My in-laws are staying with us over Christmas, and my mother-in-law asked which digital camera to buy. "Everyone seems to have one these days," she used as her excuse. No kidding; two strips in last week's color comics featured digital cameras.
By coincidence, FutureShop has one on sale that I would recommend for her: Canon SD1000 for $189. On top of that price, she'll have to add 13% sales tax, an environment levy, and another $25 or so for a 2GB memory card.
Here's why I picked it:
-- small size, but not as small as the ELPH series, which are too small. And thinner than Canon's A-series.
-- relatively large LCD screen (2.4 inches), important for aging eyes.
-- 3x zoom, the minimum acceptable level. 6x would be better, but then she'd be getting the larger A- or PowerShot series.
-- quality by Canon. Low-cost cameras from other companies can have image problems or difficult user interfaces.
-- optical viewfinder: important when it is too sunny to use the LCD screen.
-- LiIion battery. It gets charged in the camera, so swapping AA batteries is not an issue.
"How many pictures will it hold?" she wondered. About 400-600, depending on the settings. She could take pictures all year long, and then the next time I see her, I could put the pictures on the computer for her.
And that's the problem with digital cameras. She has an old Windows ME computer, and I don't even know if this Canon will work with it. Does the computer even have USB ports? If so, they'd be the slow v1 type. Privately, I worried that her digital camera might end up like the DVD player we gave her one year for Christmas: unused, because it is too hard to figure out -- all those wires and tiny buttons.
Film cameras don't have that problem. She could bring the entire film camera to the photo processing place, they can take out the film for her, and in an hour hand her back the prints. Negatives are filed in a shoe box. On that thought, I suppose she could bring the entire digital camera to London Drugs, and let them get the JPG files off the memory card, place them on a CD, and/or print them out.
(One of last week's cartoons features Cathy ready to make Christmas gifts from her digital photos. Except then she gets frustrated by having so many digital photos on her computer that she can't find the right one.)
"Well, I might need a new computer then," she said. "I'd just have to replace the monitor, right?" Um, no. The monitor was one of the parts she'd keep. "It's this box" -- I pointed to a computer case in the FutureShop flyer -- "that you need to replace. They're $400-$600." On the other hand, there are some pretty cheap computer packages with nice big LCD screens.
"And I can erase the pictures I don't like?" Yup.
"It's so handy to be able to see your pictures right away," she concluded.