One area of the Information Age that has truly taken off is digital photography. Unlike its analog counterpart, which decades earlier began with the professionals and trickled its way down to the consumer, digital photography has a firm hold on consumers and is slowly trickling its way up to the professional. The reasoning is simple: digital cameras cannot yet compete with film on a quality scale, but by their very nature are perfect for the consumer-level happy snapper.
Some advantages are immediately clear - regardless of the camera cost, you never have to pay to get film developed again, or fork out for new rolls. If you want hard copies you can get them printed at photo houses or buy your own photo printer, but electronic distribution of photos to family and friends is de rigueur these days.
Digital cameras provide instant gratification. With LCD preview screens you can discard unfocussed, unframed and uninteresting shots seconds after taking them, and even if your shots aren't quite as you imagined, you can easily tweak them on a PC. As CCD and CMOS sensor quality improves, so does the digital still camera's march on film. For just under two grand you can net a 5-megapixel camera which is capable of stunning quality, and you'd be surprised at what a mere $300 can net for your virtual album.
We asked top manufacturers to submit cameras across the full range from budget conscious consumer models, to high-end enthusiast's cameras. We've given each model the full PC Authority going over, and have selected some real beauties from an excellent ensemble of cameras.
This Group Test appeared in the June, 2003 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
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