However, not everyone, despite how easy it is becoming, wants to or needs to go digital like this. Not everyone has the time or interest to make a serious lifestyle change such as what can occur when going digital. There are alternatives that will yield the same results.
First, use a traditional "PHD" (Push Here Dummy) auto-everything 35mm camera. Great ones with all zoom, date imprint, various flash modes, timer and more cost about $200. Most photofinishers offer the option to put your photos on a Photo CD in addition to making prints at a nominal cost (usually about $5). Just put the CD in the drive on your computer. The images are suitable for sharing via e-mail and for sharing using a photo sharing Website, or even for importing into programs such as Kodak's EasyShare for Macs and PCs and into Apple's iPhoto.
Inexpensive scanners can scan the standard photos to digitize them with remarkable quality and bring them into the computer to send in e-mail or to share on a photo sharing Website.
Finally, don't forget about the original instant gratification photo device - the Polaroid camera. Their newest, the Mio (www.polaroid.com), delivers wallet-size instant photos. The Mio retails for about $80 with an Instant Print Film Twin Pack of 20 exposures that sells for $20. Even these instant Polaroid photos can be scanned in and digitized for use in the computer and on the Internet.
For those who think they want to go digital, first determine what this camera will be used for - regular or occasional use, trips away from home or more around the neighborhood? Is it for posting on the Internet only or also for making prints. If to make prints, how large — up to 5x7, 8x10 or larger.
For occasional use, cameras that can use standard "AA" alkaline batteries or the more expensive but longer-lasting disposable lithium battery pack are recommended. That way, even if used only a few times a year, the camera is always ready to go and the user will not have to wait for or deal with recharging batteries which do not retain a charge if left unused for weeks or months at a time.
Some cameras use proprietary rechargeable battery packs costing about $50 each, and it's always a good idea to have at least one extra pack if the camera will see regular use. For cameras seeing regular use that use AA size batteries, I use and recommend rechargeable PowerEx brand NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) 1800 mAh (milliamp hours) batteries made by Maha Energy (www.mahaenergy.com), about $35 for charger with four batteries, another $15 for four more batteries.
This is a good time to mention camera cases – users should get one and use it (with rare exceptions). They're handy for holding extra batteries, chargers, lenses, removable memory, cables and connectors and other necessities. Plus, the case protects the camera from banging around, which isn't good for its longevity.
On the other hand, cases can be bulky and cumbersome, so users should get one that isn't overkill for their needs. Using little and rugged pocketable cameras, such as the Canon S200, will do well in a pocket, unprotected, but you'll want to have the case on your trip to store the extras and to keep them together and organized. A satisfying case with a reasonable price and lifetime guarantee to use is Targus (www.targus.com) ($15). Photographers should also investigate the cases provided by the camera manufacturers themselves.
Everyone going digital has to have a computer, so Internet shopping should be easy with some simple guidance. Mr. Gadget recommends shopping for best prices at:
Buy This Book
Before buying a digital camera, Kruschen suggested reading an excellent online synopsis of a $20 book called "A Short Course in Choosing A Digital Camera" (www.shortcourses.com). Everything, and I mean everything is covered.