A digital camera will allow you to take photos or videos and import them into your computer. A scanner works like a photocopier, but the image is loaded straight into a computer.
There are many uses for digital imaging equipment. A camera can be used for:
Scanners also have several uses:
Once you have taken photos, shot some video or scanned an image, you can use graphics software or a video editing package to edit the resulting file on your computer.
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For taking basic photos, a compact digital camera may be best. These “point and shoot” models start at under £100, but often lack fine control over settings.
At the other end of the scale, a single lens reflex (SLR) camera will allow you to achieve near-professional quality shots. You can control all settings and swap lenses to get the right one for the job.
SLR cameras cost from £300, but a good lens can cost the same again. Unless you are a confident photographer, it might be better to purchase a cheaper camera and commission a photographer when necessary.
Although most still digital cameras can shoot short videos, a dedicated video camera will produce higher-quality footage and allow you to record for longer, saving the videos to an internal hard drive or memory card. A good, small video camera will cost around £200.
The key features of digital cameras are:
Camera manufacturers often try to make their products stand out by offering gimmicky features like preset shooting modes for every imaginable scenario. It’s generally best to disregard these and focus on matching the core features listed above to your IT requirements.
The type and size of documents you want to scan are key to your choice of scanner. Most scanners will work with PCs and Macs, though you should always check.
A basic A4 flatbed scanner will cost £50 or so. A larger scanner will be much more expensive, so if you’ll only occasionally be scanning big items, it might be best to use a scanning service.
The resolution of a scanner indicates the quality of image it will generate and is measured in dots per inch (DPI). The higher the DPI, the better quality the image. However, manufacturers often quote an inflated “interpolated” resolution – ignore this and always look for the “optical resolution”.
If you plan to archive documents, get a document scanner with a paper feeder to scan multiple sheets automatically. Some scanners come with optical character recognition (OCR) software which recognises text on paper and converts it into text you can edit on your computer.