Advantages and Disadvantages of Digital Cameras
By Laurel Storm
Digital cameras are a relatively new invention, born of technological advances in the fields of microprocessors and compact data storage. Aimed at improving and simplifying the process of taking and sharing photos, especially for non-professional users, digital cameras offer both advantages and disadvantages, across different digital models and in comparison with traditional film cameras.
Digital cameras offer a variety of features beyond simple shooting. LCD viewfinders, which are available on all modern digital cameras, improve visibility and make framing photos easier. Many cameras boast features that make taking photos easier, such as anti-shake technology, face recognition and preset modes for different situations. Many digital cameras can also record audio and video, although not as well as a dedicated video camera.
Unlike traditional film cameras, which require the film to be developed, digital cameras allow for immediate reviewing of photos through its viewfinder screen. This allows for a certain amount of trial-and-error, giving you an opportunity to retake a photo that didn't come out the right way. While this is an upside for many photographers, especially amateur ones, it could be argued that it also removes a lot of the immediacy, spontaneity and artistry inherent in photography, leading to photos that may be technically perfect but not as unique.
Photos taken with a digital camera are stored on memory cards, and can be freely transferred to a computer whenever necessary. Coupled with the ability to immediately delete unwanted photos, this means a photographer using a digital camera can shoot many times the number of photos possible with a traditional film camera before having to stop. Furthermore, memory cards can be swapped at any time and there is no danger of light exposure, while traditional film cameras must rewind film to remove a canister or much of the photos could be destroyed.
Digital photographs can be saved in several different formats, each having advantages and disadvantages. Most consumer-grade digital cameras only have the option of saving photos in the JPEG format, with either low, medium or high quality. Because JPEG is a lossy format, not all the information captured by the camera's sensor will be preserved in the saved photo, even when shooting at the highest quality setting. For casual photography, this level of quality is perfectly sufficient. Furthermore, the compression of a JPEG results in a smaller file size, allowing for more photos to be taken without replacing the memory card. The JPEG format is viewable in any modern browser, making it easier to share photos online.
In contrast, more advanced cameras, especially those aimed at the professional photographer market, have the ability to save in the uncompressed RAW or TIFF format. These formats result in larger file sizes and are not widely supported by browsers, and therefore require conversion to a different format before they can be shared.
Certain features of digital cameras, chief among them the LCD viewfinder, significantly increase the drain on the camera's batteries. Although keeping the use of battery-heavy features to a minimum will increase the camera's battery life, carrying around spare batteries is essential, especially for extended shooting sessions.
Laurel Storm has been writing since 2001, and helping people with technology for far longer than that. Some of her articles have been published in "Messaggero dei Ragazzi", an Italian magazine for teenagers. She holds a Master of Arts in writing for television and new media from the University of Turin.