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SLOTH: COOL TECH Digital Cameras
Elizabeth Yun
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Hot Shots - How to Shop for the Right Digital Camera

The holidays are just around the corner and one of the best gifts you can give, whether to someone else or to yourself, is a digital camera. Unfortunately, selecting a point-and-shoot digital camera, also known as a compact digital camera, can be a frustrating process due to the overwhelming number of barely distinguishable models available. Most manufacturers place a heavy emphasis on megapixel count in their marketing campaigns, leading consumers to believe that more megapixels equals better image quality. However, this is not always true since most point-and-shoot cameras offer more than enough megapixels to satisfy the needs of the average consumer. Instead, it’s important to focus on finding a good balance of features.

So how do you find the best digital point-and-shoot for your money?
With the expert guidance of Christian Erhardt, Marketing Manager of Leica Camera, Player has put together an easy, five-step process to make purchasing a compact digital camera as painless as possible, and to ensure maximum value for money spent. Knowing your needs will greatly narrow your search for the right camera.

1. Identify your needs with the camera. Will you mainly use the camera during vacations or for snapshots of you and your friends to upload onto the Internet? If so, then you can target lower-end models. However, if photography is a serious hobby, then go for a high-end point-and-shoot.

2. Set a budget. How much are you willing to spend? Once you’ve established this, you eliminate all cameras above your price range, making your choice that much easier. If you don’t want to spend more than $300 then you’ll probably have to compromise between affordability and features.

3. Look at the features offered by each camera. Begin with the resolution. If you plan to print high-resolution images at larger sizes (13” x 19”), go for at least five megapixels. A more casual user would be fine with three or four megapixels—anything larger would be a waste of money. Look for a camera with image-stabilization, which compensates for camera shake, a fast autofocus so you don’t miss an impromptu shot, and a flash range that exceeds ten feet. Don’t bother with digital zoom, which makes the image larger. You can easily do this yourself after you import the pictures to your computer.

4. Assess lens quality. This is the most overlooked step. Avoid a plastic lens at all costs because maximum image quality can never be achieved with this inferior lens, no matter how good the camera’s specs are. Finding a camera with a lens made by a top manufacturer, such as Leica, Schneider or Carl Zeiss will go a long way in making your pictures turn out much better. Also, look for a zoom lens that starts at 28mm, rather than 35mm, because it will allow for wider angles, which are great for group pictures or panoramic shots.

5. The camera’s back screen display. According to Christian, “Most consumers look for a big display on the back so they can see everything.” That is why looking at a camera’s back screen display is the fifth step. He recommends the screen size be at least two-and-one-half inches and have at least 200,000 pixels.
Before you buy, make sure you head to a consumer electronics store with a wide selection so you can have a good variety to choose from. Be sure to test-drive the two or three most attractive cameras. The side-by-side comparisons will immediately make clear which one is best for you.

1. Leica D-LUX 3
From one of the most prestigious names in photography equipment comes the D-LUX 3, boasting 10.4 megapixels, 4x digital zoom and a high quality Leica lens. The compact body easily fits into your pocket and has all the conveniences of a basic automatic point-and-shoot as well as unique manual options for the professional photographer in you.
PRICE: $600.00

2. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FX55

This 8.1 megapixel camera utilizes Panasonic’s latest Intelligent Image Stabilization technologies to create crisp, clear images. The Intelligent Auto Mode incorporates face recognition, continuous auto-focus and scene detection to eliminate blur and automatically calibrate the camera to the optimum settings for a particular shot.
PRICE: $349.95

3. FujiFilm FinePix F50fd
Twelve megapixels, 3x optical zoom lens, Dual Image Stabilization, Face Detection 2.0 technologies and numerous picture-taking modes mean that your images are always sharp, even in low light scenes, with FujiFilm’s latest compact camera. The high-resolution LCD screen displays 100 micro thumbnails at once for easy shot navigation.
PRICE: $299.95

4. Samsung L83T

This new ultra compact, 8.2 megapixel Samsung L83T camera features a 3x optical zoom lens with face recognition, red-eye reduction and an array of shooting modes for all types of scenery. The camera also features digital image stabilization to eliminate blur and a fun option that allows you to add frames, text and speech bubbles to your photos.
PRICE: $279.00

5. Casio EXILIM Card EX-S880
Casio and YouTube have partnered up on the EXILIM to add a YouTube Capture mode and special software. The optimized settings allow you to capture high-quality videos and upload them quickly for viewing on the Internet. The camera itself features 8.1 megapixels, 3x optical zoom, high-speed continuous shutter and wide-angle viewing.
PRICE: $299.99

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