Get a digital still camera
Digital cameras are the key to recording all those precious moments for eternity. Most Reluctant Dads are gadget freaks, so this is one of those times when your partner will probably approve of you racing out to buy stuff, you know, for the baby.
Definitely buy it well before the baby arrives. If you’ve never used a digital camera before you should read and learn all about the model you’ve purchase, as you won’t be able to do that once the kid is born. Also, take a bunch of photos and make sure you know how to load them onto you computer and email them.
CAMERA OR CAMCORDER
If I had to choose between having only one I would go with a still camera as it’s a bit cheaper and you’re going to get more use out of it as a camcorder isn’t as portable as a small still camera (though there are very small video camcorders). It’s better to have the camera with you than to not have bothered because you couldn’t fit it in your pocket. I have two video camcorders and three digital still cameras (many gadgets!), and I use the smallest of my still cameras more than all the others, even though it has the lowest resolution (only 2 megapixels). It also shoots video with sound that I’m happy enough with for emailing to relatives.
However, a video camera can’t be beat for shooting events like birthdays and such, and they usually have longer zooms enabling you more flexibility when shooting the kids running around the park or wherever.
The majority of digital still cameras can shoot video, most with sound and now in much larger 640x480 resolution at 30 frames per second. Often they are able to record to the full capacity of the memory card. So that might be 10 minutes or more (shoot shorter, lower resolution video for emailing. I have an old Sony camera that only allowed me 15 seconds of video at best quality (320x240) which you might think is kind of a nuisance, but I still use it because that is a good size for emailing and it makes a great montage of the kids growing up in 15 second bites).
WHAT TO BUY
- A small camera that fits in your pocket
- Make sure it starts up quickly (kids don’t wait around for you)
- Has a low lag time between photos
- Go for a minimum 3 megapixels
- Get one that has a minimum 3x optical zoom (don’t use digital zoom. It degrades the picture)
- Make sure it is able to record video with sound for the full capacity of the memory card (i.e. it doesn’t stop after a minute or so, even if there’s still room left). You never know when such a feature might come in handy.
- Not as important, but definitely worthy of consideration, is getting a camera that uses commonly available AA batteries (and definitely get rechargeable AA batteries as they last a lot longer than regular alkaline or lithium or whatever non-rechargeable batteries)
- A suitably large memory card
It’s also a good idea to look at the type of memory cards available (SD, CompactFlash, Memory Stick Pro, xD, etc.) as the cost of additional storage could be a factor in you decision making. I think it would be a wise decision to buy a cheaper camera in order to spend money on a larger memory card. Cameras usually come with too small a memory card to be of much use, except as a backup.
Having a baby is a great excuse to buy gadgets. In addition to the digital camera (should be the first on your gadget list), you may also be able to push for a camcorder, a universal remote (see the Drool article), a photo printer, and possibly a DVD recorder (so that you can record the still photos and videos, either from the camcorder or the digital camera, to DVD and send to relatives). You should probably wait until you’ve developed a budget, though. Don’t go out and buy all this stuff at once. A baby is never fiscally responsible. A further stretch might be the purchase of a new computer. If your partner is computer oblivious you might be able to fool her into thinking you need a new computer. You probably don’t. Manufacturers like to make you think you need new equipment all the time, and for some cutting edge video editing and the like you may, but mostly you can get away with the included Windows Movie Maker or Apple’s iMovie and some other free or cheap photo editing applications.
Check out www.steves-digicams.com for great reviews on digital cameras.
Newegg, www.newegg.com, has a wealth of gadgets, good prices and is an extremely trustworthy online store that sells a wide range of items. Most of their products have reviews and are good for research. Their shipping is always fast, and they have a very good return system.