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Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Here's my little digital camera review as of Jan 17 in this fast-changing market:

  • My camera is a 2.1 megapixel, with a 2x zoom. It also has a 3x digital zoom, but digital zooms are fake zooms - your picture quality goes down. It's hard to just go by numbers, though. Here are a whole bunch of photos I've taken with it (507 as of today!). I especially like how well it takes low-light photos.
  • Here are some interesting numbers:
    • I've taken about 2500 pictures, keeping 500 or so of them.
    • That's $600 of film and developing, if you say that's about 100 rolls at $2 apiece and you can develop them for cheap at Sam's for $4 a roll.
    • The camera & extra memory cost about $1000, so I'm well on my way to breaking even, after about a year.
    • However, I probably wouldn't have taken that many pictures with a regular camera, as the digital encourages taking a lot of photos. Also, I've bought photo paper and ink to print several of them, which can add up, too. A photo-quality printer will also put you back another $300 or so.
    • The money conclusion? You'll end up saving money, but it might take a couple years before you do, or even longer if you do a lot of printing.
    • Why spend the money? For instant results, and most importantly the ability to take tons of pictures. After all, isn't the goal here to get great pictures?
  • Go to's digital camera section, and you'll be able to read the opinions of people who have actually bought and used the different cameras. They also have a nice breakdown by use / price level. They also give you an idea of what prices to expect. I'd be very careful about buying anything online though, a lot of those rock-bottom prices will get you somewhere else.
  • Go to for an excellent description of lots of different cameras. This one is good for checking out the details of a specific camera - it doesn't help you find the right camera for you. You especially want to read the section called "Steve's Conclusion" on each camera, because he does a good job of pointing out the potential shortcomings.
  • One more very well-done review site is Digital Photography Review , but like with Steve's Reviews, you have to have an idea of what you're looking for first. DP Review has a really nice side-by-side compare, so you can compare apples to apples on up to 20 cameras at a time!
  • Another useful idea is to check prices on, and especially availability. Another issue with you - does your computer have a USB port? If it doesn't, you'll need a camera that supports the old style serial port, which is very slow. The USB connection is much more useful especially with the large image sizes.
  • But pretty much, I've found cnet and steve's reviews to be most helpful. You might want to go over to Dad's office when you do it, so you don't have to wait forever for the pictures. The lower end cameras don't have much of a zoom.
  • Finally, you find a Best Buy or Circuit City to go get your hands on some cameras to see how big/heavy they are, and how well they fit in your hand.
  • Specific recommendations:


LaRocque Family