How Do Digital Cameras Work?

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Digital cameras work by allowing light to come through a lens opening, which then causes an electronic reaction from special sensors inside the camera. Find out how digital cameras create pictures using computer language with information from a professional photographer in this free video on digital cameras.

Part of the Video Series: Digital Camera Technology
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name's James Flint. I'm a professional photographer, and I want to talk to you a little bit today about how digital cameras actually work. Before you can understand how a digital camera works, you need to have a basic idea of how a film camera works. Because, most of the principles for a digital camera, are built off of the old functions. Now, you need to remember that the camera has been around a long time, since, so long ago that you used to not need any electricity to run a camera. It was all, basically, chemical reactions occurring with the light. In the olden days, or still today, when people that use film, the film, is in the back of your camera, behind your lens, and as you take a picture, the eye of your camera opens up, allowing light from the scene that you're photographing to come into your camera. Now, the major difference is with a film camera, when the lens would open, the light would come through, and it would create a chemical reaction with the film, thus creating the negative, which you could then turn into a photograph, in the dark room. The difference is, a digital camera, is working with a computer, so it's going to, all the information is going to be in bits, and bytes, and it's going to be in a computer language. So, now as opposed to a chemical reaction occurring, there is a digital and electronic reaction going on. So, the light's going to come into your lens, just as it does with a regular film camera, only now, instead of hitting the film where the chemical's on it, it's hitting special sensors. There's a variety of sensors, depending on which camera you have, but it's just important to understand, that what's happening is the light, is coming through your lenses, the camera is doing several conversions, and as this light hits the sensors, it's creating a chain of ones and zeros, which is a computer language, bits and bytes, that will calculate the pixels for your image. So, I could go into a lot more detail, but basically you just need to understand that digital cameras, have a very important sensor inside of them that once the lens is open, and the light comes through, the information gets transmitted onto the chip, and stored into the camera. And then when you connect with a computer, or view it on the LCD screen in the back, you'll see that all these ones and zeros, gets turned into an image. And that is how a digital camera works.

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