REDWOOD CITY, CALIF. – (November 22, 2004) — It’s the time of year to be making your list and checking it twice. And at the top of many holiday lists this season is a request for a digital camera. In fact, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, digital cameras are the number one “planned item” for holiday gift giving this year. With the explosive rise in popularity of digital photography and online sharing, it’s not surprising that so many family members are eager to play Digital Santa this season. The only question being: Which digital camera should I buy?
More than 30 percent of digital cameras purchased last year were bought as gifts for someone else (PMA U.S. Consumer Buying Report, 2004). There are lots of decisions to make, so guidelines to help shoppers buy the right digital camera at the right price for the right person are a necessity. Just in time for the holiday shopping season Shutterfly, the leading independent online photo service, researched the numerous options available this year in order to give consumers an edge when going online or into the store.
“Having the digital camera that best fits your needs helps you get the shots you want. Our customers often ask our opinion about which digital camera to buy because selecting the right one can be a challenge. For this reason we’ve developed some tips to help consumers sift through the wide array of choices that are on the market today,” says Dave Bagshaw, President and CEO of Shutterfly.
According to Shutterfly, there are several options to be aware of before making a purchase. For the highest quality digital photos and prints, select a camera with a minimum of 3 megapixels — ideal for those that enjoy traditional 4×6 prints and occasional enlargements. To best capture high quality close-up shots, select a digital camera with three-times optical zoom, or more. Finally, replace the manufacturer’s small memory card with one that has at least 64 megabytes. This will allow the camera to hold approximately 70 to 100 high-resolution digital images at a time.
What to Know Before You Shop
Resolution: Resolution is the number of “megapixels,” the millions of picture elements (or individual points of color), contained in a digital image that impacts the sharpness and quality of a photograph. The same pixel resolution will be sharper on a smaller photograph (such as the traditional 4×6 print) but gradually loose sharpness if enlarged because the same number of pixels is being spread over a larger surface area.
Zoom: The “zoom” capability is the number of times a digital camera can magnify an image. Many digital cameras have both optical and digital zoom capabilities, while some have one or the other. When a photo-taker zooms in, the optical zoom engages first and once it’s reached capacity, the digital zoom takes over. Optical zoom uses the camera’s lenses to zoom in on a subject without any loss of image resolution. Digital zoom uses built-in software to magnify the center part of an image and delete the rest of it, which can result in loss of image resolution. Consequently, pictures snapped using a digital camera with only a digital zoom might be lower quality.
Batteries: Some digital cameras use special rechargeable batteries and others use traditional batteries. Rechargeable batteries provide longer usage time than traditional and can be recharged easily in a standard wall outlet. (One can significantly reduce power consumption by turning the LCD screen off and using only the optical viewfinder during picture taking.)
Memory: The more memory you have, the more pictures you can snap. Digital cameras store pictures on memory cards. Manufacturers include a free memory card (or stick) with digital cameras. Typically these memory cards have limited storage space allowing photo takers to shoot and save only ten to 20 print-quality pictures.
Home Printers: When you buy a digital camera, it is not necessary to buy a home printer to accompany it. In fact, many people may not wish to set up a digital darkroom at home that requires maintaining stock of ink and special paper as well as purchasing image-editing software.
Unlike prints made on a home printer (ink printed on the surface of photo paper), Shutterfly uses the traditional silver halide photofinishing process to ensure that your digital prints last for generations to come. With Shutterfly, photo-takers can easily order real photographic prints, enhance pictures by improving composition with cropping and red-eye removal tools, change color pictures to black-and-white and even add captions and creative borders — for no extra charge.
Shutterfly’s Top Digital Camera Picks
The Photo Marketing Association estimates that more than 50 million U.S. households will own digital cameras by year’s end. If someone special on your holiday gift-buying list wants to be included in that number, you may want to consider the following four digital camera models.
|Canon PowerShot A75|
|Sony CyberShot DSC-L1|
|× Megapixels: 3.2||× Megapixels: 4.1|
|× Zoom: 3X optical / 3X digital||× Zoom: 3X optical / 2X digital|
|× Weight: 2.5 pounds||× Weight: 3.0 pounds|
|× Battery Type: AA Alkaline||× Battery Type: |
Rechargeable Lithium Ion
|Olympus Stylus 410|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX7|
|× Megapixels: 4.0||× Megapixels: 5.0|
|× Zoom: 3X optical / 4X digital||× Zoom: 3X optical / 4X digital|
|× Weight: 5.6 ounces |
(without batteries and media card)
|× Weight: 0.5 pounds|
|× Battery Type: |
Rechargeable Lithium Ion
|× Battery Type: |
Rechargeable Lithium Ion
Before you make a purchase, Shutterfly suggests evaluating ease of operation in addition to the technical aspects. Hold the camera in your hand and check how readily it fits into a pocket or purse. Most importantly, try out the digital camera to ensure that the buttons and controls are easily accessible. If it isn’t simple to operate, chances are by next holiday season your friend or family member won’t be using it.
Shutterfly is not currently partnered with the manufacturers of these digital cameras.
*Digital camera prices researched online at Circuit City (www.circuitcity.com) on November 19, 2004
**Digital camera price researched online at Best Buy (www.bestbuy.com) on November 19, 2004
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Founded in 1999, Shutterfly, Inc. (www.shutterfly.com ) is a premium photo service specializing in the consumer and professional photography markets. The company provides customers with simple and fun ways to organize, enhance and archive images; share pictures with family and friends; order professional-quality prints and create an assortment of personalized items such as Photo Books, Calendars and Greeting Cards. In 2005, Shutterfly ranked no. 170 on the 24th annual Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the country.
Shutterfly, Shutterfly Collections and Shutterfly.com are trademarks of Shutterfly, Inc.