Table: Five Recommendations

HP PHOTOSMART 315, Street price $299, 2.1 megapixels

A stripped-down but best-selling basic camera; by far the best software for downloading, printing, e-mailing pictures

KODAK DX3500, Street price $299, 2.3 megapixels

First in a new line designed for amateurs; easy-to-use software and optional dock ($79) make it a good choice for beginners

SONY CYBER-SHOT DSC-P30, Street price $299, 1.3 megapixels

Loaded with extras, such as special effects and movie modes; 3X zoom lens makes up for lower resolution

OLYMPUS BRIO D-100, Street price $249, 1.3 megapixels

The smallest and lightest of the bunch is a true shirt-pocket camera; carry extra batteries to compensate for high power consumption

FUJIFILM FINEPIX 2300, Street price $279, 2.1 megapixels

Good bargain choice; small menu navigation button a little difficult to use

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