Final results can be made into cards or T-shirts,Guest Posting or sent via e-mail, all using the software that usually comes with the camera. You can make prints on a color inkjet printer, or by dropping off the memory card at one of a growing number of photofinishers. You can upload the file to a photo-sharing Web site for storage, viewing, and sharing with others.
Like camcorders, digital cameras have LCD viewers. Some camcorders can be used to take still pictures, but a typical camcorder’s resolution is no match for a good still camera’s.
The leading brands are Canon, Fujifilm, HP, Kodak, Olympus, and Sony; other brands come from consumer-electronics, computer, and traditional camera and film companies.
Digital cameras are categorized by how many pixels, or picture elements, the image sensor contains. One megapixel equals 1 million picture elements. A 3-megapixel camera can make excellent 8x10s and pleasing 11x14s. There are also 4- to 8-megapixel models, including point-and-shoot ones; these are well suited for making larger prints or for maintaining sharpness if you want to use only a portion of the original image. Professional Digital cameras use as many as 14 megapixels.
Price range: $200 to $400 for 3 megapixels; $250 to $400 for 4 and 5 megapixels; $300 to $1,000 for 6 to 8 megapixels.
Most Digital cameras are highly automated, with features such as automatic exposure control (which manages the shutter speed, aperture, or both according to available light) and autofocus.
Instead of film, digital cameras typically record their shots onto flash-memory cards. CompactFlash and SecureDigital (SD) are the most widely used. Once quite expensive, such cards have tumbled in price–a 128-megabyte card can now cost less than $50. Other types of memory cards used by cameras include Memory Stick, Smart Media and xD-picture card. A few cameras, mainly some Sony models, use 3 1/4-inch CD-R or CD-RW discs.
To save images, you transfer them to a computer, typically by connecting the camera to the computer’s USB or FireWire port or inserting the memory card into a special reader. Some printers can take memory cards and make prints without putting the images on a computer first. Image-handling software, such as Adobe Photoshop Elements, Jasc Paint Shop, Microsoft Picture It, and ACDSee, lets you size, touch up, and crop digital images using your computer. Most digital cameras work with both Windows and Macintosh machines.
The file format commonly used for photos is JPEG, which is a compressed format. Some cameras can save photos in uncompressed TIFF format, but this setting yields enormous files. Other high-end cameras have a RAW file format, which yields the image data with no processing from the camera.
Digital cameras typically have both an optical viewfinder and a small color LCD viewer. LCD viewers are very accurate in framing the actual image you get–better than most of the optical viewfinders–but they use more battery power and may be hard to see in bright sunlight. You can also view shots you’ve already taken on the LCD viewer. Many digital cameras provide a video output, so you can view your pictures on a TV set.
Certain cameras let you record an audio clip with a picture. But these clips use additional storage space. Some allow you to record limited video, but the frame rate is slow and the resolution poor.
A zoom lens provides flexibility in framing Eye Camera security shots and closes the distance between you and your subject–ideal if you want to quickly switch to a close shot. The typical 3x zoom on mainstream cameras goes from a moderately wide-angle view (35mm) to moderate telephoto (105mm). You can find cameras with extended zoom ranges between 8x and 12x, giving added versatility for outdoor photography. Other new cameras go down to 24 or 28 mm at the wide-angle end, making it easier to take in an entire scene in close quarters, such as a crowded party.
Optical zooms are superior to digital zooms, which magnify the center of the frame without actually increasing picture detail, resulting in a somewhat coarser view.
Sensors in digital cameras are typically about as light-sensitive as ISO 100 film, though some let you increase that setting. (At ISO 100, you’ll likely need to use a flash indoors and in low outdoor light.) A camera’s flash range tells you how far from the camera the flash will provide proper exposure: If the subject is out of range, you’ll know to close the distance. But digital cameras can tolerate some underexposure before the image suffers noticeably.