Copyright Michael Karbo, Denmark, Europe.

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    Chapter 2. The digital breakthrough

    If digital technology is to work well, there has to be lots of computer power and computer resources available. Many forms of digital hardware and highly developed software are also a condition. We got all these things on a large scale in the 1990. s, when new technologies and products arrived on the market at a furious pace:

  • Standardisation of computer hardware and software.

  • User-friendly and advanced software like Microsoft Windows and Adobe Photoshop as well as general graphic file formats.

  • Fast CPUs (main processors in a computer) and cheap RAM (memory) in large quantities.

  • Big hard disks.

  • Cheap and effective colour printers.

    All these new products have helped to prepare the way for the digital camera. s great public breakthrough, which came in the years from 1996 and onwards.

    Today the digital camera has overtaken the analog camera in nearly every way. It takes better pictures, it is often easier to use (when you have learnt how), and it is a far more flexible and creative a product. The individual photographs are free of charge and you can look at them immediately after you have taken them.

    The camera. s image computer gives photographers tons of options, which never existed at all in the world of the film. When a photograph is digitalised, then there is, in fact, no limits to the sort of processing you can give it afterwards. There is lots of room for creativity!

    2. Lots of buttons 

    The digital camera is an impressive example of the art of engineering. It contains mechanics, electronics, optics, microprocessors and software all squeezed together into a little camera box. This section will give a short introduction to the camera and its construction. If there is something you don. t understand, don. t worry . we will be dealing with it more thoroughly in the next sections.

    Figur 4 The camera. s body is completely equipped with a roller wheel, lamps and other gadgets. A photographer has to be familiar with his camera . know what the various buttons can be used for and how they work. There is definitely something to get going with.

    Activating the electronics

    A camera is a piece of electronics, which has to be switched on before you can take photographs with it. You do this with the on/off button, which usually is to be found in a ring around the release itself. When the camera is switched on, a lot of things are triggered off, such as the lens moving out. In most cameras the lens is parked inside the camera when it is switched off:

    When the camera is switched on, lights are turned on in all the different small light diodes, and the LCD screen is activated. On the inside all the different components are prepared and often sounds can be heard through the camera. s little amplifier. A lot of models play a little welcome melody . which can, fortunately, be switched off. In the course of a few seconds all of the mechanics, electronics and software are ready and the photographer can begin.

    The whole progress of the starting phase is finished very quickly but it hasn. t always been like that. You can easily feel the difference in the different cameras. . speed. . The latest models on the market will almost always be ready before earlier editions.

    Figur 5. The room is restricted so very often the buttons have more than one function. Here the on/off button is combined with the release, which is the shiny button in the middle. The off/on switch has altogether three functions: Taking pictures (symbol red camera), display images (green arrow in a frame) and close down the camera (OFF). These arrangements are typical for most cameras. (Fujifilm S7000)

    There can be many buttons, sockets and dials spread around the camera body. The buttons can have all sorts of different functions all depending on how the camera is to be used. The big tilt button is, for example, used for both the general setting of the camera and for selecting settings for individual images.

    Figur 6 At the bottom of the camera body you will find the opening to the battery compartment. In this case the camera receives power from ordinary AA batteries, which can be bought everywhere. Alternatively powerful rechargeable elements are used, which give a much longer life.

    Ready for taking pictures

    A few seconds after the camera has been switched on, it is ready to take images. Firstly, the most important thing is to choose the right subject. You can do this by using either the viewfinder or the LCD screen.

    Nearly all digital cameras today have a zoom-function, which is almost indispensable when it comes to composing the right image.

    When the subject has been selected, you press the release down. If you press the button half-way down, the camera gets a chance to focus and calculate the lighting. The calculated values for shutter speed and diaphragm aperture can often be read on the LCD screen.

    Figur 7. The camera’s LCD screen shows both the subject and information about a number of things, for example, lighting conditions and different settings.

    The image is taken first when the release is completely pressed down. This happens when the light sensitive image sensor is exposed to a very precise amount of light from the objective. This is called an exposure.

    The image is then processed in the camera’s built-in image computer and finally is stored on a memory card, which is the medium all photographs are stored in as long as they are in the camera itself. All this is done in a very short time, so that the camera is almost immediately ready to take a new image.

    This is a rather simplified description of what happens; it will often be necessary to select different settings before taking the image. But if we cut the sequence down to its most simple, it looks like this:

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