We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How does a Digital Camera Work?

Michael Anissimov
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At EasyTechJunkie, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Instead of exposing a photosensitive chemical known as film to a scene to create an imprinted image, most digital cameras use a charge-coupled device (CCD), an electronics instrument that creates a pixel map based on the electric charge generated when photons slam into a sensitive material. This phenomenon is called the photoelectric effect, and was elucidated by Albert Einstein in a famous 1905 paper. Less frequently used than a CCD is a complementary-metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS).

The term CCD-based camera is sometimes used interchangeably with digital camera, because by its very nature the CCD-based camera takes pictures — photos with a certain pixel-by-pixel resolution that can be encoded digitally. These files can easily be transferred from a camera to many devices, including computers, screens, phones, and printers.

A charge-coupled device is an integrated circuit, meaning it uses multiple semiconductor elements on a unified platform to achieve its goals. The active components of a CCD-based camera are the capacitors. These are linked in a circuit, which is why they're called charge-coupled. A capacitor is a basic electronics device that stores a potential difference, or voltage, in the variance between two plates with equal but opposite electrical charges.

A lens projects the image onto the CCDs, and each capacitor acquires a charge proportional to the brightness of incoming light. CCDs are not inherently color-sensitive, and to take color photos, a Bayer mask must be used to selectively filter light into designated pixels based on color. Upon acquiring the charge, the capacitors begin passing their charge to adjacent capacitors in a charge-coupled, daisy-chain fashion. A register at the end of the array makes the appropriate measurements, and a 2D pixel map is created.

Because their sensitivity to light is about 35 times that of a conventional camera, approaching the quantum limit, digital cameras are often favored by event photographers and astrophotographers alike. Because of the lack of active chemical components, images do not need to be “developed” and are stored directly in the camera shortly after exposure.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Anissimov
By Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated EasyTechJunkie contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism to his articles. An avid blogger, Michael is deeply passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. His professional experience includes work with the Methuselah Foundation, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and Lifeboat Foundation, further showcasing his commitment to scientific advancement.
Discussion Comments
By BeatStanleys — On Jan 17, 2013

I miss using a film camera. I know there's still some stores that sell them. Right?

By julies — On May 24, 2012

I remember when digital cameras first became popular. I went out and bought the cheapest digital camera I could find because I was anxious to try this out, but didn't want to spend a lot of money.

There have been a lot of great changes to the quality of digital cameras over the years. You can still find cheap digital cameras that take decent pictures.

These are great for kids or for situations where you don't want to have to worry about an expensive camera.

Now I just use the digital camera with my iPhone to take most of my pictures. The quality and convenience can't be beat.

By andee — On May 23, 2012

We have an expensive film camera with some high powered lenses that sits in the closet and never gets used anymore.

We finally bought a nice digital camera where we could use the same lenses we had for the film camera.

We did a lot of digital camera comparisons before deciding on which one to buy. We were somewhat limited in our selection because we needed to stay with the same brand of camera.

Our original camera was a Canon camera, and we found many high quality digital Canon cameras. We find that we take a lot more pictures with the digital camera than we ever did before.

By myharley — On May 22, 2012
Even though digital cameras have been out for a long time now, one of my friends just recently began using one.

She loves to take pictures, but would use the wind-up disposable cameras all of the time. Her son finally bought her a Vivitar digital camera for Christmas.

She is slowly getting used to it, and I think she will quickly wonder why it took her so long to begin using a digital camera.

I know there is no way I want to go back to using a film camera. I have found the digital cameras to produce just as good of quality, are much cheaper, and easy to use.

By Mykol — On May 22, 2012

Even though I have never given much thought to how a digital camera works, I know they have saved me a lot of money.

I grew up using film cameras and remember paying for many pictures that were blank or not worth keeping. I felt like I was just throwing money away.

Not only did I have to buy the film, but also needed to pay for processing the pictures. On some of the older cameras, you also had to buy flash cubes as well.

With a digital camera, if you don't like the image, you can just delete it and start over. You can take as many pictures as you like and edit them later.

When I compare a digital camera to a film camera, the benefits far outweigh what I pay for in batteries for the camera.

By anon188906 — On Jun 21, 2011

An iPhone uses a digital camera.

By anon157865 — On Mar 04, 2011

after the picture in the back of the camera is inverted, how does it turn back straight?

By anon45681 — On Sep 19, 2009

What is the difference between how a digital camera and a film camera work?

By anon45617 — On Sep 18, 2009

they are different because the iphone has more better clear color.

By anon42807 — On Aug 24, 2009

what is the difference between an iphone photo and a digital camera photo?

By anon5027 — On Nov 09, 2007

What is the difference between how a digital camera and a film camera work?

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated EasyTechJunkie contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology,...
Learn more
EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.