With So Many Choices in Digital Photography, There's a Digital Camera For Everyone

Digital cameras offer something for everyone--from the casual photographer who just wants to capture pictures of family and friends, to the serious photographer who is looking for advanced technology and a professional look for their photographs. All models have the option of immediately seeing what you just took a picture of. Gone are the days when you had to print off everything on the roll, good or bad. Now you can select the photos you want and delete anything else that isn't up to your standards. Your digital photos can be edited, stored at home on your computer, emailed to friends, or printed from your computer, your local retailer or online service. You truly have many choices in all aspects of digital photography--from taking the picture to the finished project.

How Will I Know Which Camera Is Right For Me?

First, decide how you're going to use the camera. Are you a novice photographer, and do you want a simple way to catch every important moment? A point-and-shoot camera will do this job. These cameras have an automatic mode, so all you do is "point, and shoot." They are small enough to fit in a purse or pocket. There are also advanced point and shoot models that offer manual settings as well, so you can have the best of both worlds. And if you are an experienced photographer who is used to manual settings on the tradtional camera, you will probably want a digital SLR (single lense reflex) camera. This allows you to to shoot photos in automatic mode as well as manual, and using different types of lenses.

Digital Camera Information Sources

Here are some places you can check for more information, or to purchase your digital camera if you are ready. Digital cameras are available at almost any variety store, as well as camera shops. But it certainly doesn't hurt to do a little homework before you buy.

  • Circuit City has retail stores throughout the country, as well as a web site with more information about digital technology.
  • Best Buy sells a variety of digital cameras. Their website helps you decide which camera is right for you. Shop by type, price range, megapixel or brand.
  • Dell, well known for computer sales, also has a wide selection of digital cameras to meet every need.

Megapixels and Zoom

What are these? Do I need them? Why, yes you do! Digital cameras use little dots of color to make a picture, and the more of them in the picture, the better your picture looks. The number of dots is measured in megapixels. How many you need depends on the type of pictures you are planning to take and how you will process them. If you are emailing your pictures or printing them, you can get by with 3-4 megapixel range. You can enlarge them up to 8" x 10" and they will still look good. If you plan to enlarge photos up to 11" x 17", go for 5-6 megapixels. If you are used to taking more elaborate pictures and doing more with them, go for 7 megapixels and higher.

Zoom options are used when you want to "zoom in" on your subject without being right on top of it yourself. If you're taking mostly family snapshots, you can get by with a smaller zoom - 1x to 4x. This is available on the pocket sized cameras. If you're a soccer mom or dad who wants to zoom in on your child from the stands, you'll want a 5x zoom or higher. And if you're a serious nature photographer who takes shots from across the mountain, look for a 10x to 12x zoom. Don't expect to find this in the small cameras, though. You'll be looking at the larger, more professional-looking sizes.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

For one thing, you will need more than just the camera to be a successful digital photographer. One of the first things you'll need is a memory card. This is where you store the pictures you take. Most cameras come with a small memory for a little photo storage, but unless you plan on taking just a few pictures of an event and hurrying home to download them to your computer, you will need a memory card. Plan on a 256mb card for up to 4 megapixels, 512 for 5-6 megapixels, and 1GB for 7+ megapixels. Be sure to check for more information when you buy your camera. You'll also need batteries. Digital cameras use a lot of power, so they'll use a lot of batteries, too. We recommend getting rechargeable batteries and a charger. Have extra batteries so you're not waiting around for them to charge.

If you want to print photos at home, consider a photo printer. These will allow you to dock your camera to the printer so you can print without going near your computer. You can also get prints from your digital camera at most any local drug or variety store, or online, for around 12-25 cents a copy.

And don't forget the carrying case so you can carry the camera, batteries and memory cards with you. The case will help keep the camera from getting scratched up.

Once you have a digital camera and have used it for a while, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it!

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