It’s so convenient to capture memories with camera phones. The best part about a camera phone is it is always with you, so you can be ready when the unexpected photo moment occurs.

The problem is, most of us leave them in digital format and don’t follow through and turn them into printed pictures. What good is a picture if you can’t show it off in a frame, photo album, or wallet? It is quite easy to turn those digital files into prints that will last a lifetime.

New phones are equipped with high-megapixel cameras, capable of taking print-quality images. They also come with different features that enable easy transfer of pictures to memory cards, printers, and computers.

Look for the following features in a camera phone:

At least 2 megapixels. Higher megapixel lenses are better for producing more detailed photos. Make sure your camera has at least a 2-megapixel camera if you want to print good quality 4-by-6 photos. VGA (640-by-480) quality will not be good enough for photo-quality prints; however, it may produce an acceptable picture, especially if it’s the only one you’ve captured of an important memory.

Autofocus, zoom, flash. Some higher-end camera phones have features such as optical zoom, autofocus, and built-in flash that are common on digital cameras. Each will help enhance your print quality. Autofocus provides better photo quality than fixed-focus, since autofocus lenses can be larger and allow more light to reach the sensor. It is possible to produce decent quality prints using a fixed-focus lens. If you have the option, always select a phone that gives you the highest quality.

Bluetooth. Make sure your phone supports a removable memory card. Standard memory card size on typical mobile phones varies greatly today. Larger size memory cards are available to purchase, and will store significantly more print-resolution images. Camera phones with removable memory cards allow the most flexibility for quick printing.

PictBridge. PictBridge is a standard way for digital cameras to print photos by directly connecting to a printer using a USB cable. Some camera phones are sold with a USB cable. Look for a PictBridge logo on the printer to determine whether the printer is PictBridge compatible.

Memory card. Make sure to confirm settings on your camera phone to automatically save images to the removable memory card. Some phones will save camera images to the internal phone memory by default. Limited memory on the phone may require you to remove or delete images before you can take and save additional pictures. It can also make it difficult to access these images for later printing.

Print Applications for Smart Phones. Most smart phones come with a 3-megapixel camera or higher and include great features like autofocus and macro lenses for close-up photography. Getting mobile with your memories is as easy as point and tap or click. Smart phones such as the iPhone make transferring digital images to a PC easy with available software like iTunes and MobileMe. Simply email your images to your computer or send them wirelessly over Bluetooth, making it easy to print and share.

Finally, be creative! There are so many more options these days than the traditional 4-by-6 print. With all the ways available to print and show off your pictures, it’s almost a shame to print just a 4-by-6 snapshot. Retailers offer fun and unique ways to preserve your memories.

Ask retailers what print options they provide. Chances are a local retailer will have unique gift merchandise that will show off your pictures in more ways than the traditional print.

Prepared by PMA. For more information visit www.pmai.org