28/12/2007

Which Digital Camera?

Having used several digital cameras I can offer you some key tips:

Get a camera that will take photos, movie clips (with sound)
At least 6 mega pixels - see image size information. The quality of the lens is also important.



Colour LCD screen








Docking Station for recharging lithium battery and / or connecting to computer.








Lithium batteries that can be easily charged and last for several hours. These normally come with a mid priced camera.
Standard cameras will use rechargeable AA batteries.
These will only last for about 30 minutes so you will need to keep other batteries constantly on a recharging unit.

Built in memory
Removable memory cards to extend memory

USB connector (possibly via docking station) to computer
Built in flash
Zoom function - optical zoom is part of the photo. Digital zoom is after the photo has been taken.
Macro function (flower button) for close up. This is very useful around the classroom for taking close up images of children's work.

Movie mode that does not have a limit on size - see section on image size

Built in microphone

Other important features to look for in a digital camera:

Easy to use?
Does it feel intuitive?
Can you use it without having to think too much about how it works?
Does it have or need a docking station?
Does it have a USB cable for connecting to your computer?

Does it come with or need software? If you have Windows XP then your computer will not need software to ‘pick up’ your camera or its memory stick. Some cameras will come with ‘free’ photo editing software. This does not mean that your camera & computer have to use this software. You can continue to use your existing software or the functions within MS Office.
See section on Using Photographs.


Are the symbols obvious?
Try the MODE function.

Size of camera
For classroom use and when out of classroom (trips / school grounds etc) it is best to have as compact a camera as possible. All the above functions can now be contained in a camera that will fit into your pocket.
video
Children’s use of camera
Buy a camera that you don’t mind the children using. You will find that most children are very comfortable with digital cameras. Many will have mobile phones with basic camera functions.
Make sure that children use the hand strap when using a camera.
It is worth having a selection of cameras in school that will suit different purposes.
It is worth giving children some training on the use of digital cameras and the key principles of photography i.e. lighting, focus, and avoiding camera shake etc.