From Film To Digital Photography Technique

film-to-digital1Photography remains just that when you convert to digital cameras: you still have to know how to compose and shoot pictures to get the best results. The way you see your subject, and visualize the resulting image doesn’t change in any basic way.

However, digital photography technique has some of its own challenges and rewards, and there are exciting new techniques and technologies to understand and to master!

These are 10 of the things you will need to look out for:

1. Bigger isn’t always better: having more pixels doesn’t always translate into better images, as the size and quality of the pixels are also important. 6 million pixels of a bigger size can actually give you a clearer image than 8 million of a smaller size.

2. Optical zoom is more important for your image quality than digital zoom. Optical zoom delivers more detail to your camera sensor, whereas digital zoom is more of a cropping function applied to existing data (detail) captured by the sensor.

3. Digital photography technique relies on sensors which are often less discerning than film where it comes to rendering detail in shadows and highlights. You should therefore be careful not to “blow” your highlights: if they’re not captured to start with you can’t adjust them afterwards in your software processing!

4. While there is a general acceptance of the grain sometimes visible in film prints, the human eye is particularly good at seeing regular patterns, such as row-and-column “noise” in some digital prints. When you purchase your digital camera, it is a good idea to check the reviews regarding noise levels for particular models!

film-to-digital25. What about black and white shots? Digital cameras take pictures in color, therefore the most basic element of the digital darkroom (eg Photoshop) you will need to master is how and when to turn your digital color images into exactly the black and white image you want.

6. Digital photography technique gives you the freedom to choose on a per-shot basis many settings you were locked into or restricted to, when using film, such as film speed and white balancing.

7. When purchasing a digital camera you will have the option of models which produce only JPEG files (which are processed on board by your camera), or some which give the option of RAW files, which are unprocessed. The assumption is that RAW files can then be processed on your computer with more powerful software to achieve the desired results. RAW converters are improved all the time. Over time you will get better results from your existing RAW format picture files by applying the latest converters when they become available. (RAW is like wine: it improves over time, just let it lie until the right converter comes along…)

8. The LCD screen drains battery power. Use the viewfinder to compose your photographs. Most digital cameras will let you switch between the two.

film-to-digital39. You will need to figure out how to use the histogram function – once mastered it is an indispensible tool to get balanced pictures. Some cameras show the histogram in real time for easy correction of your exposure.

10. Digital cameras are susceptible to artifacts and aberrations that film cameras are not, such as those resulting from JPEG file compression, oversharpening, etc. However, most of these problems can be dealt with by applying the correct sofware solutions before printing.

For more information visit . Rika Susan researches, writes, and publishes full-time on the Web. Copyright of this article: 2005 Rika Susan. This article may be reprinted if the resource box – including the link – is left intact.

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