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Digital Photography Nuts and Bolts: Get to Know Your Digital Camera Going Digital? A Buyer's Guide Dos and Don'ts Virtual Photo Fun
Dos and Don'ts
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Dos and Don'ts

Here are some second-tier technology matters to ponder if you're still having trouble narrowing your choices:

Do consider paying more for image stabilization, or "anti-shake" technology. Many new cameras now feature image stabilization (look for the letters "IS" or "AS" in the name) that compensate for shaky hands or long lenses. You'll pay a bit more for the feature, but it's worth it for travelers who are frequently shooting in low-light conditions, like a cathedral or museum interior.

Do choose a camera that accepts a common battery format. Avoid cameras with "proprietary" batteries that will be hard to find while traveling. Pick a camera that uses common "AA" batteries that can be found in any drugstore or airport.

Do buy rechargeable batteries and a charger. Rechargeables cost more to start but you can charge those hundreds of times. If you're getting ready for a lengthy trip abroad, go to Radio Shack and buy a set of plug adapters for foreign AC converters (you don't need a voltage adapter for most chargers, just the plug adapter kit: www.radioshack.com, model #273-1405, $19.95).

Don't skimp when it comes to buying extra memory cards. The price of the two most popular formats of memory cards (CF and SD) is cheap, really cheap, so buy more than you think you'll need. Secure Digital cards, for example, are now as cheap as $5 per gigabyte—enough memory to hold a few hundred photos for a five-megapixel camera. But if you run out, you'll stop shooting or be forced to erase other pictures. So don't run out.

Don't get the biggest unless you really need it. Size, weight, and bulk are serious issues when buying a camera. If you're someone who hates hauling a load through airports and in and out of hotels, don't get a big camera. There is a lot to be said for the less-is-more theory. Remember that you'll probably want to take your camera out to dinner sometimes, and you'll be carrying it with you on those day-long field trips, so don't buy what you don't feel good about carrying.

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