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In preparation of my upcoming trip, I've been examining digital cameras to see which one would be the best to capture all those unique moments. I've been looking for months, really.

When it comes to capturing a memory on film (or in a computer), can you have too much quality?

For the last few months I've examined dozens of cameras made by Sony, Canon, Panasonic, HP and Fuji to see which would be the best option for me. I'll admit that I do not want to have a film camera, as development costs are not something I would look forward to, and I would really much rather have the freedom to capture a thousand pictures and then have just the ones I want developed and put on paper.

I'll also admit that I will not settle for anything less than 6.0 MegaPixels.

When I first went to Japan in April, and when Reiko came to Canada in August, I had borrowed a friend's 3.2 MP camera. This was okay for some shots, but it was an older unit. This meant that some pictures would be out of focus or in the wrong color spectrum depending on the lighting, the shake of my hand, or the speed of the object (very few of my shots from the Nagoya Aquarium turned out really well). Add to this the fact that I'm looking for something that I can use for several years to capture all those moments when I go somewhere nice or spend time with the special few people in my life, and I'm forced to wonder if "buying" is even the right option for me.

One of the things I've seen many people do (and get away with) is the "return". This idea makes very effective use of a department store's policy to accept returns on things within a certain time frame. One option that I've been considering is to buy a really nice Canon 7.1 MP (or better) camera before going to Japan, and then return it right after I return. So long as I keep the unit in great shape, this shouldn't be a problem. This option would also give the the ability to "borrow" a better camera this spring when I visit my family in Ontario with Reiko. Of course, I could do the very same thing again when I travel to Japan or Reiko comes to Canada at a later date.

Using this policy to my advantage, I could always have a great camera at my disposal with ever-improving picture qualities and ever-larger pixel resolutions. I've met people that do this very thing with almost every piece of technology they own so that they are able to have the latest and greatest cell phones and notebook computers, so I should be able to do the same thing with a camera … right?

Unfortunately, every time I've ever tried to return something to a store, I've been turned away for some reason. The best I've ever managed was a partial store credit on a PDA. I also have this notion that exploiting this policy is morally wrong, so my conscience warns me against it.

Sure, I wouldn't have the camera for more than 3 weeks. Sure, I probably wouldn't even have more than two thousand pictures taken. Sure, I would make certain that I didn't get any scratches or damages on the device to ensure a smooth return transaction. But even with all this, I would feel as though I was cheating the system for my own personal gain. This is a practice that I've never endorsed or successfully accomplished.

Then again, perhaps that explains a few things…

I'll definately be going to Japan with a camera. There are just way too many memories that will be made, and I want to have something to show everyone that can't come with me. I'm sure I could borrow the same camera I had used before, but I want something more. I want a device that will give me bigger and brighter images. I'll be in another country with my Reiko-chan … why would I want to settle for less?

So I guess that means the only question that remains is: which is the right camera?