How Does a Digital Camera Work?

<img src="camera.jpg" alt="A white Sony Cybershot digital camera">

Before we start with how a camera works, let’s first take a peek inside a digital camera.


  1. Aperture – This part opens each time you press the button to take a photo. It controls the amount of light that will flow in through the lens then closes after you take a shot.
  2. Battery – This gives life to your camera.
  3. Battery compartment – This is where the batteries (can be one or two) are placed.
  4. Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) or Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) technology – Located under the lens, both of them have the same goal: to convert light into electrons. CMOS sensors are newer and cheaper to manufacture than CCD sensors.
  5. Flash Capacitor – This charges up for a few seconds to gather sufficient energy to make a flash.
  6. Flash Lamp – The capacitor operates this and this is where the flash is released.
  7. Focusing mechanism – This is responsible for the taking of distant and close-up shots.
  8. LED (light-emitting diode) – This tells you if the self-timer is working, making it easier for you to take pictures of yourself or your friends. Hate self-timers? We suggest you read this article to find out how to take photos of yourself and others without using your arms or the self-timer!
  9. LCD – Placed at the back of the electronic circuit board, this displays the photos you’ve taken.
  10. Lens – This is responsible for catching the light from the subject of your photo. The lens focuses the light on the CCD. There are different types of lenses. Determine what’s best for the job here.
  11. Processor chip – This is the brain of your camera. It controls all the functions of the camera.
  12. SD (secure digital) card slot – This is where the SD card is placed, which is responsible for storing more photos.


To make it easier to understand, let’s start with the sensor of the camera. This is covered with microscopic light sensitive cells, which are responsible for the amount of light that will pass through the lens. The cells are similar to the old photosensitive film, which reacts to the light that falls on them. The light will then hit the image sensor chip which breaks it into millions of pixels. The cells inform the microprocessor brain of the camera, which will make the sensor measure the color and brightness of the pixels individually. But it doesn’t stop there. In order to get the real color of every pixel, the sensor will also look at the pixels around it and make an informed guess.

Reading the description might sound confusing, especially if you have no background in photography. Good thing this video below can explain everything better with illustrations! Watch this:

Digital cameras have been compared to smartphone cameras nowadays. Some say digital cameras still rule because they produce higher quality photos, while others claim smartphone cameras are better because of the portability that comes with them. Do you want to know which one is really better? Find out here.