Digital Camera Buying Guide

Take your desktop publishing to a whole new level with digital cameras. From point-of-sale material to annual reports, you can now create high quality documents in-house at a fraction of the cost of professionally produced materials. The quality of the documents you produce using digital images depends on a number of contributing factors. The following list of features will help you choose the model that best fits your small business needs:

Resolution measures the sharpness level of an image expressed in pixels. The more pixels the camera can record the finer the detail of the image produced. The industry average is 640x480 resolution. Lower resolutions are best for viewing onscreen images such as Internet publishing. Higher resolutions produce the best results for printed images.

Bit depth indicates the number of colors your digital camera can reproduce. The higher the bit depth the better the image quality. A camera with a 24-bit color capacity can process up to 16 million colors.

Memory is used to measure the number of pictures your digital camera can store, which usually ranges from 16 to 40 images depending on the resolution of your snapshots. However, most models come with additional memory in the form of floppy disks or memory cards, which provide unlimited temporary storage capacity because they can be erased and reused.


Optics refers to the type of lens used. Less expensive models typically have fixed lenses. Higher quality models have zoom lenses increasing the number of shot options. You can save hundreds of dollars by choosing the optics most compatible with your production needs.

The type of viewfinder is another important feature to consider. Digital cameras come with an optical or LCD viewfinder, or both. An optical viewfinder is simply a little square window used to frame your shot. The LCD viewfinder not only frames your shot, it also allows you to view previously shot images stored in memory. You can then delete unwanted images freeing up valuable disk space.

In order to keep up with technology trends, it is necessary to make sure that your camera has the right connection to go along with your computer. Many digital cameras now feature Universal Serial Bus (USB) or IEEE-394 (FireWire) connections instead of serial or parallel port connections. The reason behind the switch is that USB and FireWire offer lightning-fast speed for high-speed storage and video capture. By the end of the year, at least 80 percent of digital cameras will be either USB or FireWire compliant. If your computer doesn’t support either of these connections, you may need an upgrade to continue in digital imaging.