Last Christmas, I asked for a digital camera card for our compact, point-and-shoot type of camera. It got it. I holds thousands of digital photographs of our family, things we see and do, and places we go. This is a very good thing, and kind of a bad thing. You see, sometimes, it takes me literally months to download the pictures from our little digital camera to the computer. This is bad.
If we lose the camera, we lose months of pictures. If I let a backlog of hundreds (or more) pictures form, then chances are good that they don’t get tagged and filed properly. Fortunately, I do have Adobe Bridge (which I do not recommend, but can’t find a better replacement for) setup so that as files are imported from the camera, they go directly into subfolders named for the “shot date” which is the date the pictures were taken. So, with each download, there is at least some small amount of organization taking place. Still, unless I remember that we went up to Estes Park on March 23rd, it’s going to be hard to find those pictures in a year or two.
As a parent, I highly recommend getting several digital cameras if you can swing it. First, you want a cellphone with a really good camera. No matter how much you think you will carry around a camera, you will never carry it around as much as your cellphone. So many of those special moments of your kids and family are unexpected, and just as many of them occur under “normal” circumstances where you wouldn’t think to bring your camera with you. You don’t want to miss those shots.
Second, I highly recommend getting a small, compact camera. I keep reading various technology types talk about how you don’t need a separate digital camera anymore. I don’t know who these people are, or what they are thinking. Cellphone cameras are not good enough to take pictures of your kids when they are doing things, like moving. Maybe the people that write this stuff don’t have cute kids, or maybe they don’t move.
I have a Samsung Galaxy S4 cell phone. It has a highly regarded camera and it takes great pictures when it is all I have available. However, it is garbage compared to my little Sony. First, off, my kids move. Cell phone cameras do not have very fast shutter speeds.
Scratch that. Cellphone cameras have fast shutter speeds, but they need A LOT of light to use them, as in outdoors, during the day. Granted, a fair amount of stuff happens in those circumstances. But, just as often, stuff happens inside, stuff happens at night, and stuff happens while running. Cellphone cameras produce poor, often blurry shots under these conditions. Mine has a flash, but the flash isn’t very quick and it doesn’t recharge very quick either. If I put four kids on a bench, face them at the camera and tell them to smile, we’re in business. If I want a shot of four kids spontaneously, climbing over the back of grandma’s couch on the way to get fudge, no dice.
We have a little Sony Cybershot DSC-WX150. It’s a good little camera and reasonably quick. It’s flash works fast and it does a decent job without it when it has to. I have noticed that it takes its best photos on the automatic setting. This is good for us since this camera is really about fast candid photos of our children and the things we see and do. It’s small enough to fit in my wife’s purse or clip to a belt buckle. I take it whenever I expect “stuff,” like when we go to the zoo or a museum, or to Grandma’s house, or whatever. It takes fast, candid pictures with a better flash and a faster recovery time than any cellphone camera I’ve ever seen, including the iPhone.
Finally, I do recommend a full-size digital SLR camera. If you aren’t familiar with cameras, an SLR camera is the kind that has a lens on the front that you turn to focus. It’s usually black and has a way to attach new lenses or an external flash, or whatever. These cameras tend to be too big for every day use, but are invaluable for shooting posed pictures (especially on a tripod) for the absolute best quality. They are also much better at long range zoom in order to pictures of that mountain goat, or whatever that your kids saw out of the window. We have a Canon Rebel digital SLR, although both Canon and Nikon are equally respected. You can go crazy buying an SLR-type camera, but unless photography is a hobby of yours, you don’t need to. These things take great pictures under any circumstances.
Most important of all, don’t forget to save your photos, and then back them up somewhere. You don’t want a hard drive crash, or computer crash taking all of your priceless photographs with you. I just bought an external hard drive for backups. It just plugs in via USB, and then you can copy the pictures like it was another folder on your computer. It was $70 at Wal-Mart and it hold 2 TB, or something like that, which is plenty of space for every phone on my computer. They cost more if you want a “slim” one or really small, portable one, but if you don’t plan on lugging it around with you, save some money, or get a bigger size.