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Choosing a Digital Camera

One of the most common questions we are asked is "Which digital camera should I get?"

The answer is always "It depends"

Choose your camera for your situation.
Who will use the camera and how will the images be used?

Consider the difference needs for:

  • Professional/Artistic
  • Whole School
  • Single Teacher
  • Classroom
  • Student Use
  • Grade Level

What you need to look for is a camera with features that will meet your needs.  If you need to take professional quality pictures then you will need to find a camera with the ability to make proper control adjustments (e.g. f-stop, aperture, shutter speed, etc.), the ability to have lens attachments, and will also take high quality (large mega pixel) images.  A camera appropriate for  the whole school would be used by a variety of teachers, staff, and maybe students so it would need to be easy to use, require very little in the way of software and not have too many cables or parts to get lost.  The classroom only camera would be chosen to meet your technical needs and abilities, if you were planning on taking a lot of pictures at a time you might need a camera with a large memory (or the ability to expand).  Student use cameras should be among the easiest to use with few control, few moving parts and rugged in ability.  A camera that might be appropriate for a young child, such as one with a peep site and will hold only a few images, might not be suitable for an older child who needs more controls, more images, and better quality.

Below are some of the standards that as a teacher I feel are important in my digital camera choice.  I have found that over the years one of the most used features on my camera have become the video out feature, bypassing the computer totally.  Many a time in my class have we taken images and then connected the digital camera to the television to share the images with the class.  Also a common battery format can make your life much easier.  All the digital cameras that I get now run off of AA alkaline batteries (or Nickel Metal Hydrides), because no matter where you are when your batteries go dead, you are most likely not too far away from being able to buy some AA batteries.

Some suggested minimum standards

  • Active LCD screen
  • Good amount of internal image storage
  • Video out
  • Flash (controllable)
  • Good battery life
  • Common battery format
  • Simple controls

Nice extras

  • AA batteries
  • View finder
  • Able to take movies
  • Able to take panoramas
  • Live video out
  • Show format (slide show)
  • Two way transfer
  • USB (or other high speed equivalent)

Digital cameras in education

2006 Drs.Cavanaugh