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Lecture 2 How does a Digital Camera Work ?

Early Days
Need for other forms imaging Atomic age No silver based film

The First Digital Camera

Steven Sasson invented the first digital camera in 1975. It weighed 8 pounds (3.6 kg) and had only 0.01 megapixels. The image was recorded onto a cassette tape and this process took 23 seconds. His camera took images in black and white

History of Digital Cameras

mid-1970s, Kodak invented solid-state image sensors that "converted light to digital pictures" for professional and home consumer use. In 1986, Kodak scientists invented the world's first megapixel sensor, capable of recording 1.4 million pixels

In 1991, Kodak released the first professional digital camera system (DCS), aimed at photojournalists. It was a Nikon F-3 camera equipped by Kodak with a 1.3 megapixel sensor. The first digital cameras for the consumer-level market that worked with a home computer via a serial cable were the Apple QuickTake 100 camera (February 17 , 1994), the Kodak DC40 camera (March 28, 1995), the Casio QV-11 (with LCD monitor, late 1995), and Sony's Cyber-Shot Digital Still Camera (1996).

Canon EOS 300D (2003)

The first digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera that cost less than 1000 euros (830). At the time amateurs, and many professionals too, could only afford digital compact cameras or what were called "bridge cameras" - models with long range zooms that couldn't come off the body. This marked the beginning of the fall in the price of proper digital cameras.

The new approach [Digital Photography] has been enormously successful. Since film still provides better picture quality, digital cameras have not completely replaced conventional cameras.

But, as digital imaging technology has improved, digital cameras have rapidly become more popular.

More Arguments..
Conventional digital cameras struggle to deliver beautiful images in high-contrast scenes, because it is extremely difficult in such settings to avoid both washed-out highlights and pitch-black shadows with a single exposure adjustment. Compounding the problem is the fact that white-washed highlights are impossible to save even with the assistance of advanced image editing or retouching applications because they carry no image data to begin with.

The Digital Compact Camera

1. Battery 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

compartment: Flash capacitor: Flash lamp: LED: Lens: Focusing mechanism: CCD:

The Digital SLR Camera

Why are digital cameras replacing film cameras?

1. You can see your pictures within seconds of taking

them. 2. If you dont like the picture youve taken, you can delete it no more paying for pictures that didnt turn out. 3. Computer software programs allow you to do a variety of things with your photos, like file them in albums on the Internet, email them, manipulate them (crop out the expartner, or take out the red-eye), adjust the brightness, contrast or colour, and much more. 4. ? Cheaper no silver

5. Some Digital cameras are smaller and lighter, easier to

handle. 6. The initial cost pays for everything at once, no more buying film and paying for developing for every roll. 7. The CCD (the electronic part of the digital camera that converts your image into digital format) captures 70% of the available light, while photographic film captures only 2%.

To add to you Blog/Sketchbook ?

What advantages do you feel Digital has over Film ?


How do digital cameras work in a nut shell?

based on similar photographic processes as those used in film photography

the biggest difference between them and their predecessors (film) is the replacement of film with light-sensitive sensors
Here, the light sensor device absorbs the light particles and converts them into electrical charges

Sensors can be thought of as a grid of thousands or millions of solar cells which transform the image into an electrical charge.

The bigger the hit of light to the sensors, the greater the electrical charge produced, which means the photo will be more exposed.

next step is to read the accumulated charge of each When capturing and converting these charges, the sensor cells are colour-blind, recognising only the intensity of the light.

Digital cameras, therefore, have to employ coloured filters to produce the spectrum of colours which is present in the picture.

the final step is to convert the analogue signal to a digital one by passing the information on the sensor through an analogue to digital converter. This will turn the information into binary form, which can then be interpreted by a PC.

The predominant sensor used is a Charge Coupled Device (CCD), although Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) sensors are increasingly popular. Generally a larger sensor will produce a better quality image, as it is able to capture more light, which is one of the chief reasons why DSLRs offer superior image quality to smaller compact cameras.

But the size of the sensor is less important than the number of pixels it has. OR DOES IT Mega Pixel Myth Spatial Resolution: the ability of any image-forming device such as a camera, to distinguish small details of an object, thereby making it a major determinant of image resolution Which photo has the more pixels ?

Film - Camera Lens & Digital

Note - most sensors in digital cameras are smaller than their film counterpart, so the lens required to produce similar-sized images via a digital camera is smaller or Focal length is different.

Sensor Sizes

Typical sensor size of 3, 4, and 5 megapixel digital compact cameras

Typical sensor size of 6 megapixel digital SLRs

Digital vs Film Photography

35mm film can potentially contain at least 10 20 megapixels equivalent to say a 3900x2600 pixel image file Digital cameras today : 10 megapixels +

HD Films

Future or Gimmick ?
We already have quality you can print wall sized, we don't actually *need* more pixels in the image, what we need is more accuracy and realism in the detail they pick up. Today's 20+MP cameras are already stretching lenses.

Canon's 120-megapixel CMOS sensor


Mega Pixels

What is a Sensor?
We now know Digital cameras capture their images on a silicon semiconductor referred to as a digital sensor. composed of an array of photosensitive diodes called photosites that capture photons (subatomic light particles) and converts them to electrons. This build up of electrons in each photosite is converted to a voltage which in turn is converted to digital data as a picture element or pixel.

Light = Water
Photosite = BUCKET Water rather than light - poured No water No electrical charge therefore image is BLACK Lots of water bucket full therefore image is WHITE


Lens Light

Photosite collects Light photons

Readout from the photosite

But the image is black and white


Capturing Colour

Sensors (photosite) can not see colour. In order to get a full colour image, most sensors use filtering to look at the light in its three primary colours. Once the camera records all three colours, it combines them to create the full spectrum.

Types of Digital Sensors

In the digital camera world there are basically two types of digital sensors: CCD and CMOS, with some new and exciting technologies on the horizon.

CCD Sensors

Charged Coupling Device (CCD) sensors were invented by Dr. Willard Boyle and Dr. George Smith at Bell Labs in 1969. CCD sensors - name from how the charge is read after an image is captured. the sensor is able to transport the built up charge across itself without compromising the image quality. The first row of the array is read into an output register, which in turn is fed into an amplifier and an analogue to digital converter. After the first row has been read, it is dumped from the read out register and the next row of the array is read into the register.

The charges of each row are coupled so as each row moves down and out, the successive rows follow in turn. The digital data is then stored as a file that can be viewed and manipulated.

Until recently, CCD sensors have been predominant in digital cameras because of their high quality/ low noise images and their maturity, having been produced for over thirty years. new manufacturing methods of an old technology have led to inroads for it to surpass CCD sensors.

CMOS sensors

CMOS (Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) sensors or Active Pixel sensors - first discussed in a paper from Dr. Eric Fossum, a scientist at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in 1992. 1993 through to 1995, JPL developed much of the technology which would be implemented into the CMOS sensor. In 2001, Micron Technology used its extensive knowledge of CMOS wafer manufacturing to enhance the development further.

CMOS sensors derive their name from the way they are manufactured. They are cut from a CMOS wafer which is cheaper to produce then a CCD wafer, provides less power consumption, and also allow for more involved circuitry along side of the photosite array. Each photosite in the CMOS sensor has three or more transistors which has its benefits and its draw backs. The transistors allow for processing to be done right at the photosite, and each pixel/photosite can be accessed independently.

Because the transistors occupy space on the array, some of the incoming light hits the transistors and not the photosites, which leads to picture noise. CMOS sensors also function at a very low gain which may contribute to noise.

CCD vs. CMOS Sensors CCD expensive to produce because of special manufacturing methods employed consumes upto 100x more power than CMOS high quality, low noise images produced for longer period; higher quality images, more pixels technically feasible; other chips are used high CCD vs. CMOS Sensors CMOS inexpensive because CMOS wafers are used for many different types of semiconductors low power consumption susceptible to noise less mature but equal in low and middle range resolutions to CCD other circuitry easily incorporated on same chip low


power noise


extended functionality fill factor

For Your Blog/Sketchbook

What type of sensor do you have in your camera ? Answer for class next time please Next time how we get colour !