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Digital Cameras The State of the Art!

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/23/2006 | Hobbies
Digital cameras have come of age in the last two years. Once a new fangled way to take images that were going up against the standard film cameras in the marketplace and meeting with consumer resistance, and now digital has become the king of the mountain in photography. Digitals only competition for the consumers hearts is the ubiquitous mobile phones equipped with cameras (both still and video).

Side note -- have you been at any mass events of late (concerts, rallies, speeches, sports events) and seen how many people are using their mobile phones to take images? I was at a concert recently and witnessed over 5000 people taking mobile phone pictures at the same time. Amazing. Not sure if many of them actually do anything with their images but it was still impressive to see that many people snapping images at the same time.

How can we say that? Well one just has to look at the facts from the industry itself. The number one digital camera seller for over a year and a half now in the USA has been Kodak. Yes that is right, Kodak, the giant film photography company has transformed itself in the face of a disaster that was a digital wave coming their way. Several years ago Kodak was a film company, a huge film company, and here comes digital photography and the consumers were going wild for it.

Can you imagine the bonus that was paid to the Kodak executive or executives who had the foresight to demand that the company adopt a digital strategy instead of standing firm on their film based roots? Now granted Kodak is still a huge player in the film business (which has not gone away by any means) but they have done a marvelous job of creating a consumer product line in the digital camera arena. These products are super user friendly and they take great images to boot. The Kodak EasyShare cameras are number one in the USA and number three world wide behind Sony and Canon. Not bad for an old generation industrial giant. They have turned the ship to take advantage of the prevailing winds of the digital age.

Now in the middle of this decade digital camera technology is easier than ever for consumers to use. The cameras come ready to take great images, allow novice users to snap photos without learning all the bells and whistles they offer, and most of them have made it super easy to share, print or email photos to friends and family. Many cameras feature one button to push in order to share or print an image, now it doesn't get much easier than that.

You can spend from 100 (or less but I am not sure I would go there) all the way up to the top of the line at 3200 for the top of the line digital SLR camera for your imaging needs. Some of the best current models on the market include the new Canon E5D SLR at the high end of the cost scale at around 3200, the ultra slim Sony Cyber Shot DSC-T5 which is compact and makes a fashion statement to boot, the super easy to use and share images Kodak Easy Share One, and for great price to quality you can't beat the Fuji FinePix F10 at around 350.

One potential problem with digital cameras has recently to light and some manufacturers have issued service advisories to owners of some digital camera models with regard to a problem in a chip called the CCD or charged couple device. In the defective chips pictures often appear distorted, have a colorcast that appears gray or purple, or appear completely black. Now this is not a huge industry problem most of the models with the defective chip are over a year old. Therein lies the interesting nugget with regard to the changing nature of the digital business.

Industry specialists now estimate that digital cameras have a life cycle of about a year. That means that new product is constantly coming onto the scene to replace the old technology and consumers are supporting that by buying newer and fancier cameras as they are released each year. So a chip problem comes on to the scene but it is eclipsed by the fact that the market is moving so fast that it almost doesn't matter. However if you should be one of the owners of a digital camera with a defective CCD you can get help from your camera manufacturer. Visit the Consumers reports website for details on the recall and service advisories that have been issued. www.consumerreports.org

Now of course there have to be new services that benefit form the digital camera wave. The local corner film shop may have disappeared but the printer companies have found a new heaven in the market. Color printers, the ink to fill them (find a bargain or perish...), paper, and image printing services both offline and online are proliferating in the digital age. One of the big online digital printers was bought up by Kodak themselves in order to help garner a share of online digital image printing business. My current favorite new find for image printing supplies is Cartridge World. They recycle printer cartridges and then give a good price on the refilled ones. Saving the Earth a bit and making it easier to print more great digital images, now that seems like a good step forward.