Subject: A Primer on Digital Cameras for traveling
Finally something I can give back to this wonderful group that has been so great in sharing their travel expertise with us. I am a professional graphic designer and have been using a digital camera for more than 5 years. And yes, you can skip the film folks.

Ira's comments were all right on. I do believe in insurance (or an extended warranty) though. I insure all my computer equipment (including my digital camera) through Safeware who will pay full reimbursement if I drop it, lose it or it is stolen. It is great peace of mind works for my digital and laptop when I have to carry it for business traveling.

In my line of work, I get asked constantly what kind of digital camera to buy. I have these recommendations--

1) Do your homework before you buy. Go to and look at the opinions of real people who use this stuff like you and Ido. I never buy anything, including travel, without checking there first.

2) Make a good first choice because it will influence the cameras you buy for years to come. There are three standards of media in digital photography. And whatever camera you buy will probably use one of them. I went with an Olympus originally (a 1.2 megapixel camera) and that means I invested a bunch in their Smart Media cards. When I went back to buy a new camera (I wanted more megapixels and a smaller camera) I pretty much had to lean towards another Olympus because I already owned way to many Smart Media cards to buy another brand.

3) Go with the camera makers. Any photographer will tell you the most important part of the camera is the lens. Therefore when I first went to look for a digital camera I started with the people who make great film cameras. That made my choices Olympus, Canon and Nikon at the time. Any of these would work great.

4) Size is important. When talking about digital cameras the key word is megapixels. Here's an easy way to understand megapixels. A 1 megapixel camera will produce a great 5x7 print. A 2 megapixel camera will produce a great 8x10 print. A 3 megapixel camera will produce a great 11x14 print and a 4 megapixel camera will produce a superb 16x20 print. All are great for the web. Buy as many megapixels as you can afford. You can always shoot lower when you don't need the big size. But if you are ever thinking about having your photos printed in a book or magazine and cropping them at all, go with at least a 3 megapixel camera.

5) I can recommend any of the digital cameras from Canon or Nikon but my new camera is an Olympus D-40. It is a traveling marvel. It is small enough to fit in the palm of my hand or my shirt pocket. It weights 6.7 ounces and will take stills or very short movies. It runs around $500 but will probably do you superbly for 5 years or so.

6) One of the big things some folks do not like about digital cameras is that you don't get prints you can bore your friends with. But I bore even more friends since I went digital as I can now post the pics on a website. (You can see my latest stuff from our Mexican cruise at I send the address of the website to all my friends and they have the choice to be bored or not. And I can bore people all over the world. And you don't have to have your own website set up. Lots of websites (including AOL and Yahoo allow you to post pictures and order prints from those pics right online. Apple will let you store up to 20 megs online at

7) For my friends at home, I create a slide show that I copy to DVD and run on my television in the living room to bore my local friends. Or to just relive my vacation. I can add narration and music without a problem to the slide show I put on DVD. How do I do it? With a Mac, how else. And it is very easy.

8) Speaking of computers, I only travel with two 128 megabyte Smart Media cards but if I run out of room I can go into any internet cafe with a Firewire equipped computer (I have often gone into computer stores) and upload my pictures to my website ftp or to a server and then I can erase that card and shoot about 100 other pictures.

9) The biggest thing to remember that Ira said in his previous post was to bring extra batteries. Digital cameras are battery hogs. Take whatever charger and adapter you need. My D-40 runs on AAs and can go through an set of energizers in an hour of shooting and viewing.

I hope that helps. If you have any other questions about digital cameras or photography, send them my way. I don't sell them but I do use them constantly and love them.

Jim in Redmond, WA