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Several Features May Help Make Camera Purchase a Snap

August 10, 2011

Whether you wish you could take tons of pictures of every adorable thing your grandchildren do, or document your world travels, there are plenty of reasons to update to a new and reliable camera.

If your last camera required you load a spool of film and drop it off at the local camera shop for development, it might be time to upgrade.

Even if you bought a camera last year it could be outdated as camera makers keep up with the technological times and the features and functions continue to evolve.

So what's the right camera for you?

Getting started

As with many technologies it is always important to think about how it's going to be used. Will you use it at a dance recital trying to capture the performance on stage or on a cruise ship trying to catch a shot of the whales you spot?

Richard Klupt, a sales associate for Abt Electronics, says most standard digital point and shoot cameras come with optical zoom at four to five times what the eye can see.

But, he says, to capture a photo of the ballerina on stage or the whale in the distance it may be worthwhile to look for a camera with at least 10 times optical zoom.

"It does drive the price of a camera up, but a lot of times you aren't as close to the subject as you would like," he says.

It's automatic

For those who are never sure when you need a flash or how to adjust for low light, the good news is today's cameras take a lot of the guesswork out of photography.

Klupt says almost all models now come with an intelligent auto mode that does everything from determine if a flash is needed to adjusting the focus.

For those who prefer to dabble in the art of photography and set speeds and lighting whenever desired, most cameras do offer a manual mode, but the more manual features there are the more the camera is likely to cost.

It's universal

For additional ease, a more recent feature is that cameras are now all on a universal memory card or SD (secure digital) card.

"This makes everything a lot better," Klupt says. "You can just take the card out and go into the local pharmacy, pop the card straight into the machine and touch the pictures on the screen you want printed out."

In addition, all cameras today that connect via USB (Universal Serial Bus) port come with the cable provided as part of the camera purchase, Klupt says. This allows the connection between a computer and camera to import the digital images to be saved on the computer.

"It's always good for us to know if you are on a Mac or PC," Klupt says. "Then we can gear your choice toward what you are using it with."

It's new

Camera technology is continuing to improve and keep up with the way people use their photography, so if you are shopping for a new camera it may be worth asking about some of the newer features available.

Klupt says most cameras now also offer the ability to take high definition video.

While the USB ports are fairly standard now he says the future is HDMI, or high-definition multimedia interface, that allows cameras to be hooked up to the TV where pictures and video can easily be viewed.

Odds and ends

Another feature most cameras have now is image stabilization. Klupt says it is a great feature for older adults who may not be as steady as they once were holding the camera. The stabilization makes adjustments and can typically take a clear image regardless of hand movement.

One thing not to expect to find, Klupt says, is a viewfinder. He says he still gets requests for cameras with a viewfinder from people who prefer to hold the camera to their eye. But, with the exception of one or two, all cameras now have an LCD (liquid crystal display) screen.

A starting point

While there are many good choices on the market, Klupt says he likes Cannon because they tend to provide photos with exceptional color. A good digital point and shoot camera could range anywhere from $150 to $350 or more. Price goes up with more manual features or the higher the optimized zoom.

One suggestion Klupt offers is the Cannon Elph100 HS. He says it retails for $198, is easy to carry, doesn't have too many settings and takes great pictures.

"This camera does all the work for you," Klupt says.

Another popular model is the Canon SX130. Klupt says it is a little bigger than many of the slender camera options, which many older adults like because it is easier for them to grip and hold on to. It retails for $229 but includes a 12 times optical zoom and a larger 3-inch LCD screen.

© Copyright 2011 The Chicago Tribune

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