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Going shopping.

everybody wants a digital camera, but who knows which one to choose? We asked one of Florida's best--and busiest--photographers, Sarasota's Dick Dickinson, to help us with this daunting task.

First Dick made a checklist of critical factors. Then with the help of salesman Joe Parisi (below) at Best Buy we chose a winner in four different price ranges.

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THE LIST

Simple or intuitive: Does the camera make sense? Can you use it without reading that complicated book? Picture quality: Does the picture maintain its integrity for your uses--i.e., e-mail or making a print? Does it lack "noise" (a digital term that means grainy or pixilated)? Battery: How long will the battery last before it needs to be charged? Are the batteries rechargeable? Delay: Is there an annoying delay between pressing the button and the camera taking the picture? Comfort: Does the camera feel too big, too small or just right in your hands? Lens: Is it a quality lens made by a known name--i.e. Ziess, Nikon, Cannon, Schneider? Is the lens wide enough or long enough for your needs? Memory card: What type of card does the camera use? Is it included in the price? How many images does it hold? How much are extra cards? Price: Can you find everything you want in your price range? If not, what will you sacrifice?

DICK'S PICKS

$250: The Kodak 6340 has 3.1 megapixels and a built-in 16 megabit memory card that allows you to take about 12 images. An add-on card costs between $49 and $220. The lens is high quality, with a range from 35mm to 110mm. This camera felt solid and compact, but has something of a digital delay.

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$400: The Cannon Power Shot S550 with five megapixels allows you to reproduce an 11 by 14 awesome quality print. Lens range is 40mm to 110mm. Also good in the price range: the Nikon Coolpix 4300. (Dick actually bought this one for his wife, real estate agent Linda, but had to buy a wide-angle attachment for an extra $150 for her needs in taking pictures of homes.)

$600: The Cannon G5 offers good contrast in the image. The LCD had multi-angles; the camera is compact and feels good to hold; and it has a hot shoe for an extra flash unit (an extra cost) that helps to get better quality flash photos.

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$1,000: The Cannon Rebel looks and feels like a single-lens refleck or SLR camera as compared to a point-and-shoot camera. It also uses an interchangeable Cannon lens, a big advantage. It comes with an 18mm to 55mm lens; to have a wider angle you'd need to purchase another lens. You also need to purchase a memory card--$49 to $220.

What kind of digital does Dick shoot with? A Fugi Finepix S2, priced at $1,900 for the camera body.

Joe knows: Our salesman recommends these helpful Web sites--Stevesdigicams.com and Tomshardware.com.
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Title Annotation:StreetTalk
Author:Baxter, Rebecca
Publication:Sarasota Magazine
Date:May 1, 2004
Words:495
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