Basics of Equipment

In This Chapter

1 Choosing the best camera 1 Looking at resolution 1 Examining camera categories 1 Checking out basic camera features

Choosing a digital camera isn't a once-in-a-lifetime thing any more than buying a car, choosing a computer system, or purchasing a television would be. Your goal should be to select the digital camera that can do the job you want today and for the foreseeable future but not for the rest of your life. Odds are, you'll be making the decision all over again two or three years down the road, when prices have dropped even further and new features are available.

So, you want to choose wisely now, while planning to make future upgrades. In that sense, purchasing a digital camera is more like buying a television than a computer system. Most computers can be easily upgraded to add features or improve performance You can increase the amount of memory, substitute a DVD burner for an older CD-ROM drive, and perhaps even double or triple the speed with a new processor.

Digital cameras aren't easily overhauled. You're pretty much stuck with the sensor and storage system built into the camera on the day you purchased it. If you don't have a digital SLR with interchangeable lenses, you're more or less married to the lens that comes attached to your camera. You can certainly enhance your camera with add-ons, such as lens attachments, additional removable storage, or a better external electronic flash unit. But, essentially, no matter how much digital cameras improve over the next few years, yours will stay the same. Just as you wouldn't purchase a 45-inch conventional projection TV now if you're going to need a 42-inch HDTV set next year, you want a digital camera that's ready for everything you plan to throw at it.

This chapter is an overview of what to look for when choosing the digital camera that's best for you, whether you're a well-heeled amateur who changes cameras as often as many of us change clothes, or you're a frugal buyer who wants a camera that will do the job for two or three years. You find out the basics of the features that you need to evaluate before you lay down your cash. In Book II, I go into more detail as you build your digital studio, starting with a detailed look at cameras and features in Book II, Chapter 1.

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