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Image Capture 

During the image capture process, algorithms actually create some image data that in reality is not there. As light streams into the lens, the image data is interpolated (a technical term for "estimating") based on a best-guess scenario of the surrounding pixels.

In essence, nearby pixels are sampled, averaged, and then incorporated as new pixels in the overall image. This allows the camera to gather more digital information than is actually there. Hopefully this translates into better resolution.   

Unfortunately, interpolation is usually a hit-or-miss process --generally it is an adequate solution for adding detail, but sometimes it fails altogether, introducing unwanted "artifacts" (incorrect data).

Oddly enough, in addition to creating image data that doesn't really exist, the digital camera also deletes information that does exist. While this may seem counter-productive, there's actually a good reason for this to occur.

Until very recently, computer memory prices have been a primary controlling factor in the cost of digital devices.

Since cost determined the amount of memory space, a method of maximizing memory storage capacity needed to be devised (a high-resolution image requires millions of bytes of information to reproduce accurately).


This vast amount of data also created another problem: how do you transmit so much information over "slow" internet connections? The solution was compression.

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