "wide-angle" (reduce). The "T" stands for "telephoto" (magnify). Digital Zoom

Digital zoom crops your image and magnifies the result of the cropping. This magnification process is called interpolation. To make the cropped area bigger, digital zoom makes up, or interpolates, pixels to add to the image, which may give less than satisfactory results. Unlike optical zoom, which uses the physical lenses inside the camera to enlarge a scene, digital zoom electronically enlarges the pixels in the center area of a photo, meaning that any time you use the digital zoom function on your camera you are actually sacrificing the quality of your photos. It is a good idea to disable the digital zoom function all together to stop this from happening.


The term ISO stands for the International Standards Organization, but what does this have to do with your digital camera? The organization sets standards for photography, and the ISO range of a camera refers to how sensitive the camera is to light. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive the image sensor and therefore the possibility to take pictures in low-light situations.

For instance, a low ISO number (100 or under) is not very sensitive to light, and is best for shots in good lighting conditions. A higher ISO range means that the camera will be suitable for photography in darker conditions, so it is best to look for a camera that has an adjustable range; ISO 100 to 400 should be adequate for most people’s needs.

Shutter Lag

Shutter lag refers to the time between pressing the button to take a photograph and the time when the picture actually gets taken.This is a common problem in the photography of fast-moving objects, and is usually solved by pressing the button with forethought. Many camera manufacturers do not list the shutter lag time for their cameras, so the best way to find this out is by testing a camera before you buy.


I hope this article has helped you to better understand some of the most important terms used in digital photography, and in turn will help you better understand the subject as well as choose the digital camera that best suits your needs! Now that you have read my article, I hope that you will not have to grapple with confusing terms and jargons used in photography while flipping through photography books and magazines like I did when I first started picking up photography. If you would like, please check out my blog for more photography tips.

About the Author
Go On, Be A Photographer Today:)

Gladys Choo