How Does a Digital Video Camera Work? Understanding the Technology Behind a Digital Video Camera

How Does a Digital Video Camera Work? Understanding the Technology Behind a Digital Video Camera
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Digital Video Cameras

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For casual users of digital video cameras, it’s just the same experience with analog video cameras in terms of operation. If you have had experience in using analog video cameras before, using a digital camera will not cause you any problems. However, if you’re asking “how does a digital video camera work?”, there are some additional bits of information you will have to know and understand.

Image Capture

The main difference between an analog video camera and a digital video camera is the way they capture images. Analog video cameras use film to capture light that is then translated to images. It uses the film itself as storage for the video data captured. Digital video cameras use microchips to record images. It then translates the captured images into computer pixels which is then stored in whatever media storage is available inside the digital video camera. Basically, there are two main components of a digital video camera. The camera, which is the image capturing component, and the recorder which is the component of the video camera that stores the captured video images.

The Camera

A digital video camera’s image capturing component is basically unchanged from earlier forms of video cameras. It is composed of a lens and a sensor that translates light into images. For better color quality of video images, some higher end digital video cameras use multiple sensors.

The Recorder

Whatever video image is captured by the camera, it is translated into computer pixels and is either stored on in-camera media like flash, miniDV tapes, external media storage devices or streamed directly onto output devices like computer monitors or TV screens. The saved data is called digital video and it becomes a piece of data that can be converted into computer video files so it can easily be copied, edited and moved to all sorts of storage media like CD or DVD, flash drives or computer hard disks or external hard drives. Some of the newer models of digital video camera have the ability to burn digital video straight into DVD discs.


Just like analog video cameras, digital video cameras can be operated with the basic controls record, play, pause, rewind and forward. Most digital video cameras are smaller than analog video cameras which makes handling them easier. The fuss of installing film in the video camera has been eliminated. In using a digital video camera, all you need is to power it on and push the record button. You can also preview your captured video images without processing any kind of film or media storage. If you don’t like what you see, you can immediately re-capture the video images of your subject again on the spot.

Analog or Digital?

Now that we’ve answered the question “how does a digital video camera work?”, it’s time to ask “which is better, analog video cameras or digital video cameras?” Well, in terms of being more compact and video image storage, digital video cameras win by a mile. In terms of quality, though, it depends on one’s own taste in video images.