Press Releases Dec 04, 2003

SHUTTERFLY ANSWERS MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED HOLIDAY QUESTION: WHICH DIGITAL CAMERA SHOULD I BUY?

REDWOOD CITY, CALIF. – (December 4, 2003) — For many holiday shoppers, the question this year is not what to buy but which model. We’re talking digital cameras, of course. According to the new “Circuit City Dashing Through Your List Survey,” the top electronics gift choice is the digital camera. With digital photography’s explosive rise in popularity, plenty of parents, siblings, girlfriends and grandparents are eager to play Digital Santa this season — if they only knew which camera to buy.

Nearly 30 percent of digital-still cameras obtained last year were purchased as gifts for someone else (PMA U.S. Consumer Buying Report, 2003). To help shoppers buy the right camera at the right price for the right person, Shutterfly, the leading independent online photo service, researched the numerous options available this year to give the mainstream consumer an edge when going online or into the store this holiday season.

“There are so many advantages to digital photography: you can review your pictures instantly and share them online. But the biggest benefit — especially for parents with young kids who take hundreds of pictures — is the ability to print only the pictures you want instead of every one you take, saving you both money and a trip to the store,” said Dave Bagshaw, President and CEO of Shutterfly. “It’s no wonder that digital cameras are now outselling traditional film cameras, but determining which one to buy can be a challenge. Since Shutterfly customers often ask our opinion on which digital camera to buy, we’ve developed some shopping tips to help consumers sift through the wide array of choices that are on the market today.”

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. This impacts the sharpness of a photograph; for example, the same pixel resolution will be sharper on a smaller photograph (such as the traditional 4×6 print) while gradually losing sharpness on enlarged photographs, because the same number of pixels is spread over a larger surface area.

Any digital camera you buy should be clearly marked with a label indicating the number of megapixels (MP) per digital image. Holiday gift-givers should consider cameras with a minimum of two megapixels, ideal for recipients that enjoy traditional 4×6 prints. For enlargements beyond 8×10, you may consider a camera with three or more megapixels.

Zoom: The “zoom” is the number of times a digital camera can magnify an image. Many digital cameras have both optical and digital zoom capabilities. Optical zoom uses the camera’s lenses to zoom in on a subject without any loss of image resolution. (The higher the camera’s optical zoom measurement (e.g., 2X, 3X and higher), the closer you can focus in on a subject.) 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. To capture high quality close-up shots, Shutterfly recommends buying a digital camera with a three-times optical zoom lens.

Batteries: Another important consideration is power. Some digital cameras require special batteries and others use traditional batteries (e.g., one to two AA batteries). If you can afford a digital camera with a rechargeable battery (i.e., NiMH) and charger, that special person on your gift list will appreciate not changing off-the-shelf batteries every thirty minutes. Otherwise, you may want to consider buying extra batteries or a battery charger as a stocking stuffer. Also, be sure to let your gift recipient know that he or she can significantly reduce power consumption by turning the LCD screen off and using only the optical viewfinder during picture taking.

Memory: Pictures taken with a digital camera are stored on a memory card. When you purchase a digital camera, the manufacturer includes a free memory card (or stick) inside your new camera. Typically, these memory cards have limited storage space and photo takers can only snap and save ten to 20 print-quality pictures, total. Shutterfly suggests replacing the manufacturer’s small memory card with one that has 64 megabytes, which can hold approximately 70 to 100 print-quality pictures. You can buy a memory card -a one-time purchase (approximately $40) — where digital cameras are sold. Be sure to tell the recipient that once digital images are uploaded and saved to a computer and an online photo service, they can be erased from the memory card, which is then ready to store dozens of new pictures.

Home Printer Not Included, Not Necessary: When you buy a digital camera, you do not need to buy a home printer to accompany it. “Although home printing satisfies the need for instant gratification — after adding up the costs of the printer, paper and ink cartridges — printing a photo quality print at home averages about 50 percent more expensive than using an online photo service, and most inkjet prints today have a shorter lifespan,” says Jill Aldort, Senior Research Analyst, for InfoTrends Research Group.

Online photo services like Shutterfly allow photo-takers to easily order film-quality prints online, enhance pictures by adding captions and improve the composition and the image with cropping and red-eye removal tools. They can also create unique photo gifts, store images safely at no charge and instantly share them with friends and family. Shutterfly uses superior photofinishing processes, similar to traditional chemical methods for developing film, to ensure that prints last for years to come — unlike ink-jet printing, at home.

Shutterfly’s Top Digital Camera Picks: InfoTrends Research Group estimates that 33 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 digital camera models. But before you make a purchase, Shutterfly urges potential buyers to evaluate ease of operation and not simply focus on the following 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.


Getting Started: $200 – $250

  • Fuji* Fine Pix A210
  • Olympus Camedia D-560 Zoom


Ready to Invest: $350 – $450

  • Olympus Stylus 300
  • Casio Exilim EX-S3
  • Canon Power Shot S400


Dedicated Shooter: $600 – $1,000

  • Sony Cyber-Shot
  • Nikon Coolpix 5400
  • Canon EOS Digital Rebel K2

For further information on pricing and specific product features, please see Digital Camera Recommendations, below.

*Shutterfly uses Fuji Crystal Archive paper along with Fuji chemicals and equipment to develop its film-quality prints: otherwise, Shutterfly is not affiliated with the vendors that manufacture these digital cameras.

SHUTTERFLY’S DIGITAL CAMERA RECOMMENDATIONS


GETTING STARTED


Fuji Fine Pix A210
— $199.99*
— Resolution: 3.2 MP
— Zoom: 3X optical zoom / 3.2X digital zoom
— Weight: 6.2 ounces (without battery and memory card)
— Shutter speed: 1/2 – 1/2000 second
— Power source: 2 AA alkaline batteries or NiMH rechargeable battery pack

Olympus Camedia D-560 Zoom
— $249.99*
— Resolution: 3.2 MP
— Zoom: 3X optical zoom / 3.3X digital zoom
— Weight: 5.8 ounces (without battery and memory card)
— Shutter speed: 1/2 – 1/1000 second
— Power source: 2 AA alkaline (included), 2 AA NiMH, NiCad or 1 CR-V3
lithium battery

READY TO INVEST

Olympus Stylus 300
— $349.99*
— Resolution: 3.2 MP
— Zoom: 3X optical zoom / 4X digital zoom
— Weight: 5.8 ounces (without battery and memory card)
— Shutter speed: 1/2 – 1/1000 second
— Power source: Li-10B lithium

Casio Exilim EX-S3
— $349.99*
— Resolution: 3.2 MP
— Zoom: 4X digital zoom
— Weight: 2.5 ounces
— Width: Less than 1/2 inch thick
— Shutter speed: 1 – 1/6400 second
— Power source: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery (included)

Canon Power Shot S400
— $449.99*
— Resolution: 4 MP
— Zoom: 3X optical zoom / 3.6 digital zoom
— Weight: 6.5 ounces (without batteries)
— Shutter speed: 15 – 1/2000 second
— Power source: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery (included)

DEDICATED SHOOTER

Sony Cyber-Shot
— $599.99*
— Resolution: 5 MP
— Zoom: 4X optical zoom/ 4X digital zoom
— Weight: 10.9 ounces (with battery and memory stick)
— Shutter speed: 1/8 – 1/1200 second
— Power source: NP-FC11 InfoLithium rechargeable battery

Nikon Coolpix 5400
— $699.99*
— Resolution: 5.1 MP
— Zoom: wide-angle 4X optical zoom / 4X digital zoom
— Weight: 11.3 ounces
— Shutter speed: 3 – 1/4000 second
— Power source: Rechargeable lithium-ion

Canon EOS Digital Rebel K2
— $999.99*
— Resolution: 6.3 MP
— Zoom: depends on lens purchased
— Weight: 19.7 ounces
— Shutter speed: 1/4000 – 30 second
— Power source: Rechargeable lithium-ion

*All digital camera prices researched online at Best Buy (www.bestbuy.com) on December 2, 2003.

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About Shutterfly (www.shutterfly.com)
Since 1999, Shutterfly has made it simple and fun for people to stay connected with those who matter most. Using film or digital cameras, Shutterfly customers enjoy the benefits of the company’s award-winning products and services; including film-quality prints and an assortment of personalized photo products, as well as free image editing, picture sharing and secure storage in online albums. Shutterfly’s Pro Gallery service (www.shutterfly.com/progallery) provides an end-to-end fulfillment solution for professional photographers who want to sell their photos online. For more information, please visit http://www.shutterfly.com/about/prs_center.jsp.
Media Contacts:
Bridgette Thomas
Shutterfly
(650) 610-3519