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Gift Guide for Geeks 2003: Share

Volume Number: 19 (2003)
Issue Number: 11
Column Tag: Review

Gift Guide for Geeks 2003: Share

by Ilene Hoffman

The gadgets to help you share those moments of life

How often do you take pictures at a gathering, and promise to send copies of the prized photos to the other folks? Do these copies ever make it to your friends and family? My guess is no.

So, my first gift recommendation is, of course, a nicely priced digital camera. Generally speaking, you can't go wrong if you buy a digital camera from any of the major companies, such as Canon, Olympus, Nikon, Fuji, Pentax, or even Sony. I own old Fuji and Olympus digital cameras, and I've been very happy with both of them. I also own Olympus, Nikon and Pentax film cameras, but won't buy another Olympus film camera. Three of the Olympus film cameras I've owned didn't make it past the second year of use without breaking. My basic Olympus Stylus, with a glass lens has performed well and I recommend it highly for a little travel camera (about $80).

Olympus digital cameras seem a bit more robust and with their zoom capabilities are more versatile. My Dad swears by his. Nikon's Coolpix digital cameras are highly praised by their owners (and I know quite a few). One of the recent Nikon CoolPix cameras, the 5400, is particularly nice. It is practically a professional grade camera, with a full range of functions, as well as add-ons and lenses. The 5400, however, doesn't quite fall into the nicely priced category. I've found the Fuji digital cameras to perform exceptionally well in poorly lit situations.

The bottom line is, you need to try the cameras out at a store prior to buying. I'm very picky about the eye piece and prefer Nikon's viewfinders. You should also look for a digital camera that is has at least a 3 mega-pixel resolution, so that you can produce good looking prints. Lower resolution cameras are ok for posting onto the Internet, but you can't really edit them to produce a decent 4 x 6 close up shot. A 3-megapixel camera can produce a good 8 x 10 photograph, if needed. Digital Camera HQ has a comparison page of many 3 mega-pixel cameras at:

Although, I'm usually not prone to recommending stores, I do want to make note that the Ritz Camera chain has an honorable 30-day money back guarantee, even on expensive cameras. Most retailers only have a 7 to 10 day return policy.

Figure 1: The File menu of RunRevVeez

If you have a digital camera, there's an easy solution to the "Where's that photo you promised me?" problem, which is my second gift recommendation. Hewlett Packard makes this little 2.9 pound printer that is a mere 9.1" x 4.4" x 4.9," so it can fit into computer bag easily. The HP Photosmart 245 compact photo printer has built-in slots for every type of digital media (CompactFlash, Microdrive, SmartMedia, Secure Digital, MultiMedia, Memory Stick, and xD-Picture Card). The built-in 1.8-inch LCD screen allows you to scroll through your pictures, do basic editing, and pick and choose your prints. A contact sheet with tiny thumbnails is also a print option. Basically, you just plug in the printer, pop in your media, hit print, and you're good to go. Can it get any easier than that?

The printer is fast, convenient, prints excellent quality pictures on Epson and HP 4" by 6" photo paper, and is one of the simplest printers to set up that I've ever used. It is a little pricey with a $199.99 MSRP, but if you want to forego the LCD display, you can get the Photosmart 145 for $149.99. The LCD screen makes the stand-alone unit more usable, though. Both models also connect to your computer with a USB cable that you supply.

Sharing those captured moments of life is always a great gift, and giving, or getting, the cool tools to do it is even better. Nearly any digital camera, and one of these printers, will turn you into a one person, photo producing machine in no time.

Ilene Hoffman


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