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Conumer Buyer Guide Digital or Optical Zoom what's the difference?

Digital Camera Consumer Buying Guide

Digital Cameras

Digital Camera Consumer Buying Guide The increasing popularity of digital cameras has made it one of the fastest growing categories in consumer electronics. With more products, features and functions available now than ever before, shopping for a digital camera can be quite overwhelming. Finding the right camera is important, because once you enter the digital world, you will never look back.

Where do you begin? What are the questions that you should be asking? How much should you spend? Often, the right question is as important as the answer. With the right research and the right questions you can confidently embark on the road to digital photography and begin exploring the new possibilities.

There are three main considerations in purchasing a digital camera:

Digital Camera consumer buying guide- ResolutionResolution
What's the difference Digital or optical zoom?Zoom
How much memory should i have for my digital camera?Memory

A New Resolution - how much is enough?

One of the first questions you need to address is how much resolution you want. Simply put, resolution determines the size of the picture the camera can print without sacrificing clarity. Your resolution requirements are linked to the size of the pictures you were planning to print, both now and in the future.

Digital Camera consumer buying guide- How do digital camera's Work?How does it work?

Unlike our traditional film cameras that expose the film to light in order to capture the image, digital cameras use light sensitive sensors to convert information on the image into digital code.

The more light sensors the camera has, the more detailed the print will be, and the larger the print can be before distortion.

Digital images are made up of coloured dots called pixels. The greater the number of individual dots of colour used to produce the image, the clearer the image. Resolution is about these coloured dots or pixels.

The key to understanding resolution is in the Mega-pixel capacity of the camera. The Mega-pixels refers to the number of light sensors the camera uses to create digital picture. This is one of those times where more is better, so the greater the Mega-pixels, the larger the print the camera is capable of producing.

Explanation of Megapixel and Print Size ?Let's run some numbers to explain this concept:

A 3 Mega-pixel camera is capable of printing images up to 8x10, while a 4 Mega-pixel camera is capable of printing images up to 11x14. Now, most people do not regularly print themselves 8X10's of their holiday snaps, let alone 11X14's, but the size of the whole picture is only part what you need to consider.

With digital photography, one of the most valuable elements of the technology is the ability it gives us to edit the images we have. While you may not choose to hang 11X14 prints on your wall, digital images allow you to crop, enlarge and capture that single priceless expression or a close up of a family member who looked good in your holiday photo.

The greater the Mega-pixels you have, the better the quality of the edited picture you produce.

If there is a "downside" to high resolution, it is that the digital code can take up a lot of space on your camera's memory. To accommodate this, many cameras come equipped with several different resolution settings. This allows you the option of lowering the resolution in order to have smaller file size and fit more images onto the memory card.

Which Zoom is better digital or optical ? When should you use it?Close up and personal - choosing the right Zoom

The zoom function on a camera allows you to "zoom" in on a specific part of the picture you are taking with having to physically move closer to it.

Digital cameras use two types of zooms, digital and optical. Understanding how these features work will help you select the combination that it right for you.

Optical zoom behaves in the same way that traditional film cameras do, using lenses to magnify the image. In other words, optical zoom brings you closer to the picture. This is the preferred method of taking a close up picture, mainly because optical zoom does not negatively impact the resolution of the image. The general standard for optical zoom is 3X (which indicated a threefold magnification of the image). Higher optical zoom is offered on many models, although upgrading optical zoom will influence the price.

Digital zoom, on the other hand, takes a portion of the image, crops it and expands the pixels to magnify the image and brings the picture closer to you. One of the negatives to the digital zoom is that it diminishes the quality of the image by making the pixels bigger.

Close ups using digital zoom can also be done after the picture is taken using an image manipulation software package (included with most cameras).

What types of digital camera memory is there? How does memory work?Memory - How Does Memory Work?

A digital camera uses memory to store the digital code that make up the images. The more memory you have available, the more pictures you can store.

There are very few cameras on the market that offer built-in memory because it is generally quite limited. Instead, most cameras today include a type of removable memory to store images called a memory card. Think of the memory card as a re-usable digital film. The size of the memory card determines the capacity of the camera to store pictures.

The resolution of the camera also influences the amount of memory required. The higher the resolution of the camera the larger the file size of the image. Most high-resolution cameras can take pictures at a lower resolution setting, allowing you to fit more images onto your memory card.

Memory cards are reusable. In order to keep the images you must transfer them to another form of media to free up the camera's memory card. A popular option is to transfer them to CD-ROM, which is an inexpensive and reliable form of removable media.

There are many different types of memory as well, including Compact Flash, Secure Digital, Memory Stick, and XD. These various shapes and sizes operate in a similar fashion, and the type of memory card you use is generally dictated by the type of camera you select.

While one memory card is not necessarily better than another, these types of memory are beginning to appear in many other electronic devices so it may be in your best interest to keep things compatible.

An idea to consider is the purchase of an additional memory card, an extra one to use as backup. Here again, more is better; and the more memory you have available, the greater the number of pictures you can store on your memory card before it is full and needs to be downloaded to your computer or transferred onto CD ROM and made into prints by a photolab.

The ability to store a large number of images without having to download is especially useful if you are away on vacation.

If you prepared in advance you could have previously purchased a digital wallet. This allows you to download your images into a 5, 10 or 20 gig portable hard drive which fits conveniently on your belt, then delete the images on the card and continue to photograph.

While purchasing additional memory cards can be expensive, they are a worthwhile investment because they can be used over and over again.

How much power do digital camera's consume?Demand for Power:

There is also the issue of batteries. Digital cameras use battery power, and should the batteries deplete, the cameras will stop functioning. Granted the digital cameras is more demanding on batteries however if prepared, you can overcome the power demands of the camera.

There are several options for power used by digital cameras.

Some cameras come with rechargeable batteries. Even those that don't can be retrofitted with rechargeable batteries that are available as an add-on purchase for almost all cameras. Since digital cameras are quite power hungry appliances, rechargeable batteries are generally considered to be the most economical way to go.

Some cameras come with proprietary rechargeable batteries that offer convenience and often a long lasting lithium ion battery. Lithium ion batteries, similar to camcorder batteries, have little memory effect, which means that you can recharge the battery at anytime without having to fully drain the battery.

They also offer a long lasting charge to maximize the use of your camera between charges. The drawback to these systems is that, despite the longer life of these batteries, they can be expensive to replace and are specific to certain camera models. If you select a camera with a proprietary rechargeable battery it is recommended that you buy a spare to avoid losing power at an inconvenient time (like in the middle of a vacation).

The other power option that digital cameras use is AA size batteries. Due, however, to the previously mentioned power hungry nature of digital cameras, standard AA size alkaline batteries, both disposable and rechargeable, only last a few hours in the camera with average use.

The best option for digital cameras is a high-output nickel metal-hydrate rechargeable system

The advantage to these cameras is that in a pinch, if your rechargeable runs out of juice, a AA battery can do the job until you can get recharged.

Lithium disposable batteries also make excellent back-up power on the road due to their long shelf life and reliability, so make sure you carry a set to all your important events.

Most cameras also have capabilities for AC adapters. For convenience, why waste battery power while you transfer your images to your computer or view your images on the camera's LCD screen at home.

Digital Camera consumer buying guide Accessories that are essentialAccessories

Digital Camera Consumer Buying Guide When it comes to accessories, it can be fun finding out which ones are compatible, which ones are beneficial and which ones are right for you.

Memory Card Readers - Can simplify the process of transferring images to your computer and save battery power in your camera. Rather than connecting cables from the computer to your camera, a memory card reader is permanently attached to your computer. Simply remove the memory card from the camera and put it in the reader and the image files show up on your computer, just like any other drive, ready to be transferred.

Memory Card Adapters - Similar to memory card readers, memory card adapters plug into PC card slots, and your memory card plugs into the adapter. PC card slots are found on most notebook computers and offer an alternative to Memory Card Readers, which plug into a USB port on your computer, which may be unavailable.

Add-on Lenses - Some digital cameras have the capability to add on either telephoto or wide-angle lenses to the existing lens. The telephoto lens can add 2x more optical zoom to your existing zoom, so a current 3x optical zoom becomes 6x! A wide-angle adapter can allow you to fit more into your image. Wide-angle add-ons are available in .5x.

Camera Bags - Most digital cameras do not come with bags, leaving you to choose a bag that best suits your needs. Be sure to protect your investment as bags can protect your camera not only from impact damage, but from weather elements as well, such as moisture and humidity.

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