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When you're buying a new digital camera, there are some obvious features you'll compare, such as resolution (megapixels), zoom, camera size and the size and brightness of the LCD screen. But there are a few other features that should be part of any digital camera comparison.
Shutter Lag – shutter lag is that annoying space between the time you press the shutter release on the camera and when the camera actually takes the picture. If you've ever photographed children, you'll know that's more than enough time to miss the shot. Look for the shortest lag time possible – some point-and-shoots now claim to have lag times as low as .005 second.
Power Source – Occasional snapshooters may be happiest with cameras that run on AA batteries. They're available virtually everywhere, and they eliminate the need to recharge after the camera has been sitting unused for weeks or more.
Access to Menu Features – Some cameras are easier than others when it comes to accessing various menu features. And when you're shooting, you don't want to have to scroll through several layers of menu to get to the setting you want to change. For example, the Pentax Optio WP has a customizable “green button” that allows you to access four settings of your choice with just a press of the button.
Movie Sound – Quite a few digital point-and-shoot cameras offer a “movie mode” that allows you to record short video clips. But some don't record sound. Unless you like silent movies, look for sound as well as movie capability.
Digital Zoom – Ignore this feature. It's really not a zoom at all, and is meaningless for camera comparison purposes. (Compare only the “optical zoom” numbers.) Digital zoom merely enlarges a portion of the screen, resulting in a grainier shot. If your new camera comes with a digital zoom – and most do – turn it off, so you don't accidentally ruin a shot by moving into the digital zoom range.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|