Thursday, April 21, 2005

Choosing A Digital Camera

Digital cameras offer excellent picture quality, easy online image sharing, immediate picture viewing, and the benefit of being able to download images directly to your computer. Best of all you can enjoy these benefits without the need for costly film and developing. In spite of the benefits of owning a digital camera, it can be very difficult to choose one for the first time. If you are new to digital photography, it is easy to feel lost in a sea of pixels and memory. Here are a few suggestions when choosing your first digital camera.

There are many different types of digital cameras available on the market today. One way to narrow the choices is to decide how much you can afford to spend and eliminate any cameras that cost above that amount.

Consider resolution. Resolution is the number of pixels used to capture an image. Digital camera resolution is often discussed in terms of megapixels. A megapixel is one million pixels. A higher amount of megapixels translates into a higher resolution. Higher resolution generally means better picture quality.

In many advertisements for digital cameras, resolution is emphasized so much that it seems to be the most important feature. While resolution is very important, it is not by itself a reason to choose a camera. There are many other important features to consider, such as zoom capability, speed, and memory.

Stop to think about why you are buying a camera. What type of pictures do you plan to capture? Are you planning to take photographs of Junior to send via e-mail to Grandma? If your images will be used primarily for sharing via e-mail, on the web, or printing small snapshots, a 2-3-megapixel camera will certainly do the job. If you are planning to print larger photos, such as 8” X10” or larger or need to manually adjust focus and exposure, then a 4 to 5 megapixel camera will most likely do the trick. If you plan to print larger, professional looking prints or need to control many image options manually, you will need a high performance camera with a minimum of 6 megapixels.

Choose a camera with a 100 percent glass lens. Glass lenses give sharper images and are not as likely to get scratched as plastic lenses. Be sure to get an optical zoom lens. Digital zoom makes images appear blurry.

Next you need to consider memory. Most digital cameras are sold with some type of small capacity media card. You will generally need to buy an additional media card because the card your camera comes with is very likely to hold only a few pictures at a time. Memory stick, Compact, and SmartMedia are three commonly used brands of memory cards. Memory cards are lightweight and can typically be purchased for around $60 to $70 for 128 MB.

Choose a camera that has an LCD screen. An LCD screen will allow you to view your images on your digital camera. This will save you from hooking the camera up to your computer, downloading your images, and opening your image file only to discover your shot did not turn out the way you expected. With an LCD screen you can view your image right away on the digital camera and retake the picture immediately if you need to.

Be sure to look for any additional options you might need for your digital camera, such as manual setting adjustment capability, sound, video capture, timer, and battery indicator. Read online reviews of digital cameras to get good advice about the various brands of digital cameras on the market today. Take your time choosing, learn all you can, and last, but not least, enjoy your entry into the world of digital photography.

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