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Old Feb 22, 2005, 6:22 AM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2005
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Note: The followingadvice is for a basic useful camera for the person who is buying their first digital camera, wants to take snaps easily and is on a low budget. I live in Australia. Note: AU$ = Australian dollars, US$ = U.S. dollars.

2MP?, 3MP?, zoom?: most people only need to print a 6in x 4in photo which 2MP-3MP camerascan handle fine. Optical zoom should be at least 3X which makes objects 3 times the size and is useful for medium distance 5-50 metres.

You pay more for good quality glass optics which the established camera brands use, eg. Kodak, Fuji, Olympus, Nikon, Pentax, Canon etc. If they have made cameras for 50 years they should be OK. Stay away from cheap brands such as Hewlett Packard that make many products and get Chinese factories to manufacture their products to a list of specifications usually low price being the motivation. No offence to our Chinese friends.

The next most important thing could be the interface, a well designed menu system is easy to navigate through and the most used functions should be a single selection not hidden away.

Storage: the flash card for storing the many images. Compact Flash was the cheapest (in Australia) up until this year when Secure Digital has caught up and is sometimes cheaper. SD cardsare also smaller so more camera manufacturers will be taking it up I imagine. XD is more expensive and Sony Memory Stick is the most expensive. So if you want a cheap first camera go for one that uses Secure Digital cards and this will make the final price (camera, flash card & power) lower.

Power: batteries and a charger. Using "one use" batteries is expensive and environmentally damaging. In Australia Nickel Metal Hydride or Ni-MH are the rechargeable batteries available, they currently go up to 2500mAH (milliAmp Hours). Lithium-Ion is the latest technology but unavailable in consumer form ie. AA AAA etc. They are used by manufacturers only it seems. E.g. Apple's Ipod uses Lithium-Ion batteries but the replacement is through Apple and costs about AU$200 and the 20Gb Ipod is AU$500...

Most cameras take 2 AA batteries so at least 4 batteries and a fast (1 hour) charger are necessary. Due to the explosion in digital camera sales rechargeable batteries are getting cheaper and more "powerful". E.g. 2 years ago 2000mAH were the highest capacity available, now its up to 2500mAH and the cost is about the same at AU$20 fora 4 pack.

So, in AU$ about $250-$300 for a good 3MP, 3X optical zoom camera, 128Mb SD card (about 100 hi-res images) $25, 4 batteries $20 and a 1 hr. charger $50 equals: $345-$400 or for our Nth American friends: US$260-$300 minimum.

I hope this helps.

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