Digital cameras are the future of photography. In fact, they’re also the present of photography, as only the most stubborn photographers still use film.

So what are the advantages of digital cameras over film models? How do they work? And how much do they cost? Find out in our essential guide.

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What is a digital camera?

A digital camera is a camera that uses digital technology instead of film to take photos.

Why is a digital camera better than a film camera?

Because it uses digital technology, you don’t need to develop your photos so there’s no need for a dark room or specialist equipment. You also don’t have to wait to see your photos – you can see them as soon as you’ve snapped just by looking at the screen on the back of the camera. Digital photos are easy to share with friends, as they can be emailed – sometimes straight from the camera if it has a wi-fi connection – or printed off as many times as you like at home without having to pay any extra.

You can edit digital photos using software on your computer too, so you can adjust the colours, brightness, and crop out anything that shouldn’t be there. You can also smooth over any blemishes, making you and your subjects look better.

Why do some digital cameras have GPS?

GPS stands for global positioning system. It’s a technology usually found in smartphones and some smartwatches, but some digital cameras have it too. It lets you pinpoint geographically where you took a certain photograph, which is handy for mapping your snaps. It also lets you organise your photos by location, so you can easily search for photos from Madeira, say, to quickly find your holiday snaps.

What types of digital camera are there?

Digital single lens reflex cameras (DSLRs for short) are bigger and bulkier than compact models. DSLRs let you change the lens, so you can switch the standard for a wide-angle or zoom lens, depending on the type of photo you’re taking. They’re also usually more expensive than compact cameras, hence they’re more suited to serious photographers.

How do digital cameras work?

Inside a digital camera is a complementary metal-oxide semiconductor, or CMOS for short. This is covered in tiny light-sensitive cells that measure the amount of light coming in. These cells do the job of old-fashioned camera film – they report back to the processor how much light falls on them. The camera uses this information to work out the colour of that individual pixel and those around it, and creates an image.

How much does a digital camera cost?

Some compact cameras are amazingly cheap – you can pick them up for under a tenner. But more serious snappers can set you back thousands. It all depends on what you want from a digital camera, and how serious you are about photography.

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