Digital Photography Basics if you’re just Starting Out
Helping to Take the Byte out of Megapixels!
What you really need to know about megapixels – digital camera basics
In film photography, tiny particles of a chemical called silver halide are embedded in the film on an emulsion. They turn colour when exposed to light. So your final film image is made up of very fine specks of this silver stuff.
Instead of film, images in a digital camera are captured on an electronic sensor – the CCD, which is short for charge coupled device. (Some newer cameras use a device called a CMOS, but more about that later!) The CCD is contains light sensitive elements (pixels) that capture your image and store it on a memory card or “digital film” as some people call it.
The sensor/CCD is responsible for two very important aspects of your final photograph – the angle of view and the size of your final image.
Typical CCDs are smaller than 35mm film, so HOW you see your image through the lens or viewfinder will NOT be the same as with a 35 mm camera. The area of coverage in your photo will be different than with a 35 mm camera, and because the sensor is smaller in a digial camera, your image may not be as crisp when you enlarge it to an equivalent 35 mm size.
So you can now understand how critical a part of the digital camera the CCD can be!
More Digital Photography Basics: Resolution, Pixels and Image Size
The most important thing for digital photography basics is the CCD size, or in techno talk, “resolution.” This is just a fancy term for how detailed an image you can get from the CCD sensor. CCDs come in an assortment of sizes. This size will influence the quality of your images, so depending on what the main purpose of your photographs will be, you’ll want a CCD that can deliver.
Of all the digital photography basics, Resolution is what causes everyone the most confusion. This is where the MEGAPIXELS come in. Megapixels tell you how big the CCD is. You’ve seen cameras with 3 megapixels, 5 megapixels, 6.1 megapixels and some now even consumer level cameras have 10 or more megapixels! Basically, the bigger the number of megapixels, the higher the resolution, and the more your photograph can be magnified (printed) without seeing any degradation.
For example, if you are only going to use your digital camera to take photos to share with friends and family over the Internet or on the Web, you won’t require a huge CCD with lots of megapixels. To view great quality pictures on a monitor, your resolution only needs to be about 72 pixels per inch (ppi), so you’ll need fewer megapixels.
But if you want to blow your photos up to 11 X 16 to frame and hang on your walls, you’ll need a bigger CCD for more resolution (more megapixels).
Easy as pie, right? Right!
For more tips and tricks about resolution and printing your photos, click here.