Tag Archives: History of photography

How digital cameras work – With James May

How Digital Cameras Work?

• How Do Digital Cameras Work •
You don’t have to know how your digital camera works to enjoy it. But knowing a little helps you to enjoy it better.
[Image taken from the video].

Understanding your camera better…

You don’t need an in-depth know how. Just enough to make it easy to learn more. Knowing a bit about how digital cameras work is really useful. Here is a quick and easy intro…

A few words from me

Those who know the world famous TV show, Top Gear How do digital cameras work: link to Top gear on Wikipedia - External link - opens new tab/page know James May External link - opens new tab/page. He has a zany sense of humour. Recently he’s been doing simple science videos. In the video he shows how digital cameras work. Off-hand jokes and jibes at Richard Hammond How do digital cameras work: Richard Hammond - Jibes - External link - opens new tab/page make the fast-paced video fun. Watch and learn how your camera works.

How digital cameras work. With James May.

Head Squeeze  How digital cameras work - from Head Squeeze :: External link - opens new tab/page

Some things to think about…

The history in the video is a bit misleading. How digital cameras work was worked out in the 1970s. By the 1980s sensors were quite advanced. But, it was not until the 1990s that digital image sensors became consumer items. Then camera makers made them small and cheap. To find out more see: A History of Photography (pt.6). The Digital Age.

Mr. May gets the idea of a pixel wrong too. He talks about pixels being on the sensor. Many people have this idea. Pixels are in images on screen. Data for digital images is collected on a digital image sensor. Each point where the data for each pixel is collected is called a photosite. Just remember, photosites collect data on the sensor. Pixels display the data in the image on the screen.

For more information about pixels check these links…
Definition: Pixel; Pixels
Definition: Photosite; Photosites
Definition: Sensor; Image Sensor; Digital Image Sensor

For some more context on pixels in your images check this: Getting down to pixel level.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Three photographic heroes (pt 1) – Ansel Adams

Photo-montage - Portraits of Ansel Adams

Photo-montage – Portraits of Ansel Adams

Its good to have heroes!

In contemporary culture they are often elevated to super-beings. My photographic heroes are of the old school. They’re people to look up to, people who represent thought and development in photography. So here are three photographers who I admire. They have all been influential in my thinking and development as a photographer. In part one of this short series I briefly cover Ansel Adams. I hope you will find his example inspirational as I do.

Ansel Adams (Feb. 20, 1902 – Apr. 22, 1984)

I admire thinking photographers. Adams was definitely a thinker. He is widely quoted both in photographic circles and outside them – his ideas span music, conservation, photography and many other subjects. As a conservationist he was one of the early protectors of the environment and as a photographer he produced some of the most iconic photographs of the national parks in the USA.

In particular Adams brilliant photographs of Yosemite National Park in America captured the imagination of a generation. Adams first went there when he was sixteen and returned to photograph the magnificent scenery on many occasions throughout his sixty year career. He also captured, in fantastic tonal detail, many other of the amazing wilderness locations in the USA. All of this was before these places were subject to the stresses and damage caused by tourism.

While photography was what he was mainly known for, he was only a practising hobbyist until well into his twenties. He intended to be a professional musician and worked hard at it from the time he taught himself the piano aged twelve. His schooling was limited but his concentration on music and photography proved sufficient to sharpen his intellect. He possessed an eidetic memory (or photographic memory) and and this could only have enhanced his excellent understanding of tonal control and landscape structure in his compositions.

Adams is best known for his black and white landscapes, but also produced the first presidential portrait photograph and worked with colour photography. He developed the Zone system in photography – a method of optimal exposure control for photographers. He taught a number of student photographers who went on to become influential themselves. He also developed a number of important photographic and compositional techniques. As a writer and photographer he published a number of books about photography and of his own pictures as well as work about his photographic discoveries.

Adams legacy lies not only in his superb landscape work, but in his tireless work to elevate photography to a true art-form. In his later years he worked with galleries and institutions worldwide to promote and develop photography. He will be remembered mostly for his pictures. But in fact he influenced a generation of photographers and several generations of the public by the work that he did in conservation and art development. Later in his career he was honoured with both photographic and general honours including the highest civilian honour in the USA. He published a number of books and worked with photographers, politicians, academics and publishers to build a better understanding of photography as a public domain. He should be remembered not just for his amazing photographs, but also for establishing photography as a form of public expression and passion. He was a remarkable man who will live on through his pictures.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

Of video graphics and cameras

The history of video graphics.

While computers were developing the monitors were also undergoing considerable development. The significance of these improvements had an impact on the development of digital cameras. The modern LED display of the camera owes little to the original cathode Ray Tubes of the first monitors. However, the resolution of the displays and the aspect ratio was important.

Early Video Resolution

Prior to the 1970s most computer displays resembled big typewriters. They were noisy, mechanical units with wide paper (128 or 256 spaces across). Early video displays were pretty poor too. They were only able to display characters and visually limited graphical blocks. After the introduction of colour television in the 1970s computer screens did not improve much until after the invention of the Apple Macintosh in the 1980s. Computers up until that time had little or no graphical display capability. However, Apple and Microsoft were racing one another to improve graphics systems. By the late 1980s computer graphics had come of age. The video graphic systems needed to improve to meet the new standards of computer displays being sought out for the new consumer market in personal computers.

In 1987, International Business Machines (IBM) released – VGA – the Video Graphics Array standard. This standard was quickly found to be insufficient and in 1990 IBM released the XGA – Extended Graphics Array standard.

Throughout the 1990’s the improvements in video standard moved rapidly. The release of flat panel displays and especially the LCD screens had a significant impact on digital camera technology.

LCD displays

Through the 1990s the video standards evolved. However, the developments of plasma screens and Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) screens (flat screens) had begun. By the year 2000 Plasma flat screens had largely been used for large television displays, mostly those in excess of the 30inch standard. The more flexible format, the LCD screen, had been gaining ground in a variety of sizes. The first LCD displays for cameras went to market in the late 1990s. These began to have a significant impact on consumer interest in the camera market after the year 2000. LCD Displays are used today on nearly all DSLRs and most other consumer cameras.

Video Graphics after the year 2000

Following the growing use of flat panel displays in computing, and its adoption by camera manufacturers the video graphics standards continued to develop. After the year 2000 camera manufacturers have continued to try to get greater numbers of crystals (pixels) into the small screen on the back of the camera. Of course the graphics standards have also been developing. Most of the improvements had been based on the XGA Video standard.

In the last decade the video graphics situation became much more complex. High Definition systems (HD) have become important in all aspects of media, broadcasting and technology. The aspect ratio (see below), the number of pixels in the screen, the colour depth and the contrast capability of modern screens have all improved to a considerable degree. The extent to which these properties relate to different media has become differentiated. Video, digital camera image sensors, televisions, printing, and other display technologies have all evolved standards that are applicable to their specific requirements. HD has come to mean a high resolution (exceeding 1920 x 1080 pixels), ‘deep colour’ (billions of colour possibilities), high contrast, high refresh rate screen technology. The situation is confused by a large number of different national requirements globally. As a result the various graphics media standards have tended to be established more by manufacturer than by international standards and also by the broadcast standards accepted worldwide. Manufacturers have therefore tended to concentrate on making their equipment compatible with a wide range of common aspect ratios and compatible with local national broadcast standards.

The real meaning of HD for camera owners therefore relies on the specification of the equipment rather than an established standard. Equipment like monitors and screens on cameras are therefore best researched by comparison of specifications between models.