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Photography Enters The Computer Age

Like many other things, photography has been deeply affected by computers. Photographs now can be taken by cameras that do not even use film. Instead they use electronic sensors to measure light intensities and translate them into digital code that can be read by a computer. The computer translates the digital code into a grid of points, each assigned a number that represents a color (or level of gray for black-and-white photos). The process is similar to the way in which music is translated into digital form when it is put on a compact disc.

Once digitized, images can be manipulated by computers in many of the same ways they can be changed while making prints in a darkroom. But because digital images are essentially a series of numbers, they can be manipulated in other ways as well. For publishing purposes, digital images can be converted to halftones by the computer, making the process easier and faster. As a result, many newspapers, magazines and advertising firms have switched to digital photography for increasing amounts of their work.



London, Barbara, and John Upton. Photography. 5th ed. New York: Harper Collins College Publishers, 1994.

Szarkowski, John. Photography Until Now. The Museum of Modern Art, New York: 1989.

Turner, Peter. History of Photography. New York: Exeter Books, 1987.

Scott M. Lewis


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—The size of the opening in a camera lens through which light comes.

Camera obscura

—A dark room or box with a lightadmitting hole that projects an image of the scene outside.


—Images with tonal values reversed, so that objects appear dark. Usually negatives are film from which positive prints are made.


—A process through which the continuous tones of a photograph are converted into black and white dots that can be reproduced on a printing press.

Single lens reflex camera

—A camera that uses a single lens and a mirror to admit light for the film and for the photographer to use to focus on.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Philosophy of Mind - Early Ideas to Planck lengthPhotography - The Origins Of Photography, Early Photographic Processes, The Evolution Of Cameras, Early Uses Of Photography