What is Digital Photography? | Definition, Tips, and Examples

In this glossary definition, we’ll be discussing digital photography.

In this all-new guide you’ll learn about:

Let’s dive in.

digital photography


Living in a digital world, we are getting used to everything becoming digital. The ways of life have changed along with the growth of technology.

Now we communicate, shop, and even work digitally. In this area, photography is one of the things that has changed as well.

Before the days of social media and internet life, photography already went digital.

To be exact, the first digital camera was made in 1975. Kodak engineer Steve Sasson created the first-ever digital camera using leftover parts and kits from around the Kodak factory.

The camera was able to take a single image in 23 seconds. That was the beginning of the history of digital photography that changed the whole photographic world.

digital camera
Photo by Jessica Lewis

What is Digital Photography?

The digital photography is defined as a form of photography that uses electronic photodetectors to form an image.

The images are stored digitally as computer files ready for digital processing.

The most significant difference between digital photography and traditional photography is the use of electronics to capture and store the image rather than film.

digital photography camera
Photo by Sameer Kalani

What is The Purpose of Digital Photography?

Now that we know what digital photography is all about let us talk about the purpose of digital photography.

Digital photography has pretty much the same purpose as film photography.

For many people, the ability to capture life’s important moments is the primary reason for taking photographs.

The invention of photography also makes it possible for people to see public figures as realistically as they can be, far better than paintings.

Nowadays, photography serves so many purposes. Whether for professional purposes or personal purposes.

The most common purposes of photography can be described based on the types of photography as follows:

1. Commercial Photography

Commercial photography is often taken to be used as advertising material.

Commercial photography is usually used to promote or sell products.

Professional photographers are hired to take photos of the products.

Later, the photos are used as campaign materials such as brochures, pamphlets, billboards, and other types of advertising campaigns.

commercial photograph
Photo by Alexandr Podvalny

2. Documentary Photography

Just as it sounds, documentary photography is primarily focused on documenting life moments and events.

The moments captured may vary from personal events like weddings and birthdays to moments such as political events or festivals.

The purpose is to capture the moment so it will not just fade away.

We can thank the documentary photographers of the past for capturing some of the most important moments in modern history.

documentary photograph
Photo by Sankalpa Joshi

3. Journalism Photography

Journalism photography has almost the same purpose as documentary photography.

The difference between the two is documentary photography is usually taken to document moments, while journalism photography has another purpose, which is to deliver the news.

That’s why journalism photography must answer the what, when, where, who, why, and how’s.

The goal of journalism photography is to make people understand what happened at that moment in relation to the news.

Journalism photography can complete a story or article, but it should be able to stand on its own too.

4. Editorial Photography

Editorial photography is usually used for publications such as magazines.

It may include fashion and products and events, but it focuses on the story.

It’s the difference between editorial photography and product photography or commercial photography.

Editorial photography is not created to just sell products, but more to tell stories and for more educational and informative purposes.

editorial photo
Photo by cottonbro

5. Art Photography

Art photography is a form of photography used by artists to show ideas, concepts, messages, and emotions through a picture.

It’s the same as other forms of art, but the artist uses photographs as their media.

Art photography can vary significantly depending on the artist. As a form of art, this kind of photography can also have genres such as abstract, conceptual, portraits, black and white, and many more.

Along with the growth of digital photo manipulation, art photography has entered a new phase of possibilities.

art photograph
Photo by Tim Grundtner

Advantages and Disadvantages of Digital Photography

To answer the question “What is digital photography” we should also explore the advantages and disadvantages of digital photography.

Why are digital cameras far more popular than film cameras? Are they better or do they have some negative aspects too?

Advantages of Digital Photography

These are some of the most common advantages of digital photography:

1. No Film Needed

With the images captured digitally, it means you do not have to purchase single-use photo films and don’t have to go through the process of film processing that can take time.

With digital photography, you can save both time and money.

2. Larger Storage

While the manual camera has limited storage depending on the length of the film roll, digital cameras have much larger storage.

It is easier for photographers to just go with their camera and memory card, and not have to carry rolls and rolls of film that can be bulky and heavy.

3. Preview Screen

With a digital camera, you can review the photograph right away after you take the picture.

If you don’t like it, you can just delete it to save some space for better shots. In comparison, film cameras require you to wait until the film is processed just to see the result.

4. Environmentally Friendly

Everything is processed digitally, which means we don’t have to waste chemicals to process the image, and we don’t have to worry about recycling the film plastic container.

5. Advanced Features

Digital cameras are completed with features such as face detection and motion detection to help us avoid getting blurry images.

They have other features too, such as Bluetooth, wi-fi, and even the capability to record video.

Disadvantages of Digital Photography

Now that we know the advantages of digital photography, let’s talk about the disadvantages of digital photography:

1. Storage Problems

Digital cameras store the images in the memory card.

Sometimes, the memory card can get corrupted, and all of the data can be lost completely.

2. Price

High-end digital cameras can be more expensive compared to film cameras.

3. Battery Consumption

Digital cameras consume more battery than film cameras.

We may need some extra batteries in hand, especially when we need to perform a long-time outdoor photoshoot.

4. Image Resolution

Images produced by a digital camera can be used as digital purposes just fine.

But when it comes to prints, some film cameras still win on the resolution and quality front.

5. Dynamic Range

Film cameras have a better dynamic range than digital cameras.

This means the film camera can capture a wider range of tonal qualities.

With this capability, film cameras can avoid overexposure of highlights, which quite often happen with digital cameras.

6. Shutter Lag

Digital cameras sometimes have problems with shutter lag.

This creates a delay in time from when you press the button and the time when the images are captured.

This can make the photo that is captured vary from the way that you wanted it to be.

What is the Difference Between Photography and Digital Photography

The main tool used in photography is the camera. So, the main difference between photography and digital photography is the camera used.

Traditional film photography makes use of a film camera that uses light-sensitive films to capture the image.

The chemical layer on the surface of the film reacts as the light strikes and records the image. While digital cameras use optical sensors to capture the image.

Unlike photo films, these sensors can be used and re-used an unlimited amount of times without replacement.

Differences also exist from an image processing perspective. In a film camera, we can only see the result after the images are fully developed.

While in a digital camera, we can see the results right away and start processing them at once.

creative photographer
Photo by Andre Furtado

What are the Two Main Types of Digital Photography?

When we talk about digital photography, we mostly talk about the digital camera.

Now, what are the two main types of digital photography/ digital camera?

Digital photography can be divided into two main types as follow:

Digital Consumer Camera

Digital consumer cameras are usually marketed as all-in-one devices completed with some features to attract the regular consumer. There are two types of consumer camera:

Compact Camera

Created mainly for functionality and practicality. They are compact and lightweight, so you can always bring them with you.

They usually have lower image quality and have a very basic user control.

This kind of camera can be used even by an amateur with no photography knowledge, so it is perfect for those who only want to capture moments without wanting to get more technical.

High-End Consumer Camera

This camera has more user control but is still limited compared to the pro cameras.

This camera is perfect for those who want to learn a little bit more and want to have more control over their camera.

Digital Prosumer Camera

The prosumer camera is a term used to describe a professional-quality camera but sold at a consumer price.

These cameras have more user control, interchangeable lenses, and other features required for professional usage.

If you want to get deeper into photography, you may consider buying this type of camera.

Concluding Remarks

That is everything you need to know about starting out in digital photography and what is digital photography.

We have discussed the types, the purposes, and the advantages and disadvantages of digital photography.

Hopefully, the merits of digital photography will have convinced you. So, now you are ready to start your photographic journey.

Now I want to hear from you!

If you found any of these tips/techniques to be helpful, or you have a tip that works for you —

be sure to let me know by leaving a comment down below!

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