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"It's a myth," said Mastrorocco, of the link between cameras and computers. "Just take the camera to a local store, and they can remove the chip and develop prints."

To learn the ins and outs of digital gear, however, Nature and Wildlife Photographers' President Lou Buonomo suggests a beginner's class or camera club. Most camera shops, senior centers and libraries offer basic-level lessons that explain everything from camera functions to e-mailing images.

Where to learn

"There's a lot of learning opportunities to be found on Long Island," said Buonomo, who said one-third of his 93 members are older than 55, and all use digital cameras.

"Whatever your goal in shooting, just have fun and don't be afraid to ask questions," urged Senzatimore, who said he picked up digital skills through trial and error. "Everyone has different learning curves, so buy what you can afford and stay patient."

Where to buy digital cameras

Here are tips, from photo experts on Long Island, on where to buy a digital camera:

Local camera retailers. It may be the priciest option, but a good store with a trustworthy staff can help you find the right camera for your needs. "For first-time buyers, this is the best bet," said Stephen Mastrorocco, the president of Long Island Photography Inc.

Discount stores: Retailers such as Circuit City, Best Buy and Wal-Mart offer good prices, especially if you can catch a sale, but be careful. While some salespeople might have photo knowledge, others are often learning on the job. "Know your needs before you shop," said Jerry Small, a photographer and owner of Photographic Creations, Inc. in Bellmore.

Online outlets: Best buys are usually online, and two of the more popular retailers are and Most online stores have a customer-review section that lets buyers hear what others have to say. If you visit an auction site, such as eBay, make sure to buy from a vendor with a good rating. - Michael R. Ebert

Glossary: What's a ...jpeg?

Here's a glossary of digital camera features:

Autofocus: A mode that

automatically focuses on the subject in the center of the viewfinder.

Image stabilization: A feature that steadies an image and compensates for vibrations, such as shaky hands.

jpeg: The most commonly used format for digital images, which is compatible with computer browsers, viewers and image-editing software.

LCD (Liquid-crystal display): The electronic screen that provides a live feed of the scene to be captured.

Megapixel: A measure of resolution that reflects the camera's ability to record detail. The more megapixels an image contains, the more it can be enlarged without losing clarity.

Point-and-shoot: A setting that offers few manual controls by making adjustments automatic. All the owner needs to do is aim and push the shutter button.

SLR cameras: The most expensive of digital models, offering total manual control, higher resolution, advanced exposure control, and the use of detachable lenses.

Storage card: Removable devices that hold photos.

USB (Universal Serial Bus): A system for transferring data to and from digital devices. Many digital cameras and memory-card readers connect to a computer's USB port.