July 2002
Issue 7
Volume 7
  In This Issue
Going Digital: What to Buy When You're Ready
Talk to Your Audience
Double Trouble: An Apology
Grammar Trap: Prevent vs. Avoid

Going Digital: What to Buy When You're Ready

Why buy a digital camera instead of a film camera? There's nothing wrong with film cameras, but digital does offer some advantages.

Digital cameras provide an immediacy that film cameras don't. You no longer have to wait for processing. Getting a photo from a negative or print requires some sort of scanning. With digital, the image is transferred directly to your computer, ready for you to use.

The first thing to consider when buying a digital still camera is what you are going to do with it. Are you going to take your photos to the Web? Use them in a newsletter? Use them for diagnostics of a situation or condition? Or even blow them up to wall-size posters? There are other things to consider, too.


Pixels are the smaller parts of an image that make up the whole picture. The more pixels you have, the better the resolution.

A 1-megapixel (1 million pixels) camera can print a fine 4x6-inch print. A 6-megapixel camera can make an excellent 11x16-inch print.

If you're just going to use your images on the Web, you may not want to pay the hefty price of a 4- or 5-megapixel camera, but if you want large blow-ups of your images, you should consider getting a camera in the 4 plus megapixel range.

Zoom Lens

When considering the zoom feature, getting a camera with a good optical zoom is best. Digital zooms use software to enlarge the image, and this usually diminishes image quality.

Manual vs. Automatic Features

Many low-priced cameras only offer automatic controls. While this makes image taking easy, it can also limit you. I recommend that you get a camera that has quality automatic exposure and focus controls, but also one that allows you to override automatic controls.

There are cases where manual control can be essential. For instance, you may have to photograph through a window. Sometimes the glass in a window can cause the automatic focus to only focus on the glass and not what you're trying to capture.

Size & Weight

If you can, it's always a good idea to get the camera in your hands to test. Check the ergonomics of the camera to make sure it feels good and works well for you.

Some cameras are made entirely of plastic. While this keeps the weight down, it could also make them fragile. You may want to look for a compromise of weight versus sturdiness.

Power Requirements

Some digital cameras take off-the-shelf batteries, and some require a proprietary battery. Proprietary batteries can cost more money, and you may have trouble finding a replacement.

Some cameras are ravenous battery consumers, so I recommend that you always buy a back-up battery.

Camera-Buying Basics

When you start shopping, remember camera-buying basics. Always look for a quality lens. This is the key to good images. And look for a lens that has a low f-stop aperture setting. This becomes important in low light situations.

Shopping Assistance

Explore these helpful Web sites for reviews and advice.




For information on how to store the images from your digital camera, see next month's article on digital storage options.

Randy Spears

Talk to Your Audience

When you're marketing a program or service, don't forget to talk to your audience.

Recently, I've reviewed several promotional flyers produced by county and campus staff who want to promote Purdue Extension. Too often I saw people throwing a lot of institutional stuff (I have other words for it) at potential readers rather than talking to them.

The funny thing is, as educators most of you talk to your audiences when you are educating, but somehow you lose that when you try to market. Some of the reasons might include the complexity of the issue you are trying to market, complexity of the Purdue Extension system, and/or fear of marketing.

Some of you seem to be too hung up on complexity of the issue and/or what Purdue Extension is. You tend to think about the institution and not the audience. If that happens, ask yourself:

  • What are their needs?
  • How can I help them?
  • When can I help them?
  • How can they reach me?

Answering those questions (and a few others that you might think of) from your audiences' point of view is all you need to do to get past the complexity and start communicating about your program or service.

Some of you have a fear of marketing.Don't. We need to market ourselves. In fact, in the Plan of Work process, people told us we need to market Purdue Extension. You can do that with flyers, newsletters, Web sites, presentations, media relations, etc. Just pick the highest priority and/or profile messages, keep them simple, and direct them at your audiences. If you concentrate on high priority and high profile, you open the door for people to ask you about your other programs.

Let's look at the other aspect of the fear of marketing. Some of you feel if you spend time on marketing you'll lose time developing and delivering programs and/or services. In "Marketing Extension" in the April 1996 "On Target" , we offered a four-step plan that incorporates marketing into your program development. That four-step process helps you understand your audience,
differentiate your product or service, and tell people why they should use your product or service.


Good marketing starts with listening to your audience and ends with talking to your audience. Y'all let me know how I can help you with that.

Steve Cain

Double Trouble: An Apology

It had to happen sometime, and it finally did. Last month, I did a "Grammar Trap" on "can vs. may," a perfectly respectable topic. The only trouble is, that was also the topic of my March 1999 "Grammar Trap"


I could have sworn I'd checked the "Grammar Traps" site before I commenced writing, but I must have mistaken the intention for the deed.


Sorry about that, folks, and an embarrassed "thank you" to Mike Atwell, Ag Comm Web developer, for letting me know about my lapse. We can only hope the same thing won't happen again.

Laura Hoelscher

Grammar Trap: Prevent vs. Avoid

I didn't find gobs of support for this in my reference books. In fact, I had to go to the dictionary to find any support at all. But I'm writing about it anyway, just because it bugs me when I see one word used for the other in the things I edit.

There's a subtle but definite difference in meaning between "prevent" and "avoid."

"Prevent" means to keep something from happening or existing at all, to make it impossible.

Example: She couldn't prevent him from attending.

"Avoid" means to keep away from something or steer clear of it.

Example: But she resolved to avoid him at all costs.

Do you have a grammar (or usage) trap you'd like to see discussed? Do you have a tip that will help the rest of us avoid one? If so, please let me know

Visit: http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/agcomm/ontarget/grammartrap/ for past "Grammar Traps."

Laura Hoelscher

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