Ques: I don't understand why people scan their photos when there are digital cameras that will make a better copy. I recently took pictures of my family's heritage photos with my digital camera and they look like the originals.
Using a digital camera to "scan" a print may do in a pinch, Angela, but it may not satisfy you in the long run.
First and foremost, the problem is one of resolution: There is a lot of information locked in a print that you can't capture with your digital camera. A good scanner can capture a wider range of colors and more tonal range (such as bright highlights and deep shadows) than a digital camera can. In addition, a digital camera has only a fraction of a scanner's resolution. So a picture captured with a digital camera is more like a fair-quality color photocopy than a true clone of the original, and it won't suit you well if you later want to make a large print from the digital copy.
And that doesn't even get into other, more practical downsides, like the fact that when using a digital camera instead of a scanner it's easy to accidentally get part of the picture slightly out of focus. Worse, if the lighting isn't just right, you can add a color cast to the new digital image or get overexposed "hot spots" from the ambient lighting.
Bottom line: If you're really careful when you take the shots and you don't plan to use the pictures for important family archives or oversized printing, using a digital camera is a reasonable alternative to a scanner. But otherwise, I highly recommend buying a scanner.
Via PC World's Digital Focus