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There has never been a more exciting time to be a photographer, amateur or professional. Digital photography allows instant gratification with simple point-and-shoot operation. Moreover, camera software has become easier to navigate, and camera-to-computer hookup has been simplified.

I recently brought home a digital camera system that was so easy to operate that in less than 10 minutes my 9-year-old son was taking pictures and e-mailing them to friends.

Still more good news for digital photographers is that the cost of digital cameras has come down. Size and weight have also been reduced. Some cameras fit in the palm of your hand.

Here’s a look at a few of the recent entries from 35-mm camera manufacturers into the fast-growning, ever-changing world of digital cameras.

Canon PowerShot Pro 90. Canon is well-known for optics, and it is optics that distinguishes this 2.6-megapixel camera. The Pro 90 has a built-in 10X zoom with optical-image stabilization, which is a feature found in Canon’s pro lenses that reduces the number of blurry pictures caused by camera shake. Suggested retail price is $1,299.

Fuji FinePix 6800. If you like the look of the Porsche 911 sports car, you’ll like the look of this 3.3-megapixel camera, because F.A. Porsche lent his style interpretation to it. The camera not only takes still pictures, it takes videos with sound that can be e-mailed to family and friends. Suggested retail price is $899.

Kodak EasyShare System. This system consists of a point-and-shoot digital camera (2- and 3-megapixel models are available) and a docking station that hooks up to a computer through the USB port. Load the camera software, place the camera in the docking station, press a button, and you’re all set to play with your pictures in your computer. The Kodak DX3500 2.2-megapixel digital camera has a suggested retail price of $299. The docking station is $79.

Minolta Dimage 7. With 5.2 megapixels, a 7X zoom, several exposure control modes and through-the-lens viewing, this camera could be considered a professional digital camera. For amateurs, the camera also offers simple, one-touch operation capable of making exhibit-quality enlargements. Estimated retail price is $1,499.

Nikon CoolPix 775. One of the smallest and lightest digital cameras available, this camera offers a resolution of 2.1 megapixels, easy-to-operate controls, a sleek design and a zoom lens. Suggested retail price is $450.

Olympus C-211 Zoom. This is actually two cameras in one: a 2.1-megapixel digital camera with a 3X optical zoom and a Polaroid camera, which uses Polaroid 500 film. The camera, with a backlit monitor for daylight viewing, shoots stills and videos. An accessory telephoto lens is available for portraits and sports shots. Suggested retail price is $599.

Do some window or Web shopping and see which digital camera is just right for you.

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