Photography contests are organized by special institutions, colleges, clubs, not to mentions that bigger or smaller competitions can be found even on the Internet; these are the promoters for the constant developing in photography. The invention of the digital camera represented a revolution in the photo industry, it marked the beginning of a new era for all photographers. Theoretically the only pure difference between a classical and a digital camera is the stocking medium. A classical device uses a film while digital alternatives use various memory cards.
Most of the tricks a digital camera offers could be done before by a professional using a classical device. The big advantage brought by technological development is that everybody can now do those tricks, you don't have to be a photography professor to get sharp and clear images because the camera will do the hard job for you. In photography contests anyone is welcome, from people who have been in the business for ten years as well as amateurs who bring their latest photos.
It's no doubt that a smart camera can't substitute a talented artist but it can definitely help a beginner to take decent pictures. Not all digital cameras are fully automatized there are still those who offer almost the same controls as the classical one does. These cameras are used only by those few true artists of photography, it would be like a joke to show up at photography contests with some fancy new device that can make a sharp picture in motion but comes with an optical zoom of 4x.
Another difference between classical and digital cameras is that the modern items need a much larger power supply for their new components like the LCD. Though in photography contests the autonomy of the camera is not discussed it is essential for any photograph to be able to take pictures as long a time as possible. Another detail when speaking about digital cameras is the picture format, as the format is the way the camera stores the photo on a storing card. Formats differ in the amount of space they occupy as well as in quality.
A good advice when trying to win photography contests is to always be natural, don't try to copy somebody's techniques. Try developing your own distinctive methods of taking pictures. Another suggestion is to focus on the contest theme, if it is about nature don't go with a picture of your son just because you are proud of him. If you try to impress the jury with pictures that are not related to the contest idea you won't have the slightest chance to win.