Last year my mom bit the
bullet and finally bought a digital camera, which is always a good sign that a
technology has officially become unavoidable. She doesn’t have a cell phone,
computer, and only recently got a DVD player — actually a loan from my
grandmother, who in turn gave it to my mom so she could watch my wedding disk.
She is finally planning to
upgrade from her 1991 Jetta and is looking at next year’s VW Rabbit, but asked
me whether I thought it would be possible to put her old stereo — complete with
tape deck — in her new car “because the sound is so good.” (It’s not.)
I patiently explained to her
that the sound quality would likely be a lot better in her new vehicle with 10
speakers to enjoy instead of four old ones, CDs instead of 15-year-old tapes,
and are you serious? I can imagine the reaction at the VW dealership if she
didn’t bring this up with me first.
But getting back to the
Digital cameras have come a
long way in a short time, as performance has been arcing steadily upward while
prices have been dropping. It has also become a diverse industry, making it
confusing at the best of times to buy a camera.
There are a handful of
features that I always look for. One is the ability to use AA batteries, which
means I can use my rechargeables most of the time, but can also buy batteries
in an emergency.
Another key feature is a
viewfinder, preferably one that lets me see through a lens rather than a screen
on the back. That’s because screens are impossible to see on bright days, and
don’t keep up to moving subjects very well. They also suck up a lot of battery
power, so with a viewfinder I can turn the display off and only use the screen
to review photos.
Another feature I don’t think
I could do without is the image stabilizer, which compensates for shaky hands,
or taking pictures on the move.
I’m also partial to cameras
that have a dial that easily lets you choose between different shooting modes
without calling up a screen and pressing a lot of buttons.
As for the technology of the
camera, there are a few things everyone should know.