This is what our camera looks like!
NEW - We saw the new Fuji camera for the first time a few weeks ago
- all the features ours has, plus it HAS a lens cover, it's even smaller,
it's faster, and it does 2.3 million pixels!
A digital camera takes the picture electronically, as a file, and stores it on whichever media the makers have chosen. Our camera has little "smart cards" which are available in different sizes. A 2MB card comes with the camera, and we bought an 8MB card at the same time. We later added one of the new 16MB cards. I believe the Sony models, which are much larger, and much less compact, use regular floppies, which of course will only hold about 5 megapixel images. Our 8MB card holds about 24, while the 16MB card holds 45.
At any rate, the camera stores the image (and there's a display screen on the back - like on some camcorders- where you can view the pictures stored in the camera, and which you can also use instead of the viewfinder when taking pictures, although it uses the battery up faster), and then you can transfer picture to your PC by cable, or by taking the little smartmedia card out, putting it in the floppy disk adapter, and putting it in drive A:\ and copying the pictures to the hard drive. You can also connect the camera to a television, and view them that way. This might be useful on vacation, if you want to get a good look at the pictures to decide what to delete and what to keep (so you'll have more room to take more pictures).
You can edit the pictures on the computer, and then, as you saw, just send them to people, use them as Windows backgrounds (we have a hard time choosing!), or, post them on your web site. You can also print the photos, and we're currently shopping for a good photo quality colour printer at a reasonable price.
Oh yeah, one more thing. The difference between traditional film, digital VGA cameras, & the newer megapixel digital cameras. A good 35mm negative has about 20 million pixels worth of information in it. The best of the digital cameras don't even manage 2 million yet. (Actually, while on vacation in Hong Kong, we saw the new Fuji follow-up to our camera - just over 2 million pixels!). A VGA camera produces a lower resolution, smaller photograph than a megapixel camera. Now, this doesn't mean that a bad 35mm shot is better than a good megapixal image, it all depends on what you want... for web images for example, lower res is better, as they take less space and are faster to load. If you're printing out at 5"x7" or less, you won't see that much difference between film and a good megapixel image (on proper photo paper & no, we haven't tried yet, indeed Chris thinks I'm strange for wanting us to buy a printer). BUT, if you want to make decent enlargements - you need film!
More technical details:
A lot of the following is from the May/June issue of Digital Camera, which Chris picked up in the UK last June; it reviews the Fuji MX-700 in detail (and rated it a "best buy").
We bought the FUJI MX-700, for several reasons; one of which was its small size - 80x101x33 mm. It weighs 245 g, and is made of aluminium alloy. It's small enough to fit in a guy's shirt pocket. It's a 1.5 megapixel camera which delivers true 1024x1280 images. The lens is an autofocus Fujinon (as used in many professional broadcast cameras). It is lacking an optical zoom, but does have a 35mm equivalent with the 9cm macro which does for most photos. There is a 2X digital zoom, but that's pretty pointless, as you can do it better with image processing software after. Exposure is fully automatic with an f3.2/8 aperture and programmed 1/4 - 1/1000th shutter, the only override being the exposure compensation +/- setting. The flash is variable power, although, annoyingly, you have to manually turn it on when in macro mode, as it automatically is disabled. There is also an advanced mode where you can vary the intensity.
Both optical and LCD viewfinders are provided; and the 2" TFT Polysilicon monitor is bright enough for use outdoors (& has a contrast dial to adjust), although you have to shade it when in really bright sun, in order to see the image. The refresh rate is a bit slow though.
The mode dial allows you to select record, erase, playback, setup and manual functions. There's also a rapid shot manual mode for sequential action shots (similar to most point & shoot 35mm's)
There are a few drawbacks. It's slow to turn on, to change modes and to be ready for the next shot - takes at least 5-10 seconds. It is a little awkward in portrait mode, you have to be really careful not to put your finger over the flash. Also, like many of the other digital cameras, it has no lens cover or shutter. We bought the case, which is optional, because of that. Can you imagine the results of it banging about in a purse or knapsack?!
You can choose the rate of compression, and whether you want to take shots in megapixel or vga mode. We haven't experimented with VGA mode yet, but we do plan to take some comparison shots.
It comes with an AC adapter and one rechargeable lithium battery - you can buy more batteries, and a separate recharger, but we haven't chosen to, as of yet. It comes with transfer software, and with some basic editing software, as well as PhotoDeluxe2.
And of course, digital cameras are still an expensive toy. Our package was about $1,000 with extra 8MB card and camera case.