I recently posted an article on the At Home Web site called Go Ahead, Break Your Camera! Your reader feedback was interesting. Some of you, even a few of the small group who missed the joke and told me how stupid I was, asked some great questions and pointed out ways I could have made the article better. Think of this article as the rest of the story...

Reader feedback on the article boils down to four questions:

1: Why did you bother writing this article?
I wrote the article to try to wring some value out of the experience by sharing a couple thoughts I'd had as a result of my mistake. (I sincerely apologize to those of you who felt I wasted your time discussing the camera incident.)

2: What criteria did you use when choosing a new camera?
I use my camera for travel snapshots, making the following criteria most important to me:

  • Price: I didn't want to spend more than $200
  • Size/weight: I wanted the camera to fit in my jacket pocket.
  • Battery type: I want to be able to get batteries anywhere, so prefer a camera that uses AA batteries.
  • Image quality: I want to be able to print standard size photos that, to an average person like me, look as good as a 35MM print. (To learn more about image quality, see How Many Mega Pixels do you Need?
  • Zoom: I want to be able to shoot pictures of wildlife as "close" as possible. (For tips about outdoor photography, read "Take better pictures of the great outdoors."
  • Shutter speed: I want to be able to shoot pictures of wildlife before the creature in question vanishes from view. One reader pointed out that checking a camera's shutter speed specification can help offset the time delay problem I was experiencing. But like many amateur photographers, I use a point-and-shoot camera. One of the downsides of having the camera do all the work of getting the best picture possible means there's a delay between when I press the button and when the camera takes the picture. If you want a detailed description of the problem I was having with my older camera, this Camera World article Testing Your Camera's Time Delay will help.

3: How did you find the camera?
My husband found the camera and got it for me as a surprise. Using the criteria I outlined above, he shopped online to find the camera that best met my criteria, except he ended up paying a bit less than $200.

There are a number of great online resources that can help you narrow down the choices of cameras based on the features that matter most to you. Camera World is a great place to learn more about cameras and digital photography. To get in-depth (and I mean DEPTH) reviews, check out DCViews, Steve's Digicams, and Popular Photography.

Once you've narrowed down the type of camera you want, you can use sites such as WindowsMarketplace or PriceGrabbers, to compare manufacturers, models, and prices. My husband used PriceGrabber, which, by the way, is a handy place to find rebates and special offers.

4: What did you buy?
I didn't share this information for the same reason I didn't share the name of the camera I broke: it didn't seem fair to endorse or disparage any particular manufacturer, as I'm (clearly!) not a professional reviewer. But in hindsight, it was even less fair not to tell you! The camera I broke was an Olympus (sorry, I don't have the specific model number, but it was a popular point-and-shoot model from 3 or so years ago.) The camera my husband bought is another point-and-shoot model, the Canon A520.

Thanks for the comments, leave more if you like!
At the end of every At Home and At Work is a place where you can leave feedback. To those of you who gave feedback on the "Go Ahead, Break Your Camera" article, thank you so much for your comments. While some of your remarks stung a little, they let me know how I can do a better job next time.

Though it's great to get your feedback on our At Home and At Work articles, what's missing is the ability to share your comments with other readers. On TipTalk, we can do that.

For example, one of the topics I'd hoped to explore in more depth here was digital zoom. But I can't find a good description of the difference between optical zoom (where the camera's lens magnifies the picture) versus digital zoom (where the camera's software manipulates the image to make it look larger). If any of you know of such an explanation, I'd love to share it with other readers. For that, or other information you'd like to share about digital photography, just use the "comments" link below.

—Robbin Young