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As someone who works with technology daily, you would think that I would have all of the latest gadgets and toys. Not true! I am considered a �late adopter�. A late adopter is someone who waits until a product or technology is mature before jumping on the bandwagon.

It may be that new technology is often over priced or not really necessary. It may be that I am afraid of paying too much or making the wrong selection. Or, I may just be a procrastinator. Whatever the reason, I generally wait until all of my friends and colleagues are proficient with any new technology before giving it a try. For example, I did not have cable TV at home until 2000 and I have never used a pager.

One technology that has forced me to change my �wait and see� attitude is the advent of the affordable digital camera. Digital cameras are such a wonderful invention that they are revolutionizing both amateur and professional photography.

Digital cameras boast several advantages over non-digital cameras. The most notable of these advantages is the lack of film. Recording your photographs digitally instead of on film means that you will never again be out of film or fumble to change rolls. Trips to the drug store to drop off your pictures for developing and trips to pick them up later are something your grandmother did.

Digital cameras also allow you to view your pictures on a built in screen as soon as you take them. Pictures that are either too light or too dark and pictures that chop off the top of someone�s head are a thing of the past. If you don�t like what you see for any reason, you simply delete the picture and retake it.

With a digital camera and a little practice, anyone can take exceptional photographs. These easy to use cameras are fully automatic. They automatically focus on your subject, determine the correct aperture and speed settings, and activate the built in flash when necessary. All you need to do is �point and shoot�.

Although using a digital camera is fun and easy, choosing which camera to buy can be a little overwhelming. There are just too many choices and options.

By concentrating on two key characteristics, however, you can safely ignore most of the other options and select a good, affordable camera without giving yourself a headache. The key characteristics to evaluate when choosing a digital camera are picture quality and ease of use.

Although every aspect of the camera contributes to picture quality, the optics have the largest impact. Look for cameras that have good quality optics. Zoom lenses offering optical magnification between 2x and 4x are common.

The resolution of your pictures is also very important to picture quality. Resolution is measured in pixels. Higher resolutions will result in clearer, sharper pictures. Look for a resolution of at least 2.1 mega-pixels.

Evaluating a camera�s ease of use is also important. It is difficult to take good pictures when your camera is hard to use. Make sure that the camera fits comfortably in your hand, is easy to aim, and that the controls are simple to understand and operate.

Battery life contributes significantly to a camera�s ease of use. You can�t take pictures when your batteries are dead. I prefer rechargeable batteries over disposable. Make sure that you can go an entire day without changing batteries or carry plenty of spares.

Another important ease of use factor is the number of pictures that you can take with a digital camera before they must be transferred to some other media to make room for more pictures. This is determined by the amount of storage available in the camera. This storage is typically measured in Megabytes. You should look for cameras with removable media of at least 128 Megabytes in size. This will allow you to take several hundred pictures without stopping to �reload�.

Although choosing a digital camera seems like a daunting task, by focusing on picture quality and ease of use, you should be able to intelligently select a good quality, affordable digital camera that will truly make you smile.

Andy Fograscher

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Author: Andy Fograscher
Date: 8/15/2002
Publication: The Peoria Woman

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