In the past few years, digital cameras have gone from high-end geeky toys with poor reproduction quality to most people's choice for casual snaps.The whole process of buying a digital camera can still be daunting for first-time buyers, though. What to buy: the latest credit-card-thin camera or that key-ring-sized gadget the spammers keep e-mailing you about?
The good news is that you don't have to spend big bucks to go digital. The eight cameras above represent some of the best digital buys under $500. Those simply looking for something simple for Web and e-mail use can go cheaper, but the $300-to-$500 price range will get you into that magic 2.1 megapixel range - good for printing. Here are some of the basics to keep in mind when making your decision. Happy shooting!
The standard by which digital cameras are most often measured. Determines how big a photo you can produce that will still be sharp. More is obviously better. Sub-megapixel cameras are good for kids, while one to two megapixels is usually good for printing photos.
Three-X is the standard zoom for a digital camera. Anything less is a waste of time.
OPTICAL VS DIGITAL ZOOM
Optical zooms are traditional zoom lenses that zoom in on the subject. Digital zooms enhance what's at the centre of your photo but give you a lower-quality image.
All those digital photos have to go somewhere. Most cameras have removable digital memory cards, a system that allows you to increase memory: load up a card and simply stick in a new one without having to dump the photos into your computer first. There are several different brands of cards, including Smart Media and Sony's thin Memory Stick. The larger the size of the memory actually on the card, the more photos you can take.
A novelty, really, but most newer digital cameras allow you to take short "movies," occasionally with sound. Don't expect a major motion picture, but this can be a nice touch if you simply need to shout "Action!"