Digital Cameras are rapidly replacing film based cameras, they have many advantages, you can instantly view your pictures, and if you dont like it, you can delete it and take another without wasting film. You can also easily edit your photos using your computer and a photo editing program, one of the best is Adobe Photoshop, however it is rather expensive and complicated, I would recommend Adobe Photoshop Elements if your just beginning in digital photos.
When shopping for a digital camera there are many terms you will need to have a basic understanding of in order to make a good choice. Lets start with pixels, digital images are made up of thousands, or even millions of tiny squares called pixels, each square has its own color, and the combination of all these millions of squares makes the picture. Megapixels, simply means millions of pixels, and is usually used to describe the maximum number of pixels a camera can produce in its photo, the higher the megapixel rating, the larger the image can be, it is similar to the resolution of your computer screen, if you've ever adjusted the screen resolution up from say 800 x 600 to 1024 x 768 you would notice everything got smaller and more detailed and you have more room. Digital cameras use small sensors to capture the image before transfering it to flash memory for storage, the 2 types are CMOS and CCD, in general CMOS sensors are found in cheaper cameras, and produce lower image quality than a CCD sensor that would be found in a more expensive camera. The one exception to the rule that CCD offers better image quality than CMOS is with digital SLR type cameras, which use a much larger CMOS sensor, and can provide excellent image quality but at a much higher price. There are two diferent zoom types optical and digital zoom, digital zoom uses circuitry to enlarge the image, but the image quality is not very good. Optical zoom magnifiys the image using the camera lens, and offers much better image quality. There are many different type of memory available for storing your images, one of the most popular is SD memory(secure digital). The important thing to remember about what ever type of memory your camera uses, is that if it is necessary for you to take a rapid series of photos, then you need will need good quality, high speed rated memory capable of sustained write speeds of 9 MB/s, generic memory typically has a speed rate of 2.5 MB/s.
The fact that pixels are square creates a problem with digital images which may appear jagged around the edges, this is called aliasing, to solve this problem engineers have come up with anti-aliasing, through software, the edges are blended, and the jagged appearance can be made much smoother, if you are a computer gamer you may be familiar with anti-alaising as its used to create a smoother image in video games as well, Needless to say this is a good feature to look for in digital cameras. Aspect ratio describes the shape of a digital image, the first number represents the width, and the second number represents the height, the best comparison is with TVs, which have a regular aspect ratio of 4:3, and widescreen TVs which are popular today are 16:9. Standard film cameras usually use an aspect ratio of 3:2, where as most digital cameras have adopted a 4:3 aspect ratio so that images fit better on a computer monitor. Once you've taken your digital photos, you'll need a way to get your photos from the camera into your computer. some common means of connectivity, in order from slowest to fastest are serial, USB, Firewire, and USB 2.0, I would recommend USB 2.0 as most newer computers are equiped with it, and it is very fast. Another alternative method of transfering your images other than using the cameras native means of connecting are flash memory card readers which are becoming very popular and convienient, simply remove the memory from the slot on the computer and put it in the appropriate slot on the reader.
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