Which digicam features should I consider?
The heart of any digital camera is the CCD. The larger it is in physical size and the more pixels it contains, the better quality of the image. Although physical size (usually considerably smaller than a frame of 35 mm film) seems stuck where it is for the present, they are cramming more pixels onto those tiny rectangles every day. Generally, the more pixels, the higher the cost, but prices are dropping rapidly. If you will be satisfied with viewing your images on a computer monitor, sharing them on the Internet with other growers, or perhaps making snapshot prints no larger than 3 x 4 in, a CCD with about 640 x 480 pixels (307,000 pixels) may do. If you want to make sharp prints, up to about 5 x 7 in, then do not settle for less than 1280 x 1024 pixels on your CCD (1.3 megapixels). A photo-quality 8 x 10 demands an image captured on a CCD of about 2000 x 1500 pixels (3 megapixels). For comparison purposes, be sure that the advertised pixel size is that of the CCD, and not the file size after being interpolated by the internal computer, which can be about three times larger. Also important to consider are memory, ease of download, and types of flashes.
The better cameras allow the photographer to choose the resolution (detail) stored in a captured image: the higher the resolution, the larger the digital file. Files much smaller than 1 MB in size do not produce quality prints; so, you can see that if you are going to shoot 30 or so higher resolution frames in a session, you are going to need a camera memory of at least 30 MBs. You can't get that on a standard 3.5-in floppy disk, so your camera must be able to use miniature removable memory cards (such as CompactFlash), which are readily available in 64 MB sizes and larger.
Contributed by: TommyUK
Obviously the most pixels the better, but more pixels equal more money. For what you are asking i would suggest around 3.0 megapixels. This would produce print size 8x10 @ high quality.
A zoom allows you to get close to your subject and produces are better picture. So now we have digital zoom and optical zoom. The different between these two are..
Optical zoom refers to magnification within the lens itself when you zoom in or zoom out on the subject (also known as changing focal length). In other words, the lens adjusts forward and backward just like with a film camera. Optical zoom does not diminish the quality of the digital photo. If you like to zoom, make sure the camera has a powerful optical zoom capability.
Digital zoom doesn’t change focal length. Instead, as you zoom in closer, a smaller and smaller portion of the digital sensor is used to record the digital photo. This has the effect of lowering the number of pixels in the photo. Zoom in too much and when you make a print from the photo it lacks clarity and sharpness.
Camera come in all different sizes. The size of your camera does matter a great deal. Most smaller cameras can take superb quality pictures but may not hold all the features the consumer wants. So if your going for a smaller camera keep in mind that this could mean less features!
Roughly a battery should allow about 100 pictures to be taken before going dead. Everyone who has a camera should know that they drink batteries dry. Make sure when buying a camera that the battery is rechargeable.
Compact Flash memory cards are currently the most popular type of memory card on the market because of their durability and the wide range of storage they offer (from 16 megabytes to 1 gigabyte). There are more cameras on the market today that accept CompactFlash memory cards than any other type of memory, which means that you’ve got more choices in cameras, memory cards and card readers.
Scene option helps you take better pictures by automatically adjusting to the type of picture you are taking, potrait or landscape. Thumbs up from me for advanced and novice users
Flash and the dreaded red-eye
Red-eye reduction is a standard feature on most cameras but remember that it is just a reduction, not removal. If you absolutely hate red-eye, or you shoot a lot of portraits, consider a camera that has a hot-shoe or other connection for an external flash. Keeping the flash away from the lens reduces instances of red-eye and often produces more attractive portraits. If you want maximum flash control, look for a camera that allows you to manually adjust its output too.