Digital Camera File Formats

May 7, 2010

If you have ever shopped for a camera before you know that every retailer touts the number of pixels the camera has as one of the main features of the camera. And, if you read the post yesterday, you know not all pixels are equal.

In the case of a compact digital camera the image sensor is quite small, so if it is a camera with 10 megapixel resolution and you compare it to a digital single lens reflex camera with 10 megapixel resolution, you might come away with the impression that the cameras are similar and then focus on price.

The truth is they are not comparable. The image sensor in the compact digital camera is many times smaller than the image sensor in the digital single lens reflex camera. This makes a big difference. Why?

Well, if you want to print enlargements of a particularly great shot to hang on your wall, or to make a poster of, you will quickly find that as the image from the compact camera is blown up the quality of the image goes down. This is due to the fact that the pixels are much smaller for a compact digital camera than for a DSLR camera.

But there is another, and perhaps more important, difference between the two camera types. Most compact digital cameras produce their output in the jpg or jpeg file format, while DSLR cameras can out but images in another format known as RAW. Why is this important?

Well, the advantages of a raw image is that, to start with, it is much larger. Second, you can actually make some corrections of the image, much like we did with dodging and burning on film. Further, with the proper software, like PhotoShop, you can actually modify the photograph.

Recently I took some photographs of some kids who were pumping water from an old-time well pump. For some reason the best photos of the kids were when no water was running out of the pump, and I really wanted to show them pumping water out.

So I looked through my shots, found some with water coming from the well pump, and placed the water on the photograph with the kids doing the pumping. It turned out great, and I just recently had it printed on canvas to display in my studio.

There are many considerations to be made when picking a camera, and if you are really interested in photography you will need more than one camera. You will need a compact camera like the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1 Digital Camera to go along with a high quality DSLR camera like the Canon Digital Rebel(Black)
for when you have more time and can spend some effort to get just the right photograph you want.

Until next time keep your lenses focused!

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

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One Response to “Digital Camera File Formats”

  1. Tweets that mention Are Digital Camera File Formats Important, And If So Why? | Real Kids Photography -- Topsy.com on May 8th, 2010 9:22 am

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Betty A. Muscott. Betty A. Muscott said: Digital Camera File Formats: If you have ever shopped for a camera before you know that every retailer touts the n… http://bit.ly/d4LZQy [...]

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