From the Kenosha News on 12-5-04

Realities of Digital Photography

      Whether youíre asking for a digital camera for Christmas, giving one as a gift, or just thinking about taking digital pictures for the holidays, here are some realistic and unrealistic expectations and a few tips.

      Expect to get what you pay for.  The quality of picture you get from your camera depends on the megapixel rating.   More megapixels mean finer resolution and higher picture quality.  At 4 megapixels, thereís no visible difference between a picture taken by a digital camera and a 35mm when it is processed and printed professionally.  Also, look for a camera with an optical zoom of at least 2x, since it uses the lens to zoom in.  A digital zoom uses the ďcomputerĒ in the camera to enlarge the center of the picture, which decreases resolution.  Look for a reputable brand that has a track record of making both good cameras and good electronics.

      Donít expect the pictures to look fantastic on your computer screen.  No matter what the quality (megapixels or resolution) of the actual picture file is, it only displays on the screen at 72 dots per inch.  The printed image should look considerably better.

      Expect to get better pictures.  My favorite feature of my digital camera is that I can eliminate less-than-brilliant pictures right away.  Right after I take a picture, I preview it on the camera and decide if I want to keep it or delete it and take another.  That way I never miss having a picture of something special because it doesnít turn out.  Also, since light isnít needed to develop the film, I donít need to use flash as often, and I can get better pictures in darker conditions.  I can also experiment whether a picture looks better with or without flash.

      Donít expect to save money on developing.  While you can develop a 24 exposure roll of conventional film for $4-$5, it costs about 24 cents per print (nearly $6) to develop 24 digital pictures.  As explained, however, they should all be good pictures!  If you think you can save money by buying a photo printer or printing on your home printer, reconsider.  The costs of paper, ink, and the printer will likely outweigh the cost of having your pictures professionally developed, and the quality wonít be as good.

      Expect to have more fun with your pictures.  Digital pictures are easier to share, modify, and make into gifts.  Iíve found the photo center on Walmart.com to be an excellent value, allowing me to upload as many pictures as I want and e-mail a link to my friends and family at no cost.  When Iím ready for prints, I order them on-line and pick them up about two days later at the local WalMart.  Using my computer, I can crop and rotate my pictures before I upload them, and I can order enlargements or specialty items such as jigsaw puzzles or calendars.

      So, even if youíre a skeptic like I was, digital photography can be very rewarding.  My Canon PowerShot is fabulous for vacation pictures, and Iím looking forward to this yearís holiday pictures.

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 12-5-04