Features

Powerful pixels

Technology | Digital cameras increase quality while dropping price

Issue: "Unions: Dues and don'ts," Nov. 30, 2002

Retailers expect digital cameras to be hot sellers this Christmas. Prices have come down to the point that customers can buy sophisticated models for between $200 and $350.

The digital camera appeals to both photo and computer enthusiasts and combines the coolness of sleek gadgets with the practicality of not having to develop pictures. Happily for the electronics industry, they appeal to both men and women.

Camera power is measured in megapixels, each of which represents a million tiny dots of color. More megapixels mean more clarity and detail. The price for pixels has fallen as camera popularity has grown. Also, many owners will want to replace their old cameras from the 1990s, whose resolution was below one megapixel.

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Many manufacturers want more people to migrate from film to digital cameras. Sony, for example, has two new Cyber-shot U models for the Christmas crowd, the DSC-U10 ($200 for 1.3 megapixels) and DSC-U20 ($270 for 2.0 megapixels).

The sweet spot on resolution seems to be three megapixels. John Stewart, author of the e-book Finding the Picture Perfect Digital Camera, says that one megapixel resembles "110 cartridge film cameras" and that two megapixels can generate great 4 x 6 prints. For larger sizes, at least another megapixel is necessary.

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