Whether you are going to head off to university next year or are thinking about presents for this Christmas, then you might want to think about asking for a digital camera. A digital camera is not quite an essential item for students but if you want to remember your friends, nights out and all the great times you are about to have in the next 3-5 years then a camera will definitely help jog the memories.
So you are a skint student, not fussed about good photography, just want something to remember the night. Well the cheapest reasonable camera we could find was Fujifilm FinePix AV200 Digital Camera priced just under £60. While not a top of the range compact camera it will still take good photos and you will still be able to work out what happened on the night. It is certainly a massive step up from your average phone camera. It also has face detection to make taking drunken photos that bit easier. Finally it is capable of taking video, a must for recording those memorable moments.
If you are not particularly fussed about getting a high end camera but want to take some decent photos of your friends when you go out for the night then a decent compact camera is probably the best thing for you. Small, compact, can fit into a pocket and probably can cope with being dropped once or twice!
My personal recommendation for a compact camera for uni is a Canon IXUS 115 HS. It is a good quality camera, robust and takes amazing photos. Its is especially good for nights out as it can fit inside your pocket. Be careful though as small means you can easily lose it, and the big screen is prone to scratch while in your pocket.
At 12.1 MP you will also want a heft sized 4G or 8GB memory card to go with the camera, otherwise you will soon be running out of space for your snapshops!
If you plan on doing something slightly more crazy with your camera, like caving, climbing, or underwater photography then the Canon Powershot D10 might be more of interest to you. My girlfriend uses her D10 in caves where withstanding water, mud and a general battering is very important, so far it has lived and some of the photos she has taken are superb. The only downside is that as a compact camera the built in flash can lead to some distorted colours in the images taken underground.
If you want to take high quality photos and don’t mind spending that extra bit of money then a DSLR is the way to go! They allow you to experiment alot more with settings, and often have things missing on basic compact cameras such as manual focus. SLRs can also be modified in the way of additional lenses and flash guns all of which you to take advantage to get the best photos. The best entry level SLRs are the Nikon D3000 and the Canon 450D. I have a D60 a predecessor of the D3000, and you can see the quality of the photos it takes on my Flickr, if you are keen on amateur photography it is definitely worth upgrading to an SLR.
Once you have your photos, you may just be happy to leave them be, but sometimes a bit of cropping or editing might just make them that bit better! My recommendations for photo editing software are Adobe Photoshop CS5 if you have about £160 to spend, alternatively I find Paintshop Photo Pro X3 a good alternative, its not as crammed with features but it is a quarter of the price.