Memories are made with these

Should you get a digital camera that has video recording capabilities? How about a video camera that can take still photos?

photography (photo credit: Jason Arthurs/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT)
(photo credit: Jason Arthurs/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT)
The sun is out, the birds are singing and you’re packing up the family car. Memories are made of this, as they say. But how will you remember the memories? Like most of us, you’ll take photos, record video and, if you’re on the “cutting edge,” as so many are today, you might even upload your photos and videos to a blog or your Facebook page, the better to share those memories with the rest of the world.
Naturally, you’ll need some equipment to take those memories – I mean photos and videos – with.
And if your old Brownie or Polaroid needs an update, you couldn’t have picked a better time to be in the market to buy a new camcorder or camera; prices are as great as they get, with Amazon selling some models for joke prices – like this one ( So, if you’ve thought about a new camera, chances are you may have already started looking around.
But even though prices have never been lower, finding the right device has never been harder. Even among low-end buyers like us, who just want a decent camera/video recorder for a decent price, the choices are overwhelming; should you get a digital camera that has video recording capabilities? How about a video camera that can take still photos? Or why buy anything, when your digital phone can take pictures and video, and upload directly to YouTube, with one click? Size, megapixels, lenses – today’s pocket camcorders are often smaller than cameras or even cellphones, and both cameras and cellphones come pretty small these days. Then there are the more “technical” questions – like how many megapixels is enough? Do I really need high-definition video recording if I don’t have an HD television or screen? And how about that phone – is it really not good enough for taking photos and videos on vacation? GOOD QUESTIONS, all. But unfortunately, as a regular camera/camcorder consumer like the vast majority of you, I can’t answer them, at least in a way that camera/video pros would deem “sufficient.”
I certainly can’t tell you which is “the best” one to buy – and, from what I have been reading in on-line forums about different makes and models of each kind of device, the comparisons between them and the relative addition/lack of features in each model, no one can give a definitive answer to that question, although many think they can (more on that later). But fortunately for us photoignoramuses, the Web offers lots of information on what we need – and what we don’t need (more on that later, too) in a camera/camcorder.
There are two ways to go about buying anything as technical as a camera/camcorder, and one of those ways is by educating yourself on the lingo, technology and features available in the digital camera/camcorder universe. Unfortunately, many of the sites that carry what appears to be useful information either cater to advanced users who already have a good knowledge of digital photography, or are scant on useful data, preferring to push an agenda.
One site that you’ll find makes sense to folks like us is Digicam Help (, which explains even advanced topics in photography in a way even beginners can understand.
Before reading any of the other information, check out the sections titled “Camera Features,” “Taking Photos” and “Glossary” for basic information on things you’ve always wondered about, like – what exactly is a megapixel? Once you know what they’re talking about, you can start to actually read reviews of products, check out specifications and understand some of the discussions in on-line forums, with an eye to tracking down what suits you best. One of the best sites for reviews of devices like cameras and camcorders (and almost any other consumer electronic device) is at Cnet (, which lets you view specs, read expert reviews and compare devices.
There are different schools of thought on whether you’re better off with a digital still camera that does video, or a camcorder that lets you snap still photos as well (some of the basics of the debate are laid out at With Cnet reviews, you can choose different items and compare them, point for point, and see if they meet your needs.
The truth of the matter is, there are so many minute details to consider in a camera/camcorder, you can build an amateur career out of it. Which apparently many do, as the fellow who runs this blog ( says, using a very uncomplimentary name for those who spend their days writing Internet critiques of cameras, and naysaying other writers who disagree with them.
He also has an interesting post titled “The Megapixel Myth” (, a self-explanatory title.
All of which brings us back to Amazon (, perhaps the Internet era’s greatest gift to the consumer, even if you never buy a thing from it. Amazon sells just about everything that can be sold, and includes specifications and user reviews in its product description pages. Even taking into account possible bias by reviewers (, Amazon is still an amazing resource for making purchase decisions.
And, if you use a service like Mustop (, you can order cameras/ camcorders that are currently on sale. And in the end, you might just decide that buying “on price” is the way to go – that the camera/camcorder on sale is the right one for you.