The digital camera we now have is a Canon PowerShot S45. When I was looking up digital cameras I had the following requirements:

  • Had to be small enough to carry around with me to concerts, on walking trips and to work.
  • Had to have a decent resolution, 4 megapixel or better. – Pixel’s are the units used to describe how big each image will be when placed onto a computer screen – the more pixels, the bigger the image and the more detail there will be in the image. A 1 megapixel camera has ~1000000 pixels per image. A 4 megapixel camera will provide images that can be made into 7” x 5” prints at optimum quality*. To get the same quality as a film camera a digital camera needs to have better than 12 megapixels per image (or so the experts say).
  • Good specifications, including a zoom lens, manual controls (Aperture/Shutter priority), film speed selection, white balance options and good construction.
  • Also needed good battery life.

The S45 fits all of these criteria. When I was doing the research it was the Canon PowerShot S40 that came top of the pile, the S45 is the S40’s recent replacement. The S45 is a 4 megapixel camera with a 3x optical zoom, full manual controls, quality construction (feels quite solid and the case is a mix of hard plastic and brushed metal) and the battery life isn’t too bad. The camera comes with a 32 megabyte memory card, which will hold about 10 images at the highest quality setting, or about 28 at the next setting down (which is what I have been using). I also bought an extra battery, extra memory card (128MB) and a small case. All up the camera and extras cost £550. The camera itself was £450, which is close to the cheapest it can be bought for in the UK. Most cameras seem to be cheaper in the USA, but importing one would have added enough to the cost to make it not worthwhile.

A full review of this camera can be found here, they have explanations for all the technical terms and will do a better job of explaining things than I can.

* I’ll try and explain the digital photo to printed image formula. When something is printed to the page the measurements used are Dots Per Inch, or dpi. Photos are printed at 300dpi, so for every inch on the page there are 300 dots making up the image. A pixel is basically a dot, so when we print out an image at optimum quality from a digital photo we will be printing out 300 pixels per inch.

The S45, at maximum resolution, provides images of 2272 x 1704 pixels (2272 x 1704 = 3871488 pixels which is nearly 4 megapixels). So, when one of these images is printed out at 300dpi we divide the pixel amount for the width and height by 300 to get the printed dimensions in inches. So, a maximum resolution S45 image printed at 300dpi will produce an image of 7.57” x 5.68”.

It is possible to print images at a lower dpi level, 150 and 200dpi are common. Most people looking at images printed at these levels won’t notice much if any difference from a 300dpi image, and the actual printed size will be much larger.

dpi printed size
300 7.57 x 5.68
200 11.36 x 8.52
150 15.14 x 11.36

We have an Epson Photo Stylus 830, which is Epson’s cheapest photo printer (it cost us £99, though it has been on sale for £76 recently). It prints out photo quality prints and the prints I did over the weekend at 300dpi from the digital camera are amazing.

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