Sunday, July 03, 2005

Mega Zoom Digital Cameras

by Christina VanGinkel

In my continued search for a new digital camcorder, I have also started looking at new digital point and shoot cameras. What have attracted my attention are the advertisements I have come across in recent days for digital cameras that are considered mega zoom. I am a big fan of optical zoom lenses. The problem with the majority of digital cameras, including the one I currently own, a Sony Mavica, only top out their optical zoom lens at a mere three or four. They then rely on the digital zoom factor as a selling point. The problem with the digital zoom is that it is nothing more than a cropping feature. In reality, it does not bring the subject any closer; it just crops away the surrounding items, leaving what you were trying to zoom in on as the central focus of the picture.

I have come across three cameras in recent days offering an optical zoom of between ten and twelve, very unheard of in a digital point and shoot just a year or so ago. They are the Kodak Easy Share Z7590 Zoom Digital Camera, the Konica - Minolta DiMAGE Z5, and the Canon Power Shot S2 IS. The Kodak offers a mega zoom of ten and the other two each offer a whopping twelve optical zoom. I would be thrilled to have such an incredible zoom factor for many things, including snapping pictures of my son on the football field. Two years ago, even though I had a relatively new camera, we ended up paying $45.00 for three snapshots of him out on the field at an important dome game, because they were close-ups of him in action. I had been able to photograph him on the field, but none came close to the close-ups the professional photographer in attendance was offering.

While these cameras I was considering would still not zoom in as close as the pros camera would, they would come close enough that I would not be tempted to pay that price again for three photos that would have cost me less than a dollar a piece to print at home or even at the local photo shop.

Another huge factor that caught my attention was the price. I had actually looked at digital point and shoot cameras about a year ago, when I was first becoming frustrated with the lack of the optical zoom on my current camera. The price for anything remotely comparable to these three, the Kodak Easy Share Z7590 Zoom Digital Camera, the Konica - Minolta DiMAGE Z5, or the Canon Power Shot S2 IS, was right around the one thousand dollar mark. Each of these three was well below the five hundred dollar mark. The other features on each were just as impressive. All offered an effective sensor resolution of 5.0 MP, and built in capabilities to take black and white or sepia tone pictures in addition to color. The Konica - Minolta DiMAGE Z5 also offer their revolutionary Anti-Shake Technology. While it will not stop a blur if you are jumping up and down, it will help for those people who are naturally a bit shaky when snapping photos.

I still have a lot of research to do, but I think the price has come down low enough, and the features have gone up enough, for me to consider upgrading my digital point and shoot. My son will be pleased, as I have promised him my Sony Mavica if I purchased a new one, and at twelve, he is quite the budding photographer!

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