The lowdown on digital cameras

What is it? A camera that takes still pictures, and sometimes video recordings, electronically, rather than using film.

What are the advantages? You don't need to purchase or develop film, for one thing. But perhaps the biggest advantage is that a digital camera is an expansion of your personal or network computer. Images are instantly available on the camera, a PC monitor or television. You can easily create images for Web sites or print publications without having to scan them, and you can e-mail the images.

What are the disadvantages? Except with high-end cameras, digital images are not as detailed as film images. And while you save on film, the expenses for photo printer, ink and paper quickly add up.

Extra features? Some models offer settings for snow, foliage, sunsets, sports or other special uses. Other options include audio/video recording and an option to take sepia or black-and-white images.

Must-know info? You are not buying a camera but a system. Consider how you are going to store, print and manage photos before making a purchase.

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