Digital Photography Vocabulary


Digital VS Film

Before comparing the advantages and disadvantages of digital and film photography, a basic explanation of each medium must be explored.

When a digital image is taken, a series of digits made up of ones and zeros are recorded as the image. Your computer displays this image as a grid, or rows of dots (or "pixels"). Each pixel contains a color. The amount of pixels determines the size of the image, both in screen size and file size. Sometimes digital images are called "bitmaps", “jpg”, “gif” or “pict” files.

An image taken using film is created by light passing through the lens and striking the film. The quality of the image depends on the type of film used, the shutter speed of the camera, and the amount of light entering the lens and reaching the film.

When comparing the advantages and disadvantages of digital vs. film photography, one must keep in mind the purpose of the photograph. There are certain things that film photography does well. On the other hand there are certain things that digital photography does well. Naturally, the reverse is also true for both mediums.

Several camera companies offer explanations of digital vs. film photography. One site that I’ve found to be very helpful is Digital vs. Film. At this site you will find advantages and disadvantages of traditional photography, advantages of digital photography, the difference between digital and film, great answers to questions about digital quality, and reasons for using digital photography.

Digital vs. Film Photography

Another article to visit is very user friendly. The writer does an outstanding job explaining in plain English the differences, pros, and cons of digital and film photography.

Digital vs. Film Cameras


Parts of a Digital Camera
Flash Shutter Button Zoom Controls Tripod Receptacle
Lens Flash Button Batteries LCD Screen
View Finder (?) Media Storage DC IN Outlet AV Connections

Power Switch






More About Storage

  • Storage is very important. You don't want to be involved in a wonderful project with your students and have to keep running to your desk to download pictures. I suggest purchasing the largest possible storage device for your camera.

Here's a chart showing the number of pictures possible from a storage source when the camera is set at its highest quality setting.

The amount of memory on the card
Maximum number of highest resolution images (best quality)



In all reality, you will seldomly use your camera at its highest setting. This setting creates a picture that is usually too large for anything done in a classroom.


Camera Settings

Here is where it is very important to read your camera's manual. Not all cameras have the same features or require the same settings.

  • Setting the Light Exposure - Speaking from personal experiences, this is an important feature when your outside spirit day assembly is held under the PE shelter and the sun is to the back of the stage area. Adjusting the exposure is also important when taking pictures of our African American students.
  • Setting the Image Size or Resolution - The image size or resolution settings on a camera should be set to match the purpose of the pictures. For example, a resolution of 600 x 1000 may be good for 3 x 5 photographs, but not good for 8 x 10 photographs.
Resolution Settings
Pixel Size
Megapixel Equivalent
Ideal Print Size
700 x 400 Less than one megapixel Wallet Size
600 x 1000 Less than one megapixel 3 x 5
800 x 1200 One megapixel 4 x 6
1600 x 2000 Three Megapixels 8 x 10
2200 x 3400 Six Megapixels 11 x 17
  • Red Eye - Setting the Red Eye feature causes the flash to strobe and reduce the red eye effect.
  • Flash - The Auto setting is usually best. Forced Flash flashes every picture regardless of the light around the subject. There is also a way to turn the flash off.


  1. Use your camera and practice using the settings. This is where having the manual handy will really help.

Shopping for a Digital Camera


I'll Take That One - Shopping for a Digital Camera

This is the fun part of the class. This section covers shopping. So, pull out those charge cards and let’s see what kind of damage we can cause.

There are so many options available when purchasing a digital camera. It is important to understand what features you need before starting your shopping. The first big question is knowing for what you are shooting. Are you shooting the grandchildren, holidays, birthday parties, and the school play? These all require a camera with about 2 - 4 megapixels. These cameras are often at the lower cost end of the shelf. Are you shooting in hopes of selling your pictures to “National Geographic”? For these pictures, you want all the quality you can get. A camera around 4-6 Megapixel, or even larger, will give you the quality of which “National Geographic” is looking. However, with the higher quality, comes a higher price. Be prepared to mortgage your house and give up your first-born.

Kodak offers a great site about digital photography. This course will visit this site frequently. I usually don’t like to suggest a site about shopping that was written by a company that sells that product. However, Kodak has done a very nice job with this site and it does merit a visit. Go to the Kodak site about “Choosing a Digital Camera”.

Another great site comes from This article addresses what to look for in a digital camera. "What to Look for in a Digital Camera"


  1. Storage - Smartmedia, Flash Card, Memory Stick, Floppy Disk
  2. Resolution - Can you set the camera for more or less pixels
  3. Optical vs Digital Zoom -Powerful optical is sometimes better that a digital
  4. Software - How will the pictures transfer from the camera to the computer? Does it use a Smartcard readers, Flashcard reader, USB cable, or Firewire cable to download to the camera?
  5. Batteries- Rechargeable vs Store


  1. Read Cyber Internet Learning Adventures
  2. Visit the All About Digital Website - Great Site from Kodak
  3. It's time for a Jenny Jones Digital Camera Makeover. Let's see how far that "A+" school money can go. Using the Internet, you are to go shopping for a new digital camera that will support instructional needs in your classroom environment. After you locate the perfect camera, create a Word document containing the following information.
    1. The entire URL address for the camera you found.
    2. If there is a picture of the camera on the Website, copy the picture from the site and paste it into our Word document.
    3. Make of the camera
    4. Model number of the camera
    5. How many megapixels is this camera?
    6. What type of storage does this camera use?
    7. How do you download the pictures from the camera to your computer?
    8. What resolution settings are available for this camera?
    9. What special features are available on this camera?
    10. Why do you feel this camera is the best choice for your classroom environment?
    By the way, you have a budget of $350.00 to find the perfect instructional camera. Shoppers, start your engines.



Putting the Pictures into the Computer

  • USB Cables
  • Firewire Cables
  • Card Readers
  • Floppy Disk Drives
  • CDs from Developers (Walgreens, Eckerds, etc.)



Use your camera to take 10-12 pictures. You may wish to take pictures of things that could be used to teach something in your subject area. These pictures will be used in tomorrow's class.