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Digital Or Film? Consumer Reports Puts Camera Debate Into Focus

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A lot of people want digital cameras this holiday so they will have instant access to pictures, but is that the best option for you? Five On Your Side has a snapshot of camera advice.

More and more people are deciding to dump film cameras and replace them with digital ones.

"I have family in Europe, so for e-mail and things of that sort, it's great to be able to take a picture of the kids in the morning and have it on their computer in England later on that same day," said digital camera owner Matthew Squire.

But is a digital camera right for you? Consumer Reports has been testing them for several years and said these days, digital photos printed on glossy photo paper often look as good as prints from film.

A problem, though, is when digital photos are printed with an inkjet printer and exposed to bright light, they can fade dramatically.

Another drawback is when taking digital pictures, there is a delay between shots. The delay can be anywhere from one second to quite a bit longer.

Consumer Reports said if you are not a computer whiz or if you do not want to deal with printing photos yourself, digital is not for you.

Squire said he still spends hours downloading, cropping and retouching the photos to get them ready to print.

"Digital is OK for someone who is more of a hobbyist and wants to play with the pictures, but if you just want quick snapshots, it's a lot easier to drop the film off at the one hour lab," said Consumer Reports tester Jim Boyd.

That way, the lab does the work and all you have to do is pick up your prints.

Manufacturers are trying to make digital photography easier. With some new printers, you do not even have to turn on your computer to print your pictures. One of Consumer Reports' top-rated photo printers was the Hewlett Packard PhotoSmart for $400.


Monica Laliberte, Reporter
Robert Meikle, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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