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How to choose the best digital camera

June 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
If you're in the market for a new digital camera, you don't have to spend a lot of money to get a decent camera with a lot of good features. Some top-rated cameras are a snap to use.Many consumers think the higher the pixel, the better the digital picture. But unless you're a professional photographer, most digital cameras on the market these days take pretty good pictures. Eyewitness news teamed up with Consumer Reports to find the best ones for the money.

Click here to watch video of Ric Romero's report on digital cameras

If you've ever tried to capture a toddler's smile, you know how many shots you can take before you get the perfect picture. While many cameras offer face recognition, a handful now have "smile technology." Consumer Reports tests this feature to see if it delivers.

Using a "smile wall," testers check each camera to see how good it is at recognizing a grin. It turns out smile recognition works pretty well.

"We think it's a very cool feature. You set the smile mode, select the face, press the shutter, and the camera actually waits until the person smiles to take the photo," said Paul Reynolds from Consumer Reports.

The delay when you press the shutter is another important consideration. You want a camera that responds quickly, so you don't miss the moment. Testers time how long it takes each camera to snap a shot.

And since real life isn't always perfectly lit, a camera that can handle bright and low light is key. In a new test, Consumer Reports assesses how well a camera captures variations in brightness in a single picture.

"If you're taking a photo that has bright light and dark shadows in it, this test will show how well the camera will capture the extremes of light in the same image," said Reynolds.

Consumer Reports found several great options, including the $280 Sony Cybershot DSC-T70. It has a very quick shutter response and a big LCD display, along with smile recognition.

If you want to spend a little less, Consumer Reports says the Canon PowerShot A720 IS is another good choice. It lacks some bells and whistles, like smile technology, but you'll get a viewfinder and very good image quality for the bargain price of $180.

Click here for more buying advice for digital cameras from Consumer Reports

 

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