The editors at PC World magazine rank point-and-shoot and advanced cameras for monthly top 10 lists. For current features, prices and an explanation of how the magazine tests, please check its Web site. Top 10 Digital Cameras Top 10 Digital Cameras, Advanced
If figuring out which digital camera to buy can be overwhelming, so can the choice of how to share and print the images.
Inkjet printers have improved in quality while prices continue to come down. Retailers are offering fast and affordable printing that compares with film-printing quality. And online services make it easy to sit at a computer and handle everything.
And as digital photography continues to grow in popularity, more options are appearing. Among the latest:
- ShareALot (www.sharealot.com) is a free service that connects senders and recipients directly. To send a picture, a user drops a photo into a folder on his PC or Mac, and it automatically appears in folders on the PCs or Macs of friends he's designated as recipients.
- OurPictures (www.ourpictures.com) costs $19.95 a year for one user (a free 30-day trial is available) for organizing, sharing and printing photos. After a camera or memory card is plugged into the Windows computer, pictures automatically transfer into the program. The program can be set up to send pictures automatically or with a few clicks.
- PhotoSite (www.photosite.com) lets shutterbugs upload pictures to a publicly available Web site using a program that includes basic editing and resizing functions. PhotoSite has a free basic version (up to 150 photos) and a subscription package of $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year, plus a $10 setup fee, for 500 photos.
- Telling Stories (www.tellingstories.com) helps you organize your photos, along with music and any videos you have, into a slide show that tells the story of your life (or somebody else's). It costs $50, but has a free trial version.
- An increasing number of companies are offering small portable printers that crank out 4-by-6 prints directly from a camera or memory card, skipping the computer completely.
Starting at around $150, these printers are from companies such as Epson, Kodak, Hewlett-Packard, Olympus and Sony. But while convenience and portability are a plus, make sure you check the cost of supplies before you buy.
For example, Epson sells a package of 100 sheets and an ink cartridge for $29, while Olympus sells a similar package for $49.
If you want to use a computer to print, then you'll need some kind of photo editing software. Most digital cameras are packaged with at least a basic editing program. But if what comes with the camera doesn't meet your needs, you have plenty of choices.
To help organize photos and for some minor editing such as red-eye removal, Adobe Photoshop Album and Jasc's Paint Shop Photo Album (both around $50) are top-notch choices.
Microsoft's Picture It Photo Premium 9.0 and Nova Photo Expansion Deluxe are basic programs that cost $50 or so, are easy to use and will handle basic needs, according to Consumer Reports.
For those who want more advanced features, Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 and Microsoft Digital Image Suite, both around $130, have plenty of horsepower for consumers.
Macintosh users also have iPhoto, which is included when buying a new computer or can be purchased as part of Apple's iLife suite of programs ($49).