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HOW TO BUY: a Point-and-Shoot
Computer Shopper

Point-and-shoot cameras promise sharp shots at the touch of a button, making them the best choice for amateurs. These digicams come in a dizzying array of pixel counts, features, and prices. Here's how topick the perfect one.



Digital cameras are often classified by the number of pixels the image sensor can capture, which largely determines photo quality. Morepixels means better resolution. For basic shooting, or printing sharp images up to 11x17 inches, look for a model with at least 6 megapixels. If you want to crop images or make larger prints, aim for modelsstarting at 8 megapixels.


Look for a model with at least a 3x optical zoom, more if you needto capture distant action. Ignore digital-zoom specs--a digital-zoomfunction simply enlarges a portion of the image without increasing actual resolution, leading to quality loss.


A good point-and-shoot model will include a variety of scene modesthat automatically select the optimal settings for various lighting conditions, such as candlelight or sunsets, letting even beginners take great pictures.


Some cameras use only a proprietary rechargeable battery; better are models that can accept standard-format rechargeable or disposable batteries, so you can swap in spare cells in a pinch. Also, consider a model that employs a storage-card format shared by other devices you own--you can share cards between gadgets.



Samsung Digimax L60

(, $199)

A budget model, the 6-megapixel L60 offers solid performance and good picture quality in a lightweight, easy-to-pocket package. It offers a bundle of image settings, including Ii scene modes for the casual shooter, though more-advanced photographers might find the cam lacking.


Kodak EasyShare C875

(, $249.95)

With 8-megapixel resolution, a 5x zoom lens, and plenty of manual controls, Kodak's EasyShare C875 delivers high-end features at a low price. It's a fine choice for anyone who wants speedy performance, high-quality images, and broad control.


Canon PowerShot SD800IS

(, $499.99)

Canon's 7.1-megapixel SD800IS screams style with its slick, curvy design, but it's the 3.8x zoom wide-angle lens with image stabilization that really steals the show. Plus, thanks to Carton's latest imageprocessor, the DIGIC III, the SDS00IS pumps out beautiful shots at arapid pace.

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