Digital photography is, if you’ll pardon the pun, on a roll. An estimated 78 percent of U.S. households owned at least one digital camera in 2009, according to Photo Marketing Association International. And recent advances in camera technology, camera phones, online image-sharing options and printmaking make digital photography more appealing than ever, especially for busy new parents who want to make sharing baby pictures with family and friends as easy as possible. To make the whole process less intimidating, here are 13 tips for choosing and getting the most from a digital camera.
Know your megapixels A megapixel represents a million pixels, the tiny bits of visual information that make up a photo. The more megapixels your camera has, the better the image quality will be and the larger you can print. Aimee Baldridge, senior editor at the technology and electronics review site CNET.com, recommends choosing a camera with at least 4 megapixels. “Years from now, you may want to make really nice prints of your child as a baby, and a [digital] camera will let you do that,” she says. Always use your camera’s highest-quality setting.
Try before you buy “Not everyone’s hand is the same [size], so some cameras will be more comfortable than others,” says Baldridge, who recommends testing a camera’s controls in a retail store even if you plan to buy online. Look for a model that’s easy to use with one hand, freeing the other to steady a fidgeting toddler. Take a few pictures to test “shutter lag”—the delay between pressing the button and the shutter releasing. With longer delays, you may miss fleeting facial expressions, for example.
Out with the old Get the latest model available. Advances in features and performance more than make up for any savings you may get from buying a used or outdated camera.
Zoom, zoom Spend a little more for a camera with an optical zoom lens, which gives you a lot of flexibility in framing your shots (allowing you to get close-ups of your baby’s face without sticking the camera in your baby’s face, for example). Unlike digital zoom, which is basically in-camera cropping, optical zoom doesn’t degrade image quality.