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Digital Camera Buying Guide

Optical zoom, megapixel, image stabilization, ISO ...help!

Since you’re here on this page, you're probably trying to find the right digital camera to fit your personality, needs, and budget.

It’s really not all that hard – and to help you with your shopping, we've put together some typical uses, a list of recommended features, and we  even explain some of the lingo.

Just take a look below and decide which one represents you best.

 

 

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Snap-and-Send

“I’d like to buy a camera that’s super simple to use for around $100.  I’ll probably only use it for family activities and fun occasions.

For the most part, I’ll be viewing and sending pictures on my computer, posting them to my blog or Facebook pages and printing snapshot sizes.

This would be a great camera for the kids to use!”

Features to look for:
-  Pocket size and colorful design
-  8-10 megapixels
-  3X optical zoom
-  easy-to-read display with simple controls
-  Face detection
-  YouTube and Kodak Gallery upload
-  Scene modes for typical shooting scenarios, such as portrait, landscape    and party

 
We recommend the:
KODAK EASYSHARE C180



 
 

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Curious Creative

“I want a camera that’s compact, stylish, not too complicated and lets me explore my creative side with some of the coolest new features, such as HD video and more zoom.

I’m willing to spend up to $200.

It needs to be a camera I can take every where – the kids sporting events, concerts, holidays, and works well in all lighting conditions.

I like to create posters from my pictures and frame them; they need to look great at larger sizes.”

Features to look for:
- Compact, sleek camera
-  Ideal for varying weather and lighting conditions
-  8-10 megapixels
-  3-7X optical zoom
-  Image stabilization
-  Smart Capture feature
-  Face detection
-  HD picture and video capture
-  YouTube or Kodak Gallery upload
-  Scene modes such as night time, macro, beach and snow

 
We recommend the:
KODAK EASYSHARE M340



 
 

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Fledging Photobug

“I love shooting pictures! My friends have said my pictures look like they were taken by a pro. I am the self-appointed photographer everywhere I go, so I want a camera that is flexible, provides high-performance and allows me to experiment.

I’m willing to pay $200-$400 for a camera that is loaded with features and gives me great shots in any situation.”

Features to look for:
-  Powerful, feature-rich camera with both auto (Kodak’s Smart Capture    feature) and manual controls (PASM)
-  Robust features – intelligent scene capture, panoramic stitching
-  10-12 megapixels
-  Powerful zoom 5-24X optical zoom
-  Wide-angle (26-28 mm)
-  Optical Image Stabilization
-  Best-in-class picture capture speed for shooting fast-action photography
-  Kodak’s innovative Smart Capture feature via auto mode
-  High ISO
-  HD picture and Video capture

 
We recommend the:
KODAK EASYSHARE Z980



 
 

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Camera Features

Now that you have a better idea of what kind of features you might need, we should probably talk about what some of these features do.

The Kodak Advantage
Kodak’s revolutionary Smart Capture technology detects and analyzes scenes, and automatically adjusts camera settings for crisp, clear, true-to-life pictures.

 


Kodak’s Smart Capture

Take better pictures than ever before. Kodak’s innovative Smart Capture feature adjusts camera settings for great pictures in just about any environment - automatically.

Intelligent Scene Detection
   • Analyzes the scene (faces, motion, macro, landscape, text) and automatically      adjusts camera settings to deliver the best picture possible, plus

Intelligent Capture Control
   • Automatically sets exposure, focus and ISO to capture clear, sharp pictures,      even in challenging situations, plus

Intelligent Image Processing
   • Reduces noise and applies Kodak Perfect Touch (KPT) technology to each      picture to capture both shadow and highlight details for vibrant, crisp, true-to-life      colors.

 


 
 
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Megapixels

A digital camera captures images as a bunch of pixels. When it gets to a million, it is a megapixel. The more megapixels your camera can capture, the higher the image quality. For camera buying, we can boil megapixels down to three pieces of advice.

First, the number of megapixels is not the be all and end all of camera-buying criteria. Many other factors, such as the optical quality of the lens, will contribute to the final picture.

Second, megapixels matter most when it comes time to print your images, so the more you print and enlarge, the more megapixels you’ll need. For example, a 2 megapixel camera will create a 4x6-inch snapshot print and a 4 megapixel camera will max out at about an 8x10 enlargement. For poster-sized prints, 6 megapixel images can be enlarged to as much as 16x20 and 8 megapixel images to 30x40.

Finally, megapixels are important if you crop an image. The more megapixels you have to work with before you crop, the better the final image will be.

 

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ISO Range
ISO measures a digital camera’s ability to capture images in low-light and fast-action situations. A basic camera has an ISO range of 100-400.  The higher the ISO number, the better it performs, although higher ISO settings will introduce more noise into the darker areas of the photo.
 
 
 
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Zoom – optical vs. digital

Optical zoom is a true zoom, magnified by the lens itself.

Digital zoom is a simulated zoom that enlarges the image but can reduce resolution. Optical zoom is far more important when it comes to choosing a camera.

 

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Image Stabilization – optical vs. digital

This feature can help prevent blurry pictures in two different ways.

Optical (or mechanical) image stabilization uses a mechanism within the camera to compensate for your movement when taking pictures especially with a long zoom.

Digital image stabilization compensates for motion by increasing the ISO and shutter speed. As with zoom, optical is better.

 
 

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Face detection
You can capture everyone in his or her best light with this technology. It identifies human facial features in the scene and automatically adjusts the camera settings for a better portrait.
 
 
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On-camera Tagging

Tagging is a great feature that allows you to attach your own words to pictures so you can quickly find them later. On-camera tagging allows you to do this before you even download them to your computer.


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HD
HD still capture
This feature lets you capture pictures in a 16:9 format so that you can view them in high definition on an HDTV.

HD video
Allows you to capture video in HD quality for viewing on your HDTV. Additionally you will have the capability to e-mail and print single or multiple frames.