Picture This

Q: I’m thinking of purchasing a digital camera, but I’m not sure what to get, a 2- or 4-megapixel. Is there a big difference between the two?
–C.P. Jackson, Danville, New Mexico

A: Many consumers are going digital these days — and with good reason. Digital cameras provide a fun and convenient way to share photos with friends, family, and colleagues, particularly via the Internet. And you now have a wide range of options from 1- to 6-megapixels (in digital photos a pixel is a picture element made up of millions of tiny dots that together create an image).

For beginners, I’d suggest a 2-megapixel digital camera, which provides relatively good quality images. If you succumb to peer pressure and decide to go for a 4-megapixel camera, consider the Olympus C-4040 zoom or the Minolta DiMage S404 (be forewarned, though, the Olympus camera uses nonrechargeable batteries, so you’ll want to keep extras on hand).

While the average digital camera’s resolution doesn’t compare favorably with that of a traditional 35mm, 2-megapixels (2 million pixels per square inch) are adequate for most uses, Web pages, standard 3×5 prints, etc. However, for larger sizes, the image quality degrades. And 4-megapixel cameras won’t improve the image quality significantly enough to justify paying a higher price.

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