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TECH TIP:   How to buy a Digital Camera
Here's a Quick Tip - to view the links in the article below in a new window, right click on the link and click on Open in New Window.  OR, you may be able to hold down the SHIFT key while clicking on the link to do the same (some pop-up blocking software prevents this option).

Thinking of buying a digital camera?  Here are the important considerations when buying a digital camera. 

1. Pixels:  Digital Pictures are made with pixels (dots).  The more the pixels (dots), the higher the resolution your picture will have.  So how many megapixels do I need?  Well, it depends what you are going to do with your pictures.  If you want to print large pictures (8x10 or larger), you need more pixels  (3.0 to 5.0).  If you want to print smaller pictures (3x5 to 5x7), you can get by nicely with 1.3 to 2.5 megapixels (See http://computer.howstuffworks.com/question570.htm).  The quality of the picture does not necessarily depend on how many pixels you have.  You can get good quality pictures with lesser megapixels – you just can’t print them large.

2. Batteries:  A big consideration is what kind of batteries your camera uses.  I would think carefully about buying a camera that uses a proprietary battery.  That is a battery that is made especially for that camera.  Proprietary batteries are very expensive to replace – especially down the road a couple years when the camera is no longer current (the battery prices skyrocket).  Try to find a camera that uses AA batteries.  And then buy rechargeable batteries and a cheap battery charger.

3. Storage:  Be sure to buy a camera that uses a removable memory card (there are at least 6 different memory cards these days - (see
 http://www.steves-digicams.com/flash_memory.html).  Your camera will probably come with an 8MB card which will not store a lot of pictures on it.   So you need to plan to purchase a larger card – a 32 to 64 MB card,  so that you don’t run out of memory half way through your vacation.

4. Downloading Pictures:  Many cameras do not require installing any software to download your pictures to your computer.  You just plug the cable into your camera and computer and an icon appears on your computer screen.  Then just drag pictures from the camera (icon) to your desktop.  What could be easier?  If you do buy a camera that requires software, be sure the software is user friendly, and is compatible with your computer system.  Also be sure your computer has the right plug-in port for the cable (most cameras today use a USB port).

5. Features:  Cameras come with a variety of features.  Some features are:  an LCD Viewer, an important feature; Digital or Optical Zoom lens – try to get at least a 3:1 optical zoom lens (a digital zoom lens is less desirable); lens settings and the ability to focus the lens, the ability to make short Mpeg Movies – fun but not very useful;  a macro lens for close-up shots – a good feature;  a timer – nice if you want to get everyone in the picture.  Get as many features as you can afford.

6. Brand and Price:  There are many good brands and prices fluctuate from vender to vender.  The best source to begin your shopping is PriceGrabber.com (http://pricegrabber.com) -  you can compare prices and get ratings on the venders.  You can also read reviews on the product – weaknesses, strengths and summary statements.  Do your research – you’ll be glad you did!

7. LINKS
To read more on how to buy a digital camera visit this site at PC World (there are 4 pages to the article):  http://www.pcworld.com/howto/bguide/0,guid,12,page,2,00.asp

PhotoNet also has a fine article:  Digital Cameras, A Beginners Guide:
http://www.photo.net/equipment/digital/cameras/basics/

Digital Camera Buyers Guide - and excellent article (2 pages)
http://www.bigskyfishing.com/Gear-Technique/digital_camera/digital_camera_shopping.htm

 

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