IN THE STORE A $600 price tag on a seven-megapixel camera might make you reconsider throwing down for a five-star villa, but the upside for a serious shooter is that you can blow up images without going grainy. Though there are encouraging new developments on the horizon from the likes of Pentax and Olympus, weatherproofing still isn't top-of-the-list for most major manufacturers: Consider an underwater housing.
IN THE FIELD There's nothing worse than running out of juice just as you spot the whale you've traveled all the way to New Zealand to see. Always pack an extracharged, peoplebattery. Depending on the size of your memory card, you might also want to bring along a backup storage system, such as Epson's 40-gigabyte P-2000.
IN THE FUTURE Large memory cards, which once cost upwards of $900, may start plunging in price as cameras with built-in hard drives appear on the scene. Within a season or two, compact digis will be able to record high-res video with the crispness of a digital video camera.