Tapes of digital cameras

A digital camera is an electronic device used to capture and store photographs digitally, instead of using photographic film like conventional cameras, or recording images in an analog format to magnetic tape like many video cameras. Modern compact digital cameras are typically multifunctional, with some devices capable of recording sound and/or video as well as photographs. In the Western market, digital cameras now outsell their 35 mm film counterparts.

Digital cameras can be classified into several categories:

Video cameras

Video cameras are classified as devices whose main purpose is to record moving images.

  • Professional video cameras such as those used in television and movie production. These typically have multiple image sensors (one per color) to enhance resolution and color gamut. Professional video cameras usually do not have a built-in VCR or microphone.
  • Camcorders used by amateurs. They generally include a microphone to record sound, and feature a small liquid crystal display to watch the video during taping and playback.
  • Webcams are digital cameras attached to computers, used for video conferencing or other purposes. Webcams can capture full-motion video as well, and some models include microphones or zoom ability.
Live-preview digital cameras

The term digital still camera (DSC) most commonly refers to the class of live-preview digital cameras, cameras that use an electronic screen as the principal means of framing and previewing before taking the photograph. All use either a charge-coupled device (CCD) or a CMOS image sensor to sense the light intensities across the focal plane.

Many modern live-preview cameras have a movie mode, and a growing number of camcorders can take still photographs. However, even a low-end live-preview camera can take better still pictures than a mid-range video camera, and mid-range live-preview cameras have much lower video quality than low-end video cameras; that is, products are not generally optimized for both still and video photography, due to their different requirements.

Compact digital cameras

Also called digicams, this encompasses most digital cameras. They are characterized by great ease in operation and easy focusing; this design allows for limited motion picture capability. They tend to have significantly smaller zooms than bridge and DSLR cameras. They have an extended depth of field. This allows objects at a larger range of depths to be in focus, which accounts for much of their ease of use. They excel in landscape photography and casual use. They typically save pictures in only the JPEG file format. All but the cheapest models have a built-in flash, although its guide number tends to be very low, perhaps just 6 or 8.

Bridge cameras

or SLR-like cameras form a general group of higher-end live-preview cameras that physically resemble DSLRs and share with these some advanced features, but share with compacts the live-preview design and small sensor sizes.

Bridge cameras tend to have superzoom lenses, which compromises – in varying degrees, depending on the quality of the zoom lens – a "do it all" ability with barrel distortion and pincushioning. These cameras are sometimes marketed as and confused with digital SLR cameras since the bodies resemble each other. The distinguishing characteristics are that bridge cameras lack the mirror and reflex system of DSLRs, have so far been always produced with only one single sealed (non-interchangeable) lens (but accessory wide angle or telephoto converters can be attached to the front of the sealed lens), can usually take movies, record audio and the scene composition is done with either the liquid crystal display or the electronic viewfinder (EVF). The overall performance tends to be slower than a true digital SLR, but they are capable of very good image quality while being more compact and lighter than DSLRs. The high-end models of this type have comparable resolutions to low and mid-range DSLRs. Many of the these cameras can save in JPEG or RAW format. The majority have a built-in flash, often a unit which flips up over the lens. The guide number tends to be between 11 and 15.

Digital single lens reflex cameras

Digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) are digital cameras based on film single-lens reflex cameras (SLRs), both types are characterized by the existence of a mirror and reflex system. See the main article on DSLRs for a detailed treatment of this category.

Digital rangefinders

A rangefinder is a focusing mechanism once widely used on film cameras, but much less common in digital cameras. The term rangefinder alone is often used to mean a rangefinder camera, that is, a camera equipped with a rangefinder.

Professional modular digital camera systems

This categoryincludes very high end professional equipment that can be assembled from modular components (winders, grips, lenses, etc.) to suit particular purposes. Common makes include Hasselblad and Mamiya. They were developed for medium or large format film sizes, as these captured greater detail and could be enlarged more than 35mm.

Typically these cameras are used in studios for commercial production; being bulky and awkward to carry they are rarely used in action or nature photography. They can often be converted into either film or digital use by changing out the back part of the unit, hence the use of terms such as a "digital back" or "film back." These cameras are very expensive (up to $40,000) and are typically not seen in the hands of consumers.

Line-scan camera systems

A line-scan camera is a camera device containing a line-scan image sensor chip, and a focusing mechanism. These cameras are almost solely used in industrial settings to capture an image of a constant stream of moving material. Unlike video cameras, line-scan cameras use a single array of pixel sensors, instead of a matrix of them. Data coming from the line-scan camera has a frequency, where the camera scans a line, waits, and repeats. The data coming from the line-scan camera is commonly processed by a computer, to collect the one-dimensional line data and to create a two-dimensional image. The collected two-dimensional image data is then processed by image-processing methods for industrial purposes.

Line-scan technology is capable of capturing data extremely fast, and at very high image resolutions. Usually under these conditions, resulting collected image data can quickly exceed 100MB in a fraction of a second. Line-scan-camera–based integrated systems, therefore are usually designed to streamline the camera's output in order to meet the system's objective, using computer technology which is also affordable.

Line-scan cameras intended for the parcel handling industry can integrate adaptive focusing mechanisms to scan 6 sides of any rectangular parcel in focus, regardless of angle, and size. The resulting 2-D captured images could contain, but are not limited to: 1D and 2D barcodes, address information, and any pattern that can be processed via image processing methods. Since the images are 2-D, they are also human-readable and can be viewable on a computer screen. Advanced integrated systems include video coding and optical character recognition (OCR).