There are three distinct advantages of digital cameras: the capability to see the final image right away, the ability to take one picture and print it without waiting to develop the entire roll of film, and the digital film or memory card is reusable. Not only do you save on film developing, you never have to buy another roll of film again. Some of the major features to consider when purchasing a digital camera are: resolution in megapixels (MP), optical vs. digital zoom, storage media, battery duration, and size.
The resolution determines the maximum size of a printed photo without sacrificing its quality. As demonstrated in the table below, the higher the resolution, the better the results.
Resolution High Quality Print Size(s) up to Acceptable Quality Print Size(s) up to
2 MP 1600 x 1200 4 x 6 & 5 x 7 8 x 10
3 MP 2048 x 1536 8 x 10 10 x 13
4 MP 2272 x 1704 9 x 12 12 x 16
5 MP 2592 x 1944 10 x 13 13 x 19
Regarding the camera’s zoom, the optical zoom is the real resolution of the lenses and the one that matters most. The digital zoom is an interpolated resolution computed by camera’s software. The higher the optical number, the better.
When choosing a digital camera, opt for one that stores the images on a flash memory card. Some cameras store images on mini CD-R discs, which require the consumer to continuously purchase new CDs when the old ones fill up. Also, remember that the storage card that comes free with the digital camera is typically undersized. Plan on purchasing a card with a larger storage capacity when you buy the camera.
The last two features are purely about preference. First, some digital cameras use AA batteries while others require proprietary rechargeable batteries. In either case, it is beneficial to have an extra set of batteries so that while one battery is in use, the other can be charging. Next, digital cameras come in an assortment of sizes that range from convenient credit card equivalents to full body SLRs (single lens reflex). The art therapist must decide which features are most important and appropriate for his/her setting. Automatic point-and-shoot digital cameras range from $100 to $700 while digital SLRs start at $700.