Friday, February 16, 2007

Fab Four: January 2007

First Glimpse magazine
January 1, 2007 • Vol.4 Issue 1
Page(s) 24-25 in print issue


As winter’s grip tightens, our desire to relax and have some fun heightens. This month’s Fab Four picks are all about living it up. Among our favorites are a camera you can take on the slopesor on a tropical getawaywithout much fear it’ll be ruined, and the new nano, which brightens things up with some springtime colors and packs in more entertainment per charge than ever before. And the (PRODUCT) RED version gives us the chance to warm our hearts by doing something good.


digital camera

OlympusStylus 730

$399.99
www.olympusamerica.com


Why: If you don’t want to worry about whether your gadgets can keep up with your rough-and-tumble life, but you also don’t want to be weighed down by a bulky device, the new Olympus Stylus 730 is for you. Whether you’re into mountain biking or toddler wrangling, the Stylus 730 is built to survive splashes, falls, dust, and snowstorms alike. So whatever hits youfrom a toppled Big Gulp to dusty trailsyour camera will likely keep on clicking. The Stylus 730’s durable design doesn’t sacrifice a slim form factor. The body is 2.4 x 3.8 x 0.83 inches (HxWxD), and it features a 3-inch LCD, so even in its petite package the Stylus 730 won’t make you squint to see what you’ve framed. This 7.1MP camera packs practical features, including Digital Image Stabilization Mode, which reduces blur and increases crispness; Digital Image Stabilization Edit, which allows for in-camera retouching; and Bright Capture Technology, which helps capture great flash-free photos in low light.

Bottom line: All-weather? Alright.


mp3 player

iPod nano
$149 (2GB), $199 (4GB), $249 (8GB)
www.ipod.com

Why: The new iPod nano is thinnerif you can imaginethan its previous generation, comes in five colors (options determined by capacity), and boasts a longer battery life (24 hours) and a 40% brighter color display. It comes in three sizes, 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB, which can hold approximately 500, 1,000, and 2,000 songs, respectively. Color choices include silver (2GB, 4GB); green, blue, and pink (4GB); and black (8GB). If you choose the special edition (PRODUCT) RED ($199; 4GB), Apple will donate $10 to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS in Africa (www.theglobalfund.org). (PRODUCT) RED-branded iTunes gift cards are also available at Apple’s Web site. The nano’s new body is made out of aluminum to offer more durability. As with all iPods, the nano only supports iTunes (www.itunes.com). You can rip your own CDs and import them using iTunes, or you can buy audio files from the iTunes store. The nano can store and display image files and play podcasts and audiobooks (from iTunes), as well.

Bottom line: World’s most popular player.


phone

Motorola MOTOKRZR K1m
$349.99
www.motorola.com/us

Why: As sleek as its popular predecessors in the RAZR line, the new MOTOKRZR K1m from Motorola is 0.7 inches thick and 1.7 inches wide. Its dark pearl-gray glass gives it an urban sophisticate look. This multimedia-focused phone features a 1.9-inch color screen, Bluetooth, an MP3 player, and a 1.3MP camera, which provides video capture and playback. The specific array of multimedia services available depends on your carrier. At press time, U.S. carriers were Alltel (www.alltell.com), Sprint (www.sprint.com), and Verizon Wireless (www.verizonwireless.com). Verizon subscribers can use KRZRs to download any of the 1.4 million songs available from Verizon’s V CAST Music service. Alltel users can access Alltel’s Axcess Broadband network, which includes broadcasts of live television. Sprint customers can subscribe to Sprint’s Power Vision for more than 50 channels of live TV and on-demand video, as well as NFL Mobile, which delivers video highlights, real-time stats, and injury reports.

Bottom line: Elegant multimedia performer.


wild card

Sony HDR-UX1 AVCHD DVD Handycam Camcorder
$1,399
www.sonystyle.com

Why: If you’ve been looking to upgrade your camcorder, Sony’s HDR-UX1 Handycam may be just the thing. It features a 10X optical zoom and a 4MP still image capture, and it lets you record directly to DVD. You can record to a DVD in SD (standard definition) in MPEG2 or HD in AVCHD (Advanced Video Codec HD). Using DVD+R Dual Layer discs, you can record one hour of HD (1080i) content. Depending on the recording format, you can play back your DVDs in most DVD players, computers, Blu-ray Disc players, and Sony PlayStation 3 video game consoles. It supports Sony’s MemoryStick Duo, so you can transfer still images to your PC for printing or emailing. The high-quality Carl Zeiss lenses are treated with layers of special coating designed to increase contrast and color saturation and decrease glare and flare. The built-in microphone records in 5.1-channel Dolby Digital surround-sound, and the Super NightShot Infrared System lets you shoot video in low light. The HDR-UX1 isn’t Mac-compatible.

Bottom line: Worth splurging on.




by Naomi Graychase

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Musical Mom

Musical Mom - Interview with Lori McKenna
by Naomi Graychase
[originally published at HipMama.com]

Lori McKenna blends talent and family into a recipe for success.

It’s a Thursday night in mid-December and Lori McKenna is dressed in jeans and a baggy, black sweater. In these clothes, she could be driving the car pool, or taking her four kids to the grocery store, but instead she’s standing on a stage before a rapt audience of nearly 200, glowing. Her set tonight is a short one. Just a few songs. Then Dar Williams will take the stage as the headliner.

She opens with a love song about her husband of fourteen years, and the young man beside me leans in and says, “I want to be her husband.” He looks at her there on stage, takes a swig of beer, and turns back to me, and says, “If I had to be a plumber and have four kids, it’d be okay if she was my wife.”

The audience is attentive. As McKenna sings about the hole that’s worn through her couch, about her son’s learning disability, about her mother’s death at an early age, about the man she went to high school with whose life seems to have fallen tragically apart, about fireflies and daydreams, the only other noise is a vague clinking from the kitchen, and then, applause.

McKenna’s life seems so atypical when you compare her to her peers in the music industry. She has four children--Brian 13, Mark 10, Chris 8, Meghan 10 months--a loving husband, and a home just minutes from the one she grew up in. And yet, she’s not your average, everyday, working mom, either. How many women in line at the bank in Stoughton, Massachusetts have an album that was just distributed nationally, and awards to their credit like New Artist of the Year (WUMB FM), or Outstanding Contemporary Folk Act (Boston Music Awards, 1999)? How many seventh graders can say that their mom played Lilith Fair and the Newport Folk Festival? How many daughters can one day play in the discarded patent leather Mary Janes and sparkly purple shirt their mother wore to perform in front of thousands?

Listening to McKenna makes you feel. Every time I’ve watched her perform, whether it was opening for a more established artist, headlining herself, or among a split bill of artists at a large benefit show, my eyes welled up with tears. It’s not just the lyrics, it’s the way she sings. It pierces you, like the perfect peal of a bell, rising, and tugging at your heart.

When you hear her speak, her accent is unmistakably South Boston. But when you hear her sing her blend of folk, bluegrass, and country, you would bet your best guitar that she hails from Nashville, Austin, or the Ozarks. A National Public Radio correspondent said recently that “more than any young songwriter on the scene today, Lori McKenna’s songs carry that stirring blend of stark intimacy and universality that has always marked the folk form at its finest.” And one man, who books an important New England venue says, off the record, that her song Fireflies is “the best folk song ever written.”

I spoke with McKenna for hipMama in May about what it’s like to be a touring singer-songwriter and a mother of four, all by the age of 31. (You can find out more about McKenna, buy her CDs, and see when she’s touring, at her Web site:
lorimckenna.com .)

NG: You’ve been a professional musician for five years, and a mom for 13. What role do your children play in your musical process?

LM: I think they are the biggest piece of me that comes through in the music. They’re an inspiration…When you have kids, it changes your whole perspective on everything…I was 20 when I had Brian, so, maybe I just hadn’t figured things out on my own yet at that point; it changed me so much as a writer because it changed me as a person.

NG: Most singer-songwriters write a lot of love songs--songs about looking for romantic love, unrequited love, heartbreak. Most of your songs are love songs too, but they seem to embody a different sort of love than the one we usually hear folksingers sing about.

LM: You grow up, and you love your parents and you have this love for your family, your best friend, then you get a boyfriend or a girlfriend. I love my husband and I still do, but when I had Brian, the thing that struck me--I had no idea that I was capable of loving something or someone so much, that I was willing to do anything for him. Then, when I had Mark, well, I love him so much, too—and it’s the same thing with every one of my kids. Even with my fourth. You could have 25 kids and still, you still love your husband or whatever, but it’s this different sort of love. Maybe it’s because you know you’re the one who is the protector. I think that comes through in the songs. When it comes down to it, I think every song is a love song. Every song comes down to love in the end, everything does.

NG: You played gigs almost right up until the birth of your daughter. Does the guitar feel different against your body when you’re pregnant?

LM: The last show I did was August 2nd, and she was born August 6th. I kept moving the guitar up and up and up to my chin. It was almost an inch below my chin when I was nine months pregnant! I never performed outside of my house when I was pregnant with the boys, so I asked a friend what to do. She said just move the guitar up and up. It’s a little more difficult, because of the belly. But, nothing is profoundly different.

NG: Whose music do you most admire?

LM: I liked listening to James Taylor growing up. Neil Young. Carole King. Cuz that’s what my older brothers and sisters listened to. I just admire singer-songwriters. I don’t have a lot of CDs in my house of people who cover other people’s songs. I always kind of check to see who wrote the song. That was always a big thing for me. I just listen to all different stuff, even if it’s a band. Jimmy Eat World, that’s my new favorite band.

NG: What kind of guitar do you use and have you ever had formal training?

LM: A Martin, D16. It’s a big guitar for me. I’m used to it and now I’m afraid to change. I’ve never had any real formal training. When I was 13, I took lessons for a year or two. But that was it. I never pursued any theory or anything. Probably because I’m a bad student.

NG: One of your most popular and moving songs is Hardly Speaking a Word. Can you tell me about writing it?

LM: It’s specifically about [my eldest son] Brian. He was diagnosed with ADD, and that was my song written about the frustration of it. The people that evaluate these things, they don’t really know your kid, and they come in and tell you “You see things differently.”

The basis of the song is that a lot of the things that are frustrating about Brian are the best things about his personality. So, the song is just about thinking I should have handled him differently, in the midst of yelling at him for the fifteenth time for running out into the street, I should have also yelled at him for the things I love about him. So through the years, he’s kind of like me, he’s not a great student but he’s great in all these other ways. He’s dyslexic, but he’s really smart and just doesn’t fit into that mold. So the song is basically about remembering to tell him how much I love these things about him.

I didn’t think anyone would like the song b/c it’s so personal and I don’t really explain what I’m talking about. But, I guess that’s good because people can take away whatever they want. I was shocked that people liked it and always asked for it.

NG: What does Brian think about the song?

LM: Somewhere along the way I was probably practicing in the living room. And he came in and was like, “That song is about me, isn’t it?”

It was perfect Brian--he figures everything out. It’s ironic that he has trouble in school cuz he’s just so damn smart!

I said, “Yeah, it is.” And he’s fine with it. I think he understands what I mean in it. He’s not embarrassed about it, at least not yet. But he just turned 13.

NG: Brian likes to play guitar, doesn’t he?

LM: He’s going to be the best guitar player in the world, that’s his goal. He’s actually very good. He’s gonna be a musician. I don’t worry about him when he grows up. He’s very self-assured and has this great ego.

NG: How does the baby respond to your music?

LM: Meghan is very musical. When I was six or seven months pregnant, I went to hear a show. I sat right near the big speakers, and she rolled around in my stomach for two and a half hours straight. I never found a baby to be that consistent.

She’s a huge Richard Thompson fan. She’ll be sitting on the floor now and the minute music starts, she’ll start swaying. Josh Ritter came over the other day and we were writing together and the minute he started, she started swaying back and forth. I sit on the floor and she’ll crawl over and touch the strings on my guitar. I’ve never seen a baby being so in tune, even with a jingle on a commercial. She’ll unconsciously start swaying. She has pretty good rhythm. She’s already upstaging me. I got my haircut the other day and then went out to see some people, and no one noticed cuz I had her with me!

NG: Do you take your kids with you when you tour?

LM: Well, now, the baby especially would go. I’d bring Brian and he’d watch her. Now she’s on this great sleeping schedule. We’ve gone to Philly and done two shows and two nights and then be home the third day. If I’m gonna be gone for more than two days, I have to take them cuz I’d go insane if I didn’t! I’m still nursing Meghan once a day now; I can’t really let go of it yet. The boys I nursed ‘til 9 months. It’s such a soothing thing. I could be on a deserted island and still take care of this baby.

NG: Last time we spoke, you mentioned that you don’t write down your songs right away, and that sometimes it’s the kids that remind you that you wrote one.

LM: Yeah, it’s happened at least four times. My process of writing, it goes through stages. I do the melody first, and then the words, or sometimes both at the same time. I never write anything down or record anything until I’ve had it beat in my head enough to remember it the next day. I try to hum a melody along with the guitar, a lot of times out of that a chorus line will come out over and over again. But, I always get interrupted. With four kids, it’s not like I can sit for like 5 or 6 hours to get a song out. Usually it takes a few days. So, sometimes, I forget about it, and the third day will come and go, and then the fourth day one of the kids will be singing it and I’ll go, oh! I forgot about it!

Now I just work during the day when the kids are at school. So there’s just Meg and she can’t repeat anything. But I’ve actually found that if I write or record too early, it doesn’t go anywhere. I have a notebook I call “The Morgue.” I don’t know why, but it doesn’t go anywhere if I write it down there.

NG: In "Never Die Young", a song penned for her mother, who died when she was six years old, McKenna writes: "I am the one who will never die young, I am a martyr and I cannot hide. But I'm not a winner, I'm just brilliantly bitter. I'm sealed by my skin, but broken inside." Can you tell me a little bit about Never Die Young?

LM: That’s the other really, really personal song. It’s written about my mom who died when she was 40, and I was six. And I’ve always had this really strong feeling growing up that I was going to live to be really old someday…I’m gonna live to be like 100 because my mother died when she was so young. My sister feels like she’ll die young.

It’s about that and the fact that when I was growing up and as a teenager, I felt so sorry for myself because my mother died. I’d hang out with my friends and they’d complain about their mothers but I’d think at least they had their mothers to complain about. And then when I had Brian, I felt sorry for myself more because I didn’t have my mom…But then I realized I was really okay. I was well taken care of. My dad, my step-mom. As a mother, I’d be heartbroken to leave, and I realized that she was taken away from her six children…but then of course, I have this thing in my head that she can always see us.

NG: What are your current or new projects?

LM: I’m touring more this year than I ever have. We’ve figured out this great balancing act with Meghan and the boys. I’m promoting Pieces of Me. It took a long time, 18 months to record, and in the process and being pregnant, I’ve written all these other songs. Hopefully we’ll go in the studio to do an album soon. But, ‘til then, we may do a home-recorded set of nine or ten songs that have come up along the way. We have about 25 songs to weed through and look at. We'll have to figure out which ones work together and which ones don’t. I’d love to try to get a few songs out on a home-made EP, while we work on a more polished studio album."

Lori Recommends


Carole King

I can identify with her a lot. It’s that woman thing.


Kris Delmhorst

I just think that her songwriting is amazing.


The Police

I think about The Police and I think about growing up. That’s always good, too, stuff that you remember from being a teenager.


Allison Krauss

She’s amazing.


Bruce Springsteen

It’s not magic and angels and stuff, it’s people’s stories, different people. Not what you necessarily hear on the radio. He’s got so much stuff that’s about other people.

Naomi Graychase is a freelance writer currently at work on her first book of nonfiction.
You can reach her at www.graychase.com

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Two Jackies

Fifty years ago this summer, two women--Jacqueline Auriol of France and the American Jacqueline Cochran--became the first women in the world to break the sound barrier. Cochran did it first. Flying in a SabreJet, she created her first sonic boom in May of 1953 at the age of 43. Just a few months later, flying a Dassault Mystère II, the 36-year old Auriol bested Cochran's record and became the first European female to fly faster than sound. For the next ten years these pilots would continue to trade world speed records back and forth across the Atlantic in what is perhaps aviation's most impressive rivalry between two solo pilots.
Falconer, Issue 23, 2003

Read the whole story.

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Off the Deep End: Profile of Tanya Streeter

Tanya Streeter is a woman with a secret. She, and she alone, knows what it feels like to take a breath, ride a weighted sled straight down to 500 feet below the surface of the ocean, and then swim back up, with lungs that have shrunk to the size of fists, and legs that are burning with lactic acid. On her world record-breaking dive (in the Variable Ballast class) in July, she held her breath for 3 minutes, 38 seconds, went 27 meters deeper than the previous women's world record holder, and two meters deeper than the men's. The next day, she broke another world record in a different class of free diving. Streeter now holds five world records in various classes of free diving, a sport most people have never even heard of.

Falconer,
Issue 23, 2003

Read the whole story.
Read the full Interview.

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MP3 Players For The Holidays: Hot Portable Player Options

It’s no surprise that MP3 players are among the most sought-after CE gifts this holiday season. Even the most tech averse among us are becoming tempted by the ubiquitous (and ever more affordable) portable music devices. Carin Clevidence, a 38-year-old Massachusetts-based mother of two--whose only foray into the world of technology is the laptop she’s writing her novel on--has put one on her Christmas list.

First Glimpse, December 2006
Read the whole story.

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Best Digital Cameras For Women

Best Digital Cameras For Women
We Want Form & Function

by: Naomi Graychase
CE Lifestyles, August 2005

Choosing the right digital camera can feel a lot like choosing the right car--part beauty pageant, part serious quest for the right set of features to fit your budget. Fortunately, when you set out to buy the perfect camera, you don’t have to deal with pushy sales managers or get approved for financing. You do, however, have to wade through a market that’s become flooded with a variety of cameras offering a dizzying array of features and styles. So, what’s a girl to do?

First, you’ll want to decide two important things: How much you can spend, and what you’ll use your camera for. Once you have a general idea of your budget, and a sense of whether you’ll be taking snapshots or looking to adjust your own aperture settings, ask yourself a few lifestyle questions. Do you want to be able to hand your camera to someone on vacation without also handing her the manual? Can your kids, co-workers, or technologically impaired spouse take photos with it? Will your camera feel like a brick or a cell phone in your purse? What if you want to shoot your daughter in action at her soccer game? Are you frequently holding a baby, an umbrella, or other things, which make it important that you be able to navigate menus and shoot photos using only one hand? Are you likely to drop your camera in the pool or shoot lots of photos in the rain? (See the “Underwater Action” sidebar.)

If, like most women, you primarily want to take snapshots, and you want to spend $200 or less, you’ll sacrifice some quality and some features and you may have to make some concessions when it comes to size. Your $150 camera is more likely to remind you of a minivan than a Maserati, but it will still be useful. If you’re willing to spend a little more, Canon, Kodak, Kyocera, and Sony all make excellent cameras that hover in the $250 to $300 range. Among our favorites are the 5MP (megapixel) Canon PowerShot A95 ($299; consumer.usa.canon.com) and the 4MP Kodak EasyShare CX7430 ($279.95; www.kodak.com). (For more on budget cameras, see the “Best Buys” sidebar.)

When it comes to making decisions about resolution, we recommend 3MP or higher. If you want to enlarge your photos--for example, make prints that are 8 inches x 10 inches or larger or blow up details--look for digicams with 4MP resolution or higher. The higher the resolution, the better the quality of your images. (For more on selecting the perfect camera, see the “Fab Four Female-Friendly Features” sidebar.)

If having a slim, highly portable camera is your main objective, we recommend an ultracompact device. Our favorites are the Casio Exilim EX S100 ($299; www.casio.exilim.com) and the Canon PowerShot SD20 ($349). The 3.2MP EX S100 is about the size of a credit card and the thickness of a pack of gum, but still offers a 2-inch LCD. The SD20 is slightly smaller than a pack of cigarettes, comes in flashy colors, such as “garnet,” “Zen gray,” and “midnight blue,” but offers only a 1.5-inch LCD. If you find you rarely have two free hands, you can operate both of these cameras one-handed (although that’ll be more of a challenge for lefties).

Also leading the pack in the ultracompact category are the Panasonic Lumix FX7 ($399; www.panasonic.com/consumer_electronics) and the Canon PowerShot SD300 ($349). The 5MP Lumix FX7 prevents blurry photos by detecting jitter and automatically moving the lens to correct it and it features a 2.5-inch display, the largest LCD in this class. The 4MP PowerShot SD300 features a 2-inch LCD and an impressive 3X optical zoom.

The Miss Congeniality award goes to the 4MP Kodak EasyShare LS743 ($299). This is the camera anyone can use--children, spouses, co-workers, strangers who take your photo on vacation. It’s an excellent starter camera for someone nervous about going digital, and unlike some of the other EasyShare models, it’s also relatively pretty and petite.

If shooting high-quality action images is what you’re after, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P200 ($399; www.sonystyle.com) is a home run. It has it all: looks, features, and convenient size. It comes in two colors (red and silver), serves up 7.2MP resolution, and 3X optical zoom, and you can capture high-resolution shots at up to at 1.1fps (frames per second), perfect for preserving every motion of that winning goal. It also shoots high-grade MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group) movies with audio and provides a 2-inch LCD. But like so many superstars, it’s also a little high-maintenance. This camera takes some getting used to, and it’s tough for beginners to fully take advantage of all its perks.

For a more user-friendly, but high-end, digicam experience, Nikon offers the Coolpix 7900 ($399; www.nikonusa.com), which was specifically designed with women in mind. New to the market, the Coolpix 7900 caters to the woman who is willing to spend a little more in order capture beautiful photographs with a sharp-looking, ultra-portable digital camera. While it isn’t the prettiest camera in the bunch--we’d give that honor to the PowerShot SD20--at 7.1MP, it’s a cut above many of its competitors. Lightweight and full-featured, the Coolpix provides cutting-edge technology, such as its built-in “D-Lighting” software, a one-button fix for overly dark photos, and software-based automatic red-eye removal. Its 2-inch LCD is the perfect size, and while it offers an exceptional level of control, you won’t have to wade three menus deep--or take a photography class--to access the best ones.

Last, but not least, for the serious photographer who wants to change lenses, zoom up to 12X, and enjoys the feel of a traditionally sized 35mm camera in her hands, we recommend three options: Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-FZ5 ($499.95), Konica Minolta’s DiMage Z5 ($649.99; konicaminolta.us), and DiMage Z20 ($399).

Fab Four Female-Friendly Features

SIZE MATTERS
Unless you’re looking for professional-level control, the perfect camera should be as easy to slip into a purse or pocket as your cell phone. Just like buying shoes that are too small means you’ll never wear them, buying a camera that’s a little cheaper and a lot more bulky means you’ll wind up leaving it home gathering dust when you could be out capturing keepsake moments.

MAKE IT SNAPPY
Who has time to sift through three menus to find the red-eye-reduction or self-timer? The Kodak EasyShare line won the ease-of-use category hands down. First timers or those who don’t want to waste any precious time getting to know their camera will do well with these picks.

EXPRESS YOURSELF
While looks aren’t everything, you should indulge your sense of style. Sleek looks, slim designs, and enticing colors all enhance the joy of going digital. Liz Lange and Nikon even offer a co-branded camera (Coolpix 3200; $399.95; www.coolpix101.com/main.html?section=real_lifeography&topic=capture_glow) designed by Liz herself. (All proceeds benefit a national children’s charity.)

BIG SCREEN
Squinting isn’t a good look in photos, and it isn’t a good look for the one behind the camera either. Some stylishly small cameras entice you with their pixie-sized good looks, but the trade-off is a screen the size of a postage stamp. Buyer beware, especially if you’re far-sighted.

Underwater Action


The submersible Pentax Optio WP ($400; www.pentaximaging.com) features a rust-resistant metal exterior, rubber sealants, and lens protection that lets you shoot in the rain, in the snow--or even in up to five feet of water. With 5MP, a 3X optical zoom lens and a 2-inch low-reflection monitor, you don’t have to sacrifice quality for durability, which makes it perfect for the adventurous, aquatic, or just plain clumsy shutterbug and her family.


Top Five Cameras For Women

These are not your mother’s cameras. They can shoot video, record audio, go underwater, and “de-light” (which we found delightful). We tested 13 cameras from market leaders Canon, Sony, and Kodak, as well as strong contenders Casio, Nikon, Panasonic, and Konica Minolta. It was tough to choose, but these are our five pic picks for women.

Nikon Coolpix 7900
$399; www.nikon.com
High-tech, high-resolution, ultra-portable, and handsome to boot. This 7.1MP camera will please point-and-shooters and more finicky photographers, too.


Casio Exilim EX S100
$299; www.casio.com
So slim it could almost fit in your wallet, and it won’t break the bank to buy one. The 2-inch LCD is the jewel in this pretty camera’s crown.


Canon PowerShot A95
$299; www.canon.com
An affordable, easy-to-use 5MP camera. Its only downside is its super-size.


Kodak EasyShare LS743
$299; www.kodak.com
For nervous beginners, or those with no time to waste learning the ropes, this 5MP beauty is the best camera you can buy for under $300.


Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX7
$399; www.panasonic.com
Easy on the eyes in more ways than one, this gorgeous ultracompact boasts the largest LCD in its class (2.5 inch), 5MP resolution, and a rapid-fire shutter speed.




BEST BUYS

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but how much are you willing to pay for the camera that takes it? If finding a high-quality camera for less than $300 is your goal, we recommend these five cameras: Canon PowerShot A95 ($299), Casio Exilim EX S100 ($299.99), Kodak EasyShare LS743 ($299), Kodak EasyShare CX7530 ($299), and Kodak EasyShare CX7430 ($279.95). Of these five, the Casio Exilim is the sleekest and slimmest; the Canon PowerShot A95 is the chunkiest, but the most fully featured; and the PowerShot A95 and Kodak EasyShare CX7530 are the only cameras we tested that offer 5MP with a price tag of $300 or less.



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