Here is the response I've written to
several inquiries that have lamented...

Being confused about
digital cameras

Don't. Just get one...

A lot of people are puzzled with the array of features whistles and bells when facing a switch to a digital camera. But be NOT bashful to jump in. You'll be glad you did.
__ 1.3 megapixels is pretty much history these days, with 2 megapixels now controlling the field, and Kodak, Olympus and Nikon all introducing their 3 megapixel models at Macworld San Fran. Several of the manufacturers now offer hot-foot flash, and interchangeable lenses. At that point they get a little pricey.
__ I've tested all three, in the 2 megapixel arena, and they're knockouts. Yes, I bought a 640 x 480 Cassio too... off the showroom floor at their introduction... $700. It broke within a year.

Things have changed:

The Olympus D-400 and 450 Zooms are 1.3 megapixel cameras that are outstanding. either should fill all the needs of the casual snap-shooter for family vacation and non-professional business uses. Our User Group President, Dr. David Steinburg just got one (at my recommendation for $400 at the Price Club (Cosco). You may want to check there.
__ I use one based on our own reviews and testing, and have used it for nearly a year now -- it has performed flawlessly. In fact, I've used it very successfully in our photo studio here at Showker Graphic Arts for even some demanding commercial product shots -- with good results! You can see samples in the website noted below. Also, all of the reviews seen in the Design Center with product shots were all taken with the Olympus D-400 Z.
__ I am planning on buying the new Nikon (950 I think) because it's the top of the heap for quality... $950. It will also double as our professional, in-studio camera for product and web site clients. (It has flash-plug capabilities, so studio lighting can be slaved to it.)
__ Will give the Olympus to my daughter who is college bound in the Fall. (Prices should drop on this unit as the new ones come in... if you can find one.) There are a number of good articles regarding digital cameras along with good reference links.

Major issues for the home or hobbyist:

  1. Glass lens - many of the cameras have plastic
  2. Actual Zoom - not interpolated zoom, which is software
  3. Flash Card Smart Media - should accept different capacities
  4. Serial download - better than Disk media
  5. Ruggedness

I also look for "USE" features
__ The clamshell design with sliding lens cover is superb for ruggedness -- I've dropped mine twice onto concrete with no damage. It slides right into a jacket pocket (or cargo pants!) The Kodak, Olympus D-600s and above are all boxy and cannot be carried in pocket or purse. Something to consider.
__ The Mavicas (Sony) were very hot, and many people love the ability to use floppies. My brother has two of them. I didn't like the Mavicas when testing... the disk mechanism is cumbersome, and I tested their picture quality to be less than the Olympus and Nikons. (They just don't have the lens technology which is the most important aspect of any camera!)
__ One of his cameras captures Mpeg video, in small gulps, and that's really a very cool feature! Talk about a crowd pleaser. But the images are poor quality for anything other than amusement -- and a disk can only hold about 15 seconds of good video and sound.
__ None of the Mavicas will carry well in pocket or purse.)


You're worried about prints. The Olympus review unit sent to us came with their $279 Color printer -- which generates up to 4 x 5 prints. This is a real honey!
__ The 3 x 5s are very close to what you get at the photo processor from the auto-everything 35mms. 4 x 5s are very acceptable and all but a few really observant people assume they're just normal snapshots. To get 8 x 10 prints you MUST have at least the 2 megapixel and the 3 mp is best. There are now print services online that you can UPLOAD your files to and get prints the next day. Rather pricey -- and you can see where the color printer will pay for itself if you use a lot of prints.
__ I'm no longer into prints for snapshots with the exception of the real gem you want to print and send out. Thousands upon thousands of prints are stuffed away in drawers and shoeboxes in the closet and probably will never be seen again until someone cleans out my last personal effects.
__ Last summer, in two family trips with all kinds of uncles, cousins and friends, I shot more than 300 images with the Olympus, downloading to the PowerBook as the media filled up. Everyone was thrilled to be able to see the photos right away, and nobody missed passing prints. Seeing the shots on the 14" monitor in slideshow fashion was so much better! The slideshows on the 19" monitor at home are nothing less than spectacular. The high resolution monitor makes them look far better than their 3 x 5 snapshots would, and the presentation can be backed by QuickTime or MP3 music, or even voice annotations. (Use iView on the Mac, and you can use the Mac's microphone to annotate any photos... when they display the voice notes automatically play too. Very cool.)
__ Now with over 2,600 shots on the home computer, they can go and jump right to the shot they want to see. Try that with prints!
__ For Christmas gifts I burned Photo CDs for all the brothers, sisters and friends who went on the trips... at a buck-fifty per CD. Try to send 300 prints to six different parties (that's 1,800 prints) for nine dollars. Using HTML and a web-like interface anyone can access the photos on the CD by simply opening the "index.html" file in their favorite browser. What a great gift!
__ Since Olympus is flushing out old inventory of the 400s and 450s, and you can still find them at liquidation prices that's the best deal going in the marketplace today. If you've got a Super Wal-Mart, Cosco or Price Club in your area, check'em out.
__ If planning on affording upwards to $1,000, then the Nikon is heads and shoulders above ALL of the rest in terms of construction, usability and picture quality. The 3 megapixel unit will ship in May or June.
If you do purchase a digital camera, buy a couple of other things too:

  1. A battery charger, (Radio Shack Cat #23-406), get the NiCad batterys, you'll need double the number the camera requires. This way you have a load in the camera and a load in the charger. I've used the same 8 batterys for over a year now, with no sign of depletion.
  2. An extra flash memory card. Just purchase the one that goes with the camera. When you fill up one, simply switch and start filling the next one. You can download all the images directly from the camera, or purchase an optional flash card reader for your desktop.
  3. An AC adapter. (most of the cameras will not come with one, but you'll want one for use while printing or downloading.)

While you're shopping you MUST go to the Ace Camera Index... to find the best deals.

Hope I helped.

(Quote as you like for articles, etc. Keep the URLs please.)

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