The Digital Photo
Thinking about purchasing a digital camera for your business? With prices of digital cameras continuing to come down, an investment in even the most basic camera could provide many benefits for your business.
Digital photography offers many practical applications that can enhance your company's communications and recordkeeping and save money. While a top-of-the-line camera can cost well over a thousand dollars, the basic models start at much lower prices.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Unlike traditional cameras, the digital camera provides images immediately. The technology also allows the taking of several pictures without regard to processing costs, as the photographer can select and print only the "keepers", store the images on a hard drive or CD-ROM, or e-mail selected pictures.
Here are some ways you can put your digital camera to work right away in your office, plant and/or work sites.
Property, Plant and Equipment
Keeping digital images and other records of your company assets on file in your computer is an efficient means of having the supporting data on hand if required for accounting or tax purposes. The photos can also be provided to the police and your insurer in the event items are stolen.
Create an electronic file folder for your asset records and store a photo image of each of your company's assets along with a word processing file on which you have listed information such as the serial number, date of purchase, location and other descriptive information.
Scan the original purchase documentation into a file and keep this in your computer records of assets for future reference.
When you sell an asset, attach a picture of it to the sales invoice.
A digital camera is a quick means of creating photos for:
• Company identification cards for service representatives.
• Business cards for sales representatives.
• In-house communications such as a company newsletter in which you feature the employee of the month or share memories of a special employee event.
• A "Who's Who" database of employees with job descriptions. This is a particularly helpful resource when new employees come on board.
Damages and Repairs
When equipment breaks down or is damaged, e-mail pictures to the repair crew to ensure they bring the right equipment and supplies.
When the equipment installation or set-up manual is confusing, e-mail photos of any problem areas along with your inquiry to the manufacturer.
Take photos of a repair process that is required infrequently and keep the pictures together with the repair manual for reference by other employees.
Take pictures of any damages caused by vandalism so you have a visual record in addition to your report to the police and your insurer.
Safety and Training
Use pictures of work-in-progress to visually tell the story of a job well done.
Document a well-prepared job site with photos that reinforce the various safety features that must be in place before work commences.
Post photos of safe practices on a company bulletin board or electronically on the intranet to keep employees aware of the need to follow safety guidelines and company policy.
Take photos at job sites or other work locations and post them as visual reminders about the importance of:
• wearing proper safety equipment, such as hardhats, safety glasses and harnesses;
• ensuring that the work site is properly maintained;
• taking extra precautions in risk areas; and
• following proper procedures.
Take "before" and "after" photos of a work project. For businesses such as home renovations and automobile body shops, these pictures can help demonstrate the quality of your work and support your marketing efforts to gain new clients.
Tell the story of the steps involved in a job, such as a renovation, to help customers understand the process and the timelines.
Buying a Digital Camera
Before you purchase a digital camera, take time to read the many reviews that are available on the Internet and in books, magazines and newspapers. Visit a few retailers, pick up brochures and ask questions.
Some of the specifications you need to consider include:
• Lighting: Do you need a flash or will you be shooting only outdoors?
• Resolution: Will you require basic snapshots for your applications or do you need high quality images that can be posted on a Web page or included in desktop-published print materials or a PowerPoint presentation?
• Lens and zoom-in capabilities: Do you need to be able to shoot close-ups or wide angle scenes? Would a digital zoom be sufficient or do you need the higher-end optical zoom?
• View finder: Would it be useful to have an LCD display so that you can view the images right after capture before you download them?
• Internal memory: How many photos do you anticipate taking at a time? The more internal memory the camera has, the less frequently you will have to download images in order to continue taking pictures. Alternatively, a high capacity memory card can increase the number of photos you can take during a session.
As there are many different features and specifications as well as a wide price range, plan to do some comparison shopping to ensure that the camera you select is the best one for your purposes.If you only need simple photos for applications such as identification, basic recordkeeping and e-mailing, a low cost or mid-range model may fit the bill - and the budget.