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In browsing the display in one store's window on New York's Fifth Avenue recently, I was amazed to see at least 50 cameras, from under $15 point-and-shoot models to $2,000 autofocus SLRs.

Intermixed with the mountain of cameras were boxes of yellow, green, blue and orange film, made by Kodak, Fuji, Konica and Agfa, respectively.I wondered: With such a wide range of cameras, and with so many different types of film, how can consumers possibly choose the camera and film that is best for them?

For the casual picture-taker, price is often a determining factor in choosing a camera. But for aspiring photographers, features-benefits, end-results, and the ability to "grow" with their camera or camera system are all considerations.

To help guide this latter group of photographers through the task of choosing a camera and selecting the right film for a particular shooting situation, Popular Photography magazine recently published a 232-page source book called "The Photo Information Handbook 95-96."

"The Photo Information Handbook 95-96" is designed as a convenient, up-to-date version of a photographer's personal notebook; it offers a wealth of information on all common (and not-so-common) aspects of still photography.

In addition to camera charts that compare just about every camera, feature for feature, there's information on accessories, such as lenses, filters, flashes, tripods, teleconverters, handheld meters and camera bags. With this information, you can choose a camera or camera system that meets your needs and your budget.

The film chart in "The Photo Information Handbook 95-96" is comprehensive, too. It compares grain, resolution, sharpness, color saturation and contrast of most color slide and negative films. This technical information gives you a starting point for selecting a film. From that point, you can decide on which film is your personal favorite.

You will also find some useful photography tips and techniques in the handbook, including such topics as using window light, how to photograph flowers, perfect baby photos, landscape techniques and the ABC's of photography.

The Photo Information Handbook 95-96 is available from the publisher for $3.95 plus $2 shipping. Write: Photo Information Handbook 95-96, ISI, 1407 Patterson Plank Road, Bergen, NJ 07047.

- WANT SOME BASIC information on taking everyday pictures? The Photo Information Council offers a free brochure called "365 Ways To Take Great Pictures." You can get your copy of the 16-page, full-color brochure by calling PIC's toll-free number: 800-599-5929.