Digital Camera Buying Guide

22nd November, 2008
digital cameras
Monty Alexander asked:

Planning to buy a digital camera? Not sure how to get started?

Read on to discover how…..

What do you need the camera for?

If you buy a simple one that can be used at home, you will not get interesting capabilities that you need for taking really good photographic pictures. On the other hand, it would be a waste of your money if you have the latest digital camera only to be used for personal photos at home.

Based on the purpose one can choose from the following main three types.

· Point and shoot: – reasonably compact, with features and size like 35mm cameras.

· Lifestyle: – with moderate features, it’s sleek and compact, so you can carry it around with ease.

· Professional: – with interchangeable lenses, flashes and other accessories, this camera is robust and feature laden, just the right choice for a professional or serious photographer.

These are the important features to look for?

Pixel resolution

Digital images are made up of dots called pixels. The higher the number of pixels in your image, the better will be the quality of the image. This will therefore enable you to enlarge your image to higher pixel dimensions without creating a pixilated (broken) image.

Compression

Compression shrinks a photo’s file size, thus accommodating more images in the memory card. However compression causes a small amount of data loss. If you need the absolute best-quality images, you have to consider buying a camera that takes uncompressed photos but will accommodate less number of images.

Memory

A camera’s memory size will decide the number of images that can be stored. Memory of 128MB will be good enough if you want to use the camera mostly at a social do or a party. If you are on a vacation or when you cannot download images for days at a stretch, a memory of 512MB to 1GB will be most favorable.

LCD screen

Most digital cameras come with at least an optical viewfinder but many digital cameras also come with an LCD screen built into the back. For a digital camera, they vary from 1.5-2.5 inches.

Lens

It is the length of a camera’s lens that determines how much of a scene will fit in a picture. A “Normal” lens is about 50mm, most closely approximate to what your eye sees.

Optical zoom

This enables the photographer to zoom in on an object without any problem in picture quality. Depending on the magnification number, you can zoom in more.

Digital zoom

This feature enables the photographer to zoom in on the centre of the picture by removing the edges of the image.

Focus an exposure

In most cameras, the correct exposure for the lighting conditions is automatically determined. A camera rated ISO 100, has approximately the same light sensitivity as that of a traditional film camera loaded with ISO 100 film. A higher ISO rating means that the camera is more sensitive to light and is potential enough to take pictures in darker settings.

Audio and Movie capture

This feature allows you to record sounds and moving images at the same time, in exactly the same way that a camcorder functions. Some digital cameras provide the facility to record a few seconds of audio with each shot, thus letting you add a personal sound bite to your photos.

Movie mode

This is a feature that lets you take short film clips with your camera. The total record length is typically limited to 10 to 90 seconds.

Flash

Most digital cameras come with an in-built flash. Some cameras however include additional features, such as red-eye reduction or night portrait mode.

Image erase

Most cameras also let you select pictures to erase. This handy feature gives you the chance to edit out the photos you don’t want in order to create space in the memory.

Self-timer

A self-timer allows your digital camera for a delayed exposure, usually giving you about 10 seconds before the picture is taken.

Computer connections

Most high-end cameras have software and connections for both Mac and PC computers. However it is necessary to make sure the digital camera you want is compatible with your platform before you buy it.

Image stabilization

This feature enables the photographer to capture still images of something moving very fast.

Printing

Nowadays you can buy special printers, depending on the compatibility of your camera, to print off your pictures without connecting it to a PC. This applies both for digital and SLR Professional cameras.

How important is size and portability to you?

Size is another very important factor to consider. If you are to use the camera for non professional purposes the size has to be small as you cannot afford to carry huge sized cameras when you are enjoying a trip.

What is your budget?

Based on the budget the features will vary and the overall offering of a camera. Today’s digital cameras run anywhere from Rs 800 to Rs 30,000, depending on resolution and features. While the initial expense of a digital camera is still high you may find that the added convenience and savings in film and processing costs are worth it.

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