A camera that uses an image sensor and a digital storage medium instead of film is called a digital camera. By converting light signals into electrical signals, the image is digitalised and can be digitally stored and processed. The photos can also be transferred to other digital devices using the corresponding digital interface. This enables you to save and edit your photos on a computer as well as archive them.
Many settings for image processing and picture quality can be automatically set on digital cameras. For example, the auto focus can automatically adjust the sharpness and the optical filter automatically takes care of the corresponding colour filter and colour mosaics, which are usually integrated into the image sensor.
The first milestone in the history of the digital camera was set by David Paul Gregg in 1963 with the invention of the “Videodisk.” This device was capable of storing images for only a couple of minutes electrically analogous on a videodisk and was thus the first camera capable of electronically storing photographic information.
Most digital cameras nowadays are also capable of recording video sequences. These, however, require a high image refresh rate, which usually causes the resolution to be much lower than in still images. The development of special video cameras that were based on their own technology, therefore, took place parallel to the development of the digital camera.
In subsequent years, the technical development of the first image sensors and light-sensitive chips progressed rapidly. The successful technical breakthrough came in 1969 when physicists Willard Boyle and George Smith created the charge-coupled device (CCD). This light-sensitive chip was originally developed as a storage medium and made it possible to store images for a brief period of time. It was first used in an electric analogue video camera in 1970 and is still one of the most common image sensors used today next to the CMOS sensor. Well-known companies like Canon, Kodak, and Olympus manufacture their cameras with CCD sensors.
In the early 1990’s, digital cameras were mainly used by professional photographers. An example of this can be found in newspaper journalism since digital photography made it possible to quickly transmit images.
Only near the end of the 90’s did digital cameras become more popular for personal use. The first mass-produced digital cameras for personal use were manufactured by Apple, Casio, Kodak, Sony, and Canon. The first DSLR camera was produced by Kyocera in 2002. Currently, there are a countless number of digital cameras available in all price ranges and configurations.
Due to the high speed of innovation in both computer technology and digital photography, the digital camera became an integral part of people’s lives. Sales of digital cameras for personal use especially took off. Due to rapidly falling prices, digital cameras have been producing much higher sales figures than analogue cameras since 2003. For this reason, most manufacturers have halted production of analogue cameras altogether.
Since 2000, digital cameras have been increasingly integrated into other devices. In the beginning, some modern phones were outfitted with a digital photo function. Nowadays, however, this function has become a standard and expected feature in all smartphones, tablets, and other digital devices.