Digital photography has truly revolutionized photography for generations of people. Yes, it seems as though everyone has a digital camera these days-from five-year-olds with their pink and blue point and shoots to grandmothers snapping pictures of their grandkids on the beach with their fancy SLRs (single lens reflex cameras). Consider the many ways digital cameras have changed the role of photography.
1. Instant gratification. Not since the introduction of the Polaroid have amateur photographers known the kind of instant gratification digital cameras can deliver. And the quality is so much better! With digital cameras today, there is absolutely no waiting-not even for the picture to become visible. A quick glance at the LCD screen that comes standard on every digital camera-just a second after snapping the shot-provides an immediate preview and a chance to see how beautiful the photo will be. And minutes later, you can have the photos downloaded to your computer to view them full size and printing out on a home photo printer.
2. Second chances. The other thing that instant preview does is help amateur photographers ensure they got the shot they wanted. No more waiting for film to be developed only to discover someone's eyes were closed or a head was turned. With a quick glance at the LCD screen, you can see it for yourself, make any corrections necessary by redirecting your subjects, and retake the shot immediately.
3. Lots more pictures! As memory cards come down in price and grow in size, the capacity for more pictures continues to grow. No longer limited by 12, 24, or 36 exposure rolls of film, most cards now enable shooters to capture hundreds of images (depending on the size of the files) before needing to "reload."
4. Reduced cost. When film was developed in a lab, photographers got prints of all their shots-even the ones with their thumbs in the frame or the blurry photos where the subject was hardly recognizable. They paid for a roll of film, paid to get the film developed, and paid for the number of prints according to the number of exposures that were taken. There was no picking and choosing. Today with digital technology photographers only pay to have prints made from their best shots-and they don't even have to pay for film anymore. For anyone who takes a lot of pictures, that's a significant cash savings over a very short period of time.
5. Learn as you go. With traditional film cameras, you could experiment with different camera settings and try new techniques, but you still had to wait until the film was developed to see the prints and judge the effect-and then you usually couldn't even remember what you fiddled with on the camera to get that effect. Today's digital technology lets you take one shot, change the aperture, exposure, f-stop, or preset camera mode, and then snap another shot, and you can compare the results immediately and even upload them to your computer to view them side-by-side. The digital files also contain all of your camera settings within them, so you can look at the camera data to see what you did to achieve the effect you like the most-now or at any time in the future.
No doubt digital technology will continue to evolve and digital cameras will keep getting enhanced. In recent years, the standard size pictures (in megapixels) most digital cameras can produce has doubled or tripled. But there is one thing that won't ever change: the effect of digital technology on the field of photography is truly a wonder.