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factfile3.4 Digital Cameras 1 : Compact


Fixed Lens Digital Cameras

It is important to have some understanding of the basic difference between the two main camera types:
fixed lens and single-lens reflex.

Your digital camera is probably a compact camera, which is also sometimes known as a fixed lens camera because the lens cannot be removed. They are also commonly called point-and-shoots or p/s cameras.

compact camera

Digital fixed lens cameras have continuous viewing via a Liquid Crystal Display screen (LCD) at the rear of the camera, but, like traditional compact film cameras, most models also have simple optical viewfinders. The optical path from object through the lens to the sensor runs parallel to the path from object to the viewfinder, so what you see is not exactly what you get. This is called "parallax error". It explains why heads or feet are sometimes missing from your photos when you thought you'd framed them carefully.

The LCD gives more accurate framing for digital cameras than the viewfinder. Digital compacts have a smallimage sensor or CCD (Charge-Coupled Device – see the section on scanners). Most point-and-shoots have built in flash, while higher-end models also have auto-focus, red-eye reduction with a pre-flash system and zoom lenses. Some may also have the facility to take movie clips. Fixed lens cameras may be altered through the use of add-on converters for the lens, such as telephoto or wide angle, though these tend to give inferior image quality.

Another disadvantage is that compacts have a significant delay, called shutter lag, between the time of releasing the shutter button and capturing the image, and a further delay while processing and storing the data, which makes them unsuitable for action and sports photography. They also have a limited effectiveness in low light situations. Many p/s cameras are small and lightweight for convenience, but there are also medium and large models on the market, so size is not an indicator of camera type.

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