by David Hakala
A digital camera is almost a necessity these days. When you are checking out digital cameras keep in mind your intended uses for one. Here are some typical uses for digital cameras and the camera features suited to them.
Casual shooter: you just want some decent-looking snapshots to email or put on a Web page. Perhaps you will print photos smaller than 8 x 10 inches on an inkjet printer using ordinary bond paper. If you need glossy prints you’ll take your digital images to a photo processing center.
Just about any digital camera will handle these tasks. Any picture resolution over 2 megapixels will do. A flash and zoom are necessities. A card slot for memory cards is good; if your computer does not have a memory card slot you will want a USB-compatible card reader. Other nice features include red-eye reduction, image stabilization to compensate for shaky hands, and video capture.
Fashion hound: you want the best shiny toy you can afford. You want great pics that you can print on glossy photo paper. You want nifty features you can show off to your friends.
You’re looking a resolution of 10 megapixels or better. You want 12x optical zoom, not the less-sharp digital zoom. You want HD video capture, at least 720p, and you want an HDMI interface to your TV. Of course, you don’t want to fool with cables so your camera has a WiFi adapter built into it, or a Bluetooth transmitter. A big three-inch LCD display and ultracompact design are your cup of tea.
Business user: you want to take photos on customers’ sites and print them professionally for brochures and such. You will probably share this camera with coworkers.
A mid-range camera costing a few hundred bucks is right for you. It should have manual as well as automatic focus and exposure so you can get pictures exactly right. Optical zoom equivalent to a 35mm film camera is a must. Voice recording and playback is handy for making notes about a shoot.
David Hakala has perpetrated technology tutorials since 1988 in addition to committing tech journalism, documentation, Web sites, marketing collateral, and profitable prose in general. His complete rap sheet can be seen at http://www.linkedin.com/in/dhakala