Many designs, shapes and sizes of camera are available on the market. Although they all share certain similarities in purpose and basic function, they are also vastly different in technology and application. The purpose of any camera is to record visual images. These images can be in the form of photographs, movie film or video signals, depending on the type of camera being used.
Prior to the development of digital technology, all photography cameras operated using film. A basic point-and-shoot film camera consists of a lightproof chamber, a lens, a shutter and a roll of film. The chamber has a hole in it called an aperture. The lens and shutter are fitted to this hole and project the image of the object or scene being photographed onto the recording surface of the film. The film is then removed from the camera and developed to generate a displayable photograph.
A digital camera is also used for the purpose of recording visual images, but unlike a traditional camera, it stores the images it captures digitally without the need for film. This digital data can then be downloaded from the camera into a computer program that allows the user to edit the image before it is finalized and printed. The disadvantage of digital photography is that even a high-resolution digital camera is unable to produce film-quality photographs.
A camcorder (or camera recorder) performs a slightly different function than photography cameras do. A camcorder is a video camera, meaning that it records moving images as opposed to still ones. Most camcorders have a microphone that allows them to record sound as well. Camcorders are often used for recording events where motion plays an important role, such as a sporting event or a child's first steps. Unlike some other video cameras, such as television cameras, camcorders record video directly to a tape, DVD or memory card where it is stored to be edited or played back later.
Television cameras are similar to self-contained video cameras like camcorders, but they serve a different purpose. Television cameras are used to record and broadcast live television. This is done through the use of a special set of equipment that scans the optical images captured by the camera and converts them into video signals suitable for broadcast. Without this technology, all television programs would have to be recorded, converted and broadcast at different times. This would make viewing live television impossible.