Dec 2, 2004

Snapshop into this Year's Hot Gift

They will be one of the hottest items this Christmas. Here is a basic introduction to ... digital cameras.

Digital cameras use computer chips, not film. Digital cameras are rated in terms of megapixels. Basically... the more megapixels, the greater the detail and sharpness of your pictures.

Though cameras range from 2 to 8 megapixels, the average user is well served by cameras in the 3 to 4 megapixel range. These cameras allow you to print very clear pictures up to 8 x 10. Essential features should include an optical zoom. A digital zoom manipulates the image electronically. Optical zoom uses the glass lens, just like a pair of binoculars, to bring objects closer. Optical is superior to digital zoom.

Also look for flash control. While you can still point and shoot automatically, flash control allows you ... and not the camera ... to dictate exposure. That can be important in harsh lighting conditions, such as when shooting someone in front of a window or other bright background.

Digital cameras work on batteries. Stay away from disposable batteries. Rechargeable batteries last a lot longer and are cheaper in the long run.

Most digital cameras come with a tiny memory card to store the pictures. However, their capacity is limited. You will want to buy a larger memory card. A 128-memory card on a 3-megapixel camera will hold about 60 pictures. A 256-memory card will hold about 120. It will cost about 90 dollars.

You will also need a printer. If you have a computer at home, chances are the printer is capable of printing color pictures. If not, you will need to buy one. A decent color printer will start at under 200-dollars.
If you do not have a computer, some printers allow you to directly insert the memory card, bypassing a computer altogether. However, if you want maximum control over the editing of your pictures, including cropping, color and exposure control ... you will most likely prefer to edit through your computer.
All cameras come with basic editing software. For an additional cost, more powerful editing software is available, and, of course, you will have to buy special paper to print the pictures on.
Enjoy the world of digital photography.
The results are instant, you can delete any shots you don't want, and you don't have to wait for the photo store to develop your pictures. And best of all... you can e-mail them to anyone, anywhere in the world!