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In broad terms the advantages of the digital approach to photography are fourfold. First, the images are stored electronically, as a series of numbers, and can therefore be manipulated on a computer. Any element of an image can be changed - colour, contrast, sharpness, size and even the pictorial content of the image. Second, the duplication process merely generates copies of the numbers that define images. There is consequently no inherent degradation and perfect copies are possible. Third, results are available almost instantly, and unwanted images can be erased from the reusable electronic storage media. Fourth, images can be processed and printed in a convenient daylight environment.

Older digital cameras were slow to respond when first switched on, and some models exhibited a long shutter lag (the delay between pressing the button and the moment of exposure), but, these difficulties have more or less been overcome. However, digital cameras still consume battery power at a fairly high rate, and resolution on cheaper models may fall short of what film can deliver. Much depends upon expectations and budget. A good quality digital camera and accessories together with a computer, image-manipulation software, storage devices and a photographic quality colour printer costs £3,000 - £4,000. Finally, there is a steep learning curve, particularly for those with little experience of personal computers and all the associated paraphernalia. The art of photography remains largely unchanged, but post-capture handling, manipulation and storage techniques are quite different.


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