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Photo Finish

Digital cameras are the latest thing, but is it time to put away your film?
Steve Morgenstern
From the Print Edition:
Raquel Welch, Jul/Aug 01

No question about it -- film is amazing stuff. The roll you buy for a few bucks at any corner drugstore can reproduce what you see with exquisite detail. What's more, sophisticated film cameras are a great value. Then why do I shoot with a digital camera instead?

Instant Gratification: I can see my pictures seconds after taking them.

Digital Darkroom: After transferring digital images into the computer, I can fiddle with them to my heart's content, turning flawed originals into wonderful photos.

Peace of Mind: With a digital camera, I know whether I've captured that key photo at a once-in-a-lifetime family gathering or event -- and, if not, I can keep trying.

No Per-Shot Cost: With film, I hesitate before ¿wasting¿ a shot. With digital, I can shoot till my shutter finger is sore, eliminating the shots that didn't work as I go.

Kid-Friendly: I hate handing a roll of film to a child who promptly takes 36 expensive photos of the cat running away. With digital, they can take picture after picture, and maybe learn something in
the process.

Internet-Ready: Digital photos can be shared with family and friends within minutes, via e-mail or posted to a free personal album on the Web.

Privacy: I don't know about you, but sometimes I'd rather not share my photographic masterpieces with the pimply-faced kid at the one-hour photo lab.

If you share my enthusiasm for electronic snapshots, here are the six variables you should consider to buy smart, along with my six favorite high-end camera picks.

Resolution Resolution is the raw material of your digital photograph -- the number of colored dots that combine to create the image. Higher resolutions deliver greater detail and better-looking printouts. That doesn't mean you'll always want to shoot at the highest resolution possible -- as resolution increases so does file size. Fewer images may be stored in the camera when the files are larger. Furthermore, you may not want to e-mail Mom a photo of the baby that will take her all day to download. In choosing a camera, though, there's no downside to going with the highest resolution available -- you can always choose to shoot at lower-resolution settings when appropriate.

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