Find the Right Camera
"You don't have to shell out big bucks if you're going to print snapshot quality, which is what most people do," Ratcliff says. "In the digital world, there's hardly an equivalent to the old point-and-shoot film camera, so it's easy to buy too much camera. Even an inexpensive digital camera has dozens of adjustments and features on it."
Ratcliff recommends that people who don't have a lot of experience with computers or 35 mm cameras buy a digital camera with as few adjustable settings as possible, since learning to operate some of the more complex cameras can seem overwhelming to the novice shooter. "Photography can be very fun and easy, but it is also deceivingly complex," he says. "The more controls a camera has on it, the more experience it takes to work it properly."
He suggests going online to compare prices and features before you purchase a digital camera. The amount of information that a camera card can store is measured in mega pixels, and though the high-end professional cameras can have up to 11 mega pixels and cost thousands of dollars, Ratcliff says the average low-end camera with two to three mega pixels can still cost under $100 and produce high-quality, medium-format images.
"Here's the funny thing," he says. "Even an image from the most expensive camera looks the same on a computer screen as an image from a throw-away camera, since screen resolution is only 72 dpi (dots per inch). If you're not going to be making a lot of prints, you shouldn't spend more than $100 for a camera."