Advantages of Digital Photography

The most obvious advantage to digital photography is the technology itself. By converting analog information to bits of data, processors can store images on digital media instead of on film. Those same images can be viewed immediately after they're taken, and you can delete them from memory if they are not acceptable. For photographers needing instant feedback, digital photography is the easiest and fastest way to get it. This is an enormous advantage if you are just learning photography. In practical terms, it tells the photographer immediately whether the shot was successful or not since the photo can be reviewed instantly in the LCD screen. If something isn't right about the photo — say, the shutter speed or exposure is wrong — steps can be taken immediately to correct the shot.

The creative possibilities of digital can be lots of fun, too. In the color insert, this can be seen in the picture of the beach and cliffs at sunset, rendered to look like a painting.

FIGURE 3-2 There was little contrast in the original photo of a building in downtown Boston. Both the contrast and sharpness have been increased digitally in PhotoShop.

Instant Feedback

This quick feedback enables the photographer to rapidly understand what works. You can get instant feedback from a digital camera, instead of waiting for days to get your prints back from a photo lab and then trying to remember what the conditions were like when you took a particular photo. Digital also alleviates the anxiety of wondering if you got the shot at all; you will know instantly whether something needs to be rephotographed.

Taking pictures digitally also speeds up and streamlines the entire picture-taking process, and makes it far easier to add images to digital communications such as e-mail and websites. To get conventional film-based images into a digital media world, prints or slides must be developed and then converted to digital format by scanning them into a computer. Digital images, on the other hand, can be transferred directly from the camera to the computer — even directly to a printer in some instances. Some cameras can even transfer images through wireless infrared. The images in digital files do not degrade over time as they do in the world of film, and you can make perfect copies of digital files — no matter how many times you copy the same image, each will be identical to the first. With film, every generation will be worse than the previous ones.

Shooting digitally eliminates having to develop film, fuss with film cartridges, or worry about the quality of the film itself. Memory cards can sit inside a digital camera forever. Leave your film inside your camera too long and it's likely the images on it will be compromised.

Easy Editing

Images from digital cameras can be easily edited without taking them into the darkroom. All you need is the hardware and software necessary to do so, and these days almost everyone owns a computer. You can crop, straighten, and retouch images and adjust the color, saturation, contrast, and brightness. You can add words or special effects if you like. It is even possible to scan old photographs into a computer and restore them with such programs as Adobe PhotoShop Elements.

Increasing Affordability

There are many economical digital point-and-shoot cameras on the market that are compact, quiet, and convenient, which makes them extremely popular. Most are small enough to slip into a pocket; some even small enough to fit on a keychain. As the cost behind the underlying chip technology has come down, so too have the prices of cameras. As in the world of computer technology, you see huge drops in price and amazing leaps in memory size and image quality when advances are made.

Color quality in digital photographs can often be so much better than images that are taken from film cameras. The pictures are more vivid, are sharper and brighter, and tend to have an almost three-dimensional look — which is very difficult to achieve in prints from film cameras.

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