RV Toys For Grownups

By Gloria Bryson Pyszka

Did you get a digital camera this holiday season? Yes? You weren’t alone, according to the 2005 Staples Holiday Survey, conducted by International Communications Research.

Digital cameras beat out other popular items like the MP3 players and cell phones to become the number-one technology gift choice. And, they are becoming "must-have-it" toys for exploring RVers, boaters, anglers, and watersports enthusiasts as they enjoy Arizona’s outdoors.

If, by chance, you didn’t get one but would like one, the following reviews and resources can help you make the selection. Digital cameras have changed how we take pictures in a major way.

Using film is ancient history for the average user. Instead, you can take pictures until your finger gets tired of pressing the button. Then, press some more!

What’s really important if you want a "point-and-shoot" digital camera?

"Point and shoot" means that the camera is fully automatic — also known as auto-focus. You just have to learn a few directions beyond pressing the button. It’s not rocket science, folks.

The main criteria an average user might use in choosing a "point and shoot" digital camera follow:

  • at least 5 megapixels (known as MP),
  • 3x or better optical zoom (3x optical is pretty common for many digitals. "Optical" is truly a zoom, unlike the digital zoom.), and
  • compact enough to carry in your pocket (if this feature is important to you).
  • Also, a growing number of "point and shoot" models also let you move beyond the totally automatic feature. They offer easy-to-use, pre-programmed, automatic settings for shots you love to take, such as landscape, closeup, night, sports and children (bodies in motion), etc.
  • With a quick, simple adjustment, you’re ready to shoot.Why use them when auto focus is so handy? The pre-program feature allows the camera to fine tune the camera settings for the most popular shots.
  • Battery life – how many shots can you take before the battery needs recharging? (Be sure to factor in any editing you do as that also draws power.)

Other attributes (and there are more not mentioned here) that may or may not be important to you include the following:

  • LCD (screen) display size,
  • battery type,
  • video clip and video sound,
  • docking station,
  • wireless download, and
  • photo-printer capability.

"How many megapixels does YOURS have?" Heard that lately?

Remember that 5.0 megapixels and a 3x optical zoom lens provide excellent quality these days. While you can inch up a megapixel or two, more may not be necessary for your camera needs or your pocketbook.

Always buy a second battery and a large memory card.

Buy at least a 256 MB minimum or even l GB (gigabyte) card, which means that you can take lots of pics before you have to upload or delete. If your camera has a video function, you may even want 2-gigabyte card.

Thinking about choosing a "point and shoot" digital for boating, snorkeling, skiing, or other sport? You might want to look at what one family did.

My daughter and son-in-law just bought a Canon PowerShot SD 450 Digital ELPH. Described online as an ultra-compact, "JeansPocket" camera, it has 5.0 megapixels, 3x optical zoom lens, plus a very large 2.5 inch LCD monitor that means you can see the picture without having to get out the magnifying glass.

(This is the same shell and specs as previous models SD 500 and SD 400 that are still available, but the SD 450 offers more options).

Truly pocket-sized, it looks nifty, yet is not fragile when using it. I was impressed by the video clip of their twin babes that I saw on the monitor, as well as the still shots.

It allows you to shoot a clip of 640-x480 movie at 30 fps until the SD memory card is full. Best of all? It has an all-weather case to take shots in any weather and sport.

They also bought a large 2-gigabyte SD memory card and an extra battery when they made the purchase online. Their purchase is priced around $280, or higher.

Another waterproof camera is the Pentax Optio WP, ultra-compact, and point-and-shoot.

Resources To Use Before You Buy

  • Your friends – Ask them what they just bought. Are they pleased? Why or why not.
  • Local camera stores — Don’t be afraid of sounding ignorant. Tell them you’re looking for a digital camera that’s easy to use and want their suggestions. If they want your business, they’ll guide you. Hold the models in your hands; look through the lens or the LCD monitor to frame your subject. Go to another store and ask the same questions. Then go on the Web and do some your research. Or, reverse the process and begin with Web research — whichever works for you.
  • Web Resources — There are many Web sites with reviews, recommendations, pricing, etc.
  • Manufacturer Web sites — They always have the latest info on their cameras and features. Usually it’s the mfg. name with the ending of .com/ e.g. www.nikon.com/ or www.canon.com/ or www.casio.com/ and so on.
  • Broad-based research Web sites — Click on links to digital camera reviews, comparative pricing, etc. Look up cameras by "most popular," by brands, price ranges, megapixels, camera type, etc. Here are three, although there are many more, as you probably already know from researching other types of products:




Photography-specific Web sites — There are too many to list. Each of the following includes quick access to categories/reviews by popularity, brand, price range, mega pixels, and other features. Also, articles to educate you along the way.






As a fellow RVer, I know the value of traveling with a camera, and a little research ahead of time can make your purchase the one that is the best for your needs as you photograph some of the highlights of your Arizona experiences.