Digital Camera Shopping Guide

Camera Tips

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Secrets of Long Life

Digital cameras use either proprietary recharge-able batteries or traditional AAs. I recommend rechargeable cells. They tend to be more compact, easier to pack, and far less expensive in the long run. But make sure that the charger included with your camera is practical. Too often, chargers have thick cords that take up far more space than the camera itself. I prefer compact battery chargers that are separate from the camera (so I can charge a backup battery while I’m out taking pictures), and that plug directly into an electrical outlet without requiring a cord.

Get a Better View

Not everything happens at eye level. If you like shooting from unusual perspectives, such as over your head or from knee level, I highly recommend get-ting a camera with a vari-angle LCD. On these cameras, the screen swivels out, so you can easily compose shots from any height—perfect for photographing kids or pets. You can even point the screen back at yourself for self-portraits. However, if you want a vari-angle camera, you’ll probably need to investigate advanced amateur models. Compact cameras and SLRs almost always have fixed-position LCDs.

Improve Your Memory

Think all memory cards are the same? Think again. High-performance memory cards can significantly speed up the process of saving image data—so you can take more photos in less time. For example, a standard SanDisk 512MB card inserted into a Canon EOS 10D will transfer at roughly 750 KBps. The high-performance SanDisk Extreme card can transfer the same data at about 1.3 MBps—almost twice as fast. High-performance cards are usually more durable, too—able to withstand the bumps and bruises that accompany on-the-go photography. To get the most from your digital camera, especially when shoot-ing in continuous mode, make sure your memory card matches or exceeds your camera’s maximum speed. (For more information, go to Rob Galbraith’s memory-card database.)

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