1. Autofocus on People
Inexperienced photographers need smart cameras–particularly when shooting groups of objects. The autofocus in Minolta's 3.7X zoom Freedom Zoom 140 ($179, shown) and 4.3X zoom Freedom Zoom 160 ($199) 35mm cameras is as intelligent as they get, singling out human forms and making them the focal point–even if they move. www.minolta.com
2. A Film Camera Doubles as Digital
Can't decide between film and digital? There's no need to choose with Kodak's Advantix EasyShare APS camera. Take a shot, and the camera exposes APS film and stores a low-resolution image. The digital images are perfect for e-mailing. Price: $200. www.kodak.com
Bring on 6 Megapixels
Finally, high-end SLRs to go with your high-end lenses.
Digital choices for photographers who own high-quality SLR lenses have been limited-namely, the $2,500 3-megapixel Canon D30 or a $5,000 pro camera. But this summer the field widens with three new digital SLRs. All will cost around $3,000. Canon's D60 and Nikon's D100 bring 6 megapixels within reach of the average snapper. But the dark horse is Sigma's 3-megapixel SD-9, which uses a Foveon X3 sensor to capture full color at each pixel-traditional sensors need four pixels for color. The trick: Each pixel has three light detectors instead of one; they're placed on the sensor's silicon at the precise depths that red, green, and blue light are absorbed. The result: The SD-9, with half the pixels, could surpass the D60 and D100 in image quality. We'll test the much-hyped Foveon cameras in future issues.
3. NIKON D100
Sensor: CCD (charge coupled device)
Compatible Lenses: AF Nikkor mounts
4. CANON D60
Sensor: CMOS (complimentary metal-oxide semiconductor)
Compatible Lenses: EF mounts
5. SIGMA SD9
Sensor: Foveon X3 CMOS
Compatible Lenses: SA mounts
Next: The World's Smallest
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.