Selecting a digital camera can be more confusing than using one. Here are some facts about pre-purchase concerns.
Size. Don't buy bulky equipment. The camera you can slip into your pocket is the one you'll take and use every day.
Resolution. A 2-mega-pixel camera produces excellent 4x6 prints, good 8x10 prints, and is more than enough for Internet or e-mail applications. Similarly, a 3-mega-pixel camera produces excellent 8x10 prints, good 12x16s, and so on.
Storage. Buy enough -- a 128MB memory card (roughly $100) is big enough to store dozens of 640x480 pixel still images as well as multimedia clips. How many you can store varies wildly based on image size and image compression. Don't worry about the format of the card -- they all work fine.
Zoom. Many cameras list both "optical" and "digital" zoom. The optical number is the only one you care about when comparing specs. Digital zooms degrade image quality and are more of a marketing gimmick. For example, every 2x digital (electronic) zoom cuts image resolution and clarity in half.
Battery power. Some digital cameras use rechargeable batteries, which tend to run out of juice when you need it most. Buy extra batteries with the camera.
Multimedia options. Many newer cameras record brief audio-video clips, great for adding voice notes when walking an estimate or punch list or capturing testimonials for future sales presentations. Most cameras now have this feature. You'd have to buy low-end not to get it. --Joe Stoddard, a technology consultant to the construction industry, can be reached at email@example.com.