Digital cameras have become a staple of the classroom. And, as with all other technologies, prices have dropped and features have improved over the years. What can you now expect from a digital camera? We look at cameras in the $200-to-$400 range.
Sony's new DSC H50 provides over 9 megapixels, has a 15x optical zoom, as well as a 3-inch tilting LCD screen. With a street price of about $350, Sony also claims it has face detection capability, basic in-camera editing, and the H50's flash can light up objects as far as 55 feet away. www.sonystyle.com
Kodak's Easyshare Z and V series ($200 to $300) offer between 7 and 12 megapixels and 3X to 12X optical zoom, depending on the specific model. Some offer touch-screen controls, HD pictures, and video. One popular feature of Kodak cameras for a number of years has been the availability of docks: place the camera in the dock, press a button, and photographs are easily transferred to your computer. http://cameras.kodak.com
The Casio Exilim Card EX-S10 ($249) has 10.1 megapixels, a 3X optical and 4X digital zoom, and a very thin body. Special features include face detection, voice recording, and a YouTube(tm) Capture Mode (which sets up the camera for recording movies that are optimized for uploading to YouTube—nice feature for home, less useful for schools, most of which block YouTube). The camera is available in four colors. www.casioeducation.com/
The Nikon Coolpix S series ($200 to $300) consists of slim cameras offering vibration reduction (a nice feature for young children) as well as at least 8 megapixels. The S600, specifically, is a 10 megapixel, 4X wide-angle lens camera with a fast start-up time (according to Nikon's research) and an "active child mode" for taking shots of moving children (or anything else—another good feature for schools). www.nikonusa.com
The Stylus series ($200 to $300) is a popular choice from Olympus. Deborah Hargroves of the Massie Heritage Center (Savannah, GA) says her favorite is her Olympus Stylus 720 SW. "Its lightweight, slim design makes it easy to carry with me in my pocket anywhere I go." It is shockproof and waterproof (good classroom attributes!), offers 7.1 megapixels, has a 3x optical and 5x digital zoom, and simple in-camera editing capability (such as red eye fix), built-in flash, and the ability to print without a computer (when using a PictBridge enabled printer). www.olympusamerica.com
The PowerShot Digital Elph series ($200 to $400) offers up to 12 megapixels (depending on model), 4x digital zoom, compatibility with a number of memory card types, and the ability to shoot short videos. Dan Downs (MS 266, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY) says the PowerShot 520a is "affordable and easy to use"; he uses 10 in the art classes he teaches. See sample projects from his classes at www.teachersnetwork.org/, product information at www.usa.canon.com.