Money Wise--Dealing with Digital Cameras

For those of us looking for a simple point-and-shoot camera, digital has become the overwhelming favorite. But how do you get through all the techno mumbo jumbo to decide which brand is the best buy?

"The bottom line is, if you're a recreational photographer, you really only have to spend $250 to get a really great digital camera that will suit all your needs," said Gary Zukowski, engineering director at the Good Housekeeping Institute.

The institute tested 24 digitals and rated them for a variety of must-have features. "We looked at picture quality, image sharpness, the color clarity," explained Zukowski.

First, Good Housekeeping says don't buy just on the number of megapixels a camera has. More doesn't always mean better. So which digital made the best image? Focus on Fuji. The A-210 with 3.2 megapixels. "Priced at $199.99, really a great deal," said Zukowski.

But for the cameras called easiest to use, a tie. The honors went to both the Kyocera Finecam SL300R and the Sony Cybershot DSC-T1. "It started up in less than a second and was very easy to use in the features it had."

For those who like to get up close from a distance, check out the Panasonic Lumix FZ-10. It had the largest zoom, a whopping 12 times. "What's great about that is you get a true zoom as opposed to what can be done digitally in the software later," said Zukowski.

And for best value, the Good Housekeeping engineers liked the Kodak DX6340, which for $249 also ranked third in picture quality.

Finally, let's face it, money talks even when you're talking pictures. If you want to spend the big bucks, say a thousand dollars, you can get the Canon Eos Digital Rebel. Great pictures and all the bells and whistles a professional would want,. but you can get a basic idiot-proof point-and-shoot digital for only a quarter that amount.

You can find out more about the Good Housekeeping Institute's test of digital cameras on the magazine's website.

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Reported by: Dmitra Denmark,