Digital camera

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“It's always scientists who discover this kind of stuff. ”

~ Sam Hughes on Digital Extremities[1]


A typical digital camera. Metatarsals not shown.

Abbrev: Digicam

A type of camera specifically designed for the photography of digits.

Digits in this instance could refer to metacarpals, but in practice will almost always refer to metatarsals.


A digicam is a camera specifically designed for the photography of human extremities. Although it can be used for almost any other photographic purpose, this function is its primary design constraint.


A digital camera will typically contain all or most of the following components:

A CCD (charge-coupled device) image sensor, the purpose of which is to introduce pixellation into the image, a feature not possible with film.

A lens. This will most likely be a 'Zoom' variety that allows you to compete on equal terms with the Hubble Telescope in terms of magnification, but with a maximum aperture of F/238, thus requiring the use of a small nuclear device for illumination of the subject.

A microprocessor. Generally a very slow one.

A nonvolatile memory device, for example an SD card.

A Lithium battery. This is always specially designed to fit ONLY this one model of camera, and to be available nowhere.

A set of control buttons, each of which does 387 different things. At random.

A hi-tech looking case. Mostly plastic painted to look like metal.

A fancy logo.

A display. This always shows you a perfect rendition of your subject, which bears no relation whatsoever to the end result.

Also accompanying the camera will be a software CD. This CD is totally unnecessary. Its sole purpose is to put annoying advertising and popups onto your computer.

Design Principles[edit]

Around the start of the 21st Century, it was realised that the standard camera of that time was not well-suited to the purpose of digital photography. Cameras of that era consisted of a box containing light-sensitive film. On the front of this box was lens, adjusted by the user to focus the image on the film, and a shutter, with which the user determined the precise moment at which the snap was taken. This, in fact, was the key weakness of this type of camera, that the delay between the button-press and the shutter operating was not only extremely short, but also far too predictable.

Retifists therefore set-out to design a camera more suited-to their specific purposes. An obvious but relatively unimportant difference of the new design is that instead of film the digital camera uses an electronic sensor to capture the image. The key difference though, -and the master-stroke in the design concept- is the introduction of a microprocessor into the control-linkage between button and shutter.

Within this microprocesor resides what is known as 'firmware' -Programming instructions written in COBOL, WordBasic or a similar computer language. The purpose of this 'firmware' is to introduce a random amount of delay between the button being pressed, and the shutter being fired.

More sophisticated models may also run the focus of the lens through its range, back and forth, during this delay, to give the impression that 'something is happening' instead of the camera looking like it's broke. This feature is known technically as 'Aut... Oh, fck-SSSSS!' and greatly enhances upon the basic model's randomicity of the shutter's timing.


For film photography, the light provided by a typical G-class star at a distance of one astronomical unit would typically suffice, obviating the need for the photographer to carry a supplemental light-source such as a flashgun. The development of ultra-zoom 3km focal-length lenses with apertures as small as f1/5.6x10^3 on the latest digital cameras has however demanded that for good results the photographer should provide a stronger light-source than any already present in our local cluster.

Therefore, the latest digital cameras with mega-zoom lenses will typically also carry an interface bracket for a magnesium-flare attachment not unlike that used with Victorian plate-cameras. Care should be exercised when employing this additional light source, inasmuch as the subject should be positioned at least 25m away from the camera, or red-eye may result. This red-eye may be extremely painful, not unlike that which results from performing welding work without adequate eye protection. The attachment should also be positioned well away from any curtains or other inflammable items of furnishing.

Note: The use of a lithium battery in recent models has eliminated the need for a separate light source.


To the typical photographer, this enhanced design of camera might seem a very poor tool. Take a photo at a party and everyone has started to leer by the time it fires. Try to snap a racecar and you might just win a prize for your still-life entitled 'Empty Road.'

Yet- to the person who understands its purpose, the digicam is truly a revelation in user-friendliness. Spot a person whose toes are photogenic, frame-up your subject in the viewfinder for a head-and-shoulders shot -for which they will no doubt oblige by posing- and press the shutter-release button. Now press the button again. And again, this time really hard. At the same time, shake the camera around a bit as if trying to persuade it to work. Have no fear, it is quite OK to do this, since if the digital camera is well-designed, no amount of button-pressing or shaking will cause it to fire prematurely. Now mutter something apologetic about how useless this new camera of yours is, and lower it. SNAP! as soon as it points at the ground, an inbuilt gravity sensor will cause it to automatically fire. Bingo, you have acquired a photo of this person's feet, and what's more without raising the slightest suspicion that this is what you were intending all along.

See Also[edit]

Camera Recovery

Camera Repair