Magazine article Sunset

Digital Camera News

Magazine article Sunset

Digital Camera News

Article excerpt

Digital cameras, first introduced in 1997, are entering a new era: Today's models are higher quality, less expensive, and easier to use. They're also popular: International Data Corporation, a market research company, estimates that shipments of digital cameras will grow from 6.6 million in 1999 to 31 million by 2003.

These new-technology devices, which bypass film altogether, have several advantages over conventional cameras. Since images are stored digitally, they're compatible with your computer-and with the Internet: You can e-mail vacation photos, send baby pictures snapped 10 minutes before to far-away grandparents, put up a family webpage, or post a shot of collectibles for sale on eBay.

You can also review an image immediately after snapping it. If it's not what you want, you can erase it. If you like it, you're your own photoprinting shop. Most cameras come with photo-editing software, such as Adobe PhotoDeluxe, Microsoft PhotoDraw, or MGI PhotoSuite III, that lets you crop, enlarge, or otherwise enhance your pictures once they're in your computer. You then print them on inexpensive (less than $300) color printers from manufacturers such as Canon, Epson, HewlettPackard, and Lexmark.

Inevitably, the first generation of digital cameras had some shortcomings. The newer ones are significantly improved, especially in image quality, which is defined by the number of pixels-tiny dots of lightthat the-camera can handle. The more pixels, the higher the image resolution and thus the better the photograph. But the higher the resolution, the more storage space is required. The biggest word in digital cameras today is megapixel, which refers to resolution of at least 1 million pixels. Megapixel photos can handle being enlarged to portrait sizes like 5 by 7 inches.

Storage cards, the digital equivalent of film, have grown in capacity and dropped in price. Now 8 megabyte (MB) CompactFlash cards that can hold roughly 45 high- or 90 standard-resolution images come with most cameras. Additional cards sell for as little as $25 for 8 MB, $90 for 32 MB.

Transferring the image from the camera to the computer has improved as well, since most newer computers have a USB (universal serial bus) port that allows fast transfer via a cable from the camera's USB port. An alternative, and inexpensive, technology is the card reader. …

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