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Last updated: Sept. 23, 2003

Additions/feedback/suggestions: tips@sree.net


Choosing a Digital Camera

After test driving several digital cameras, the good news is that that prices have come down as quality has improved -- dramatically. I now shoot exclusively using the digital format, and haven't regretted it. Except for all the batteries that digital cameras need.

Things to "focus" on:

1. Resolution: Measures how much info a digital camera can record; expressed as pixels or mega pixels; the higher the better. The 5-megapixel cameras used to cost over a $1,500 in 2002, you can get some models for less than $500. If you are only going to be e-mailing your photos and using them on the Web, the a 3-megapixel camera should be enough. Basically, get the most megapixels you can afford.

2. Zoom: The range for various shots. The more zoom the better.

3. Fully automatic or is it dual use: Does the camera control everything, or can you also adjust aperture and shutter and other controls.

4. Storage capacity: One thing about shooting digitally that is different than the old way: you can almost always delete on the fly and constantly reshoot. You want to buy a card that allows you to store as many photos as possible. The more the megabytes - MB - the better.

Best place to comparison shop is shopper.com from CNET.com (www.shopper.com). You can get different prices of the same model and check shipping charges, too.


Useful sites
CNET Editor's Choices
http://reviews.cnet.com/Digital_cameras/2001-6501_7-0.html?tag=glnav

On a tight budget? See these bargains from CNET:
$200-299: http://reviews.cnet.com/4502-6501_7-0.html?tag=srch&orderby=-7eRating&qt=&100021id=7751639&1000036id=&501375id=&501071id=&501936id=&500409id=
Less than $200: http://reviews.cnet.com/4502-6501_7-0.html?tag=srch&orderby=-7eRating&qt=&100021id=7751640&1000036id=&501375id=&501071id=&501936id=&500409id=
Less than $100: http://reviews.cnet.com/4502-6501_7-0.html?tag=srch&orderby=-7eRating&qt=&100021id=7751641&1000036id=&501375id=&501071id=&501936id=&500409id=

Digital Photo Review
http://www.dpreview.com

Journalist Tom Karlo says, "It has the most in-depth reviews and benchmarks of any site I've found."

DCViews.com
http://www.dcviews.com

Excellent site for an international take on digital cameras

Digital Camera Resource Page:
http://www.dcresource.com

Reviews and Prices:
http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/cameraList.php3
http://shopper.cnet.com/shopping/0-11326-301-0-0.html?tag=st.sh.11264-301-0.lst.list_11326

About.com on digital cameras
:
http://graphicdesign.about.com/arts/graphicdesign/msubdcam.htm?rnk=r3&terms=digital+cameras

NYT in-depth story on digital photography (free registration for NYTimes.com required)
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/28/technology/circuits/28STAT.html
Interactive graphic: http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/technology/20020228_PHOTOS/index.html

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See Sree Tips on photography

sree.net > tips > digital cameras

Here are three models in different price ranges (These are no longer the newest cameras. I am preparing an updated guide for the weeks ahead).

1. Nikon Coolpix 990
The camera I use every day. Time magazine's 2000 "Machine of the Year" (read the magazine's description).
If you have the money, get this. Fully automatic or full manual -- can't go wrong either way. I especially like its tilting viewfinder.
Shopper.com prices: $704-900
Note: Nikon has since introduced the Coolpix 995 and the Coolpix 2500.

2. Olympus C-3030Z
Terrific camera. Shoots great, full control, and looks good, too. Amazing battery life, fully automatic, or fully manual.
Shopper.com prices: $600-999

3. Olympus D-360L
Best camera for this price. Works well.
Shopper.com prices: $222-312.

Camera we use at Columbia (has been replaced by the C-3030Z above)
Olympus C-2020Z or C-2000Z
We bought 10 for Columbia's Journalism School in January 2000 and were very happy with them.
Shopper.com prices: $479-799 (March 2000 prices) $625-$899.

A recommendation from journalist Tom Karlo <tom@karlo.org>:
I've been using a Canon Digital Elph S100. It's probably the smallest 2+ megapix camera out there. It loses on flash power (they all do in my view) but for a camera that can be carried all the time, there's no beating it - it's about the size of a deck of cards.