The Optical System In Digital Cameras

May 12, 2010

At the heart of every digital camera, no matter how it stores its images, is an optical system. Most digital cameras have two distinct viewfinders — an optical one and a digital one. In most cases, the optical viewfinder is composed of a glass or plastic lens that shows you your subject directly — it’s just a plain window that lets you see through the camera to the other side. The digital viewfinder is an LCD (that’s a liquid crystal display) that reproduces what the cameras CCD’s are actually seeing. CCD’s is abbreviation for charged coupled devices.

Which one should you use? The simple answer is whichever one you like. You will get better results, though, if you understand the difference between them. The majority of digital cameras today are point and shoots. With a point-and-shoot camera, you do not actually see what the camera sees when you look through the optical viewfinder. The optical viewfinder is a parallax-inducing viewfinder, a popular low-cost mechanism that dates back almost all the way to the invention of the camera itself. No doubt you have a point-and-shoot camera lying around the house somewhere with just such a viewfinder.

When taking pictures from a distance, the optical viewfinder and lens see essentially the same thing. Close-up to your subject, however, they clearly see two different things. The concept of parallax — and what it means to your photograph — will be discussed in detail later.

The digital viewfinder, on the other hand, shows you exactly what the camera sees, and therefore is the most accurate gauge of your potential photograph. You will not want to use your digital viewfinder all of the time. To begin with, it uses up a lot of battery power, and you can get a lot more images out of your camera’s batteries by using the optical viewfinder instead. Not only that, the liquid crystal display can be very difficult to see in certain lighting conditions, like outdoors or in the afternoon.

Which viewfinder you choose to use is entirely up to you. But it is helpful to understand the differences between the two so that you can make an informed choice when photographing your children.

Remember, keep taking lots and lots of photographs of your kids. You will be glad you did!
BettySignature

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

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One Response to “The Optical System In Digital Cameras”

  1. Tweets that mention Understand The Optical System In Digital Cameras | Real Kids Photography -- Topsy.com on May 12th, 2010 5:57 am

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Betty A. Muscott. Betty A. Muscott said: The Optical System In Digital Cameras: At the heart of every digital camera, no matter how it stores its images, i… http://bit.ly/9UGNcW [...]

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