Choosing a Digital Camera

Choosing a Digital Camera
Choosing a Digital Camera

With the vast selection of digital cameras, how do we know which one to buy? The prices of digital cameras has gone down, but why are consumers spending more money for even the most basic needs? Find out how you can find the just right digital camera at just the right price.

Basics to Remember When Deciding Which Digital Camera is Right for You.

With so many models and features to choose from, first-time purchasers of digital cameras have a tendency to make one of several mistakes:

  1. First-time purchasers have a tendency to ‘over-buy.’
  2. First-time purchasers have a tendency to make selection based on visual appeal alone.
  3. First-time purchasers have a tendency to make selection based on name brand alone.
  4. First-time purchasers have a tendency to make selection based on price alone.

Many people hold the false notion that the more expensive the camera, the higher quality it is and the better it performs.  This is not necessarily true.

I have actually witnessed first-time purchasers select a particular digital camera because they thought it was “cute.”  They didn’t have a clue as to what the capacities of the camera were.  Upon questioning, they weren’t even familiar with the term “resolution.”

The above pitfalls can easily be avoided and a more educated selection made by first deciding what the main purpose for the digital camera will be.  Determining its use will help to determine how much money should be invested, and what features are most important when making a selection.

For instance, will the main purpose of the digital camera be for personal use and convenience sake?  Taking photos to share with family and friends over the Internet, on a personal web site, or prints made from a color printer.

Will the camera be used for semi professional purposes?  A hobbyist involved in photography, perhaps, who will get a lot of use from the camera, perfecting technique and skill.

Or will the camera be used mostly for professional purposes by someone requiring the highest quality photos possible?  Photos that may end up published, or reprinted for sale purposes.

Obviously, defining the purpose and use of the camera will help to determine the type, quality, and price range to shop for.  Someone who wishes to purchase a digital solely to take pictures to send to Grandma of little Susie blowing out her birthday candles, or the new puppy chewing dad’s slippers, doesn’t require a $1,000+ camera with a lot of fancy extras.  Similarly, a professional photographer or a writer who takes pictures to accompany article submissions will be happiest with an upper-end camera with quality resolution.

Unless money is no object and you are the type of person who only wants “the best,” deciding upon the main purpose of the digital camera should be a first step in deciding what type of camera to buy.

After deciding purpose, you are now ready to decide what features to look for in a digital camera.  Do your homework.  Educate yourself as to what various features are available, and what each means.  Then, make a list of what you want in a camera.  This will help prevent over-buying, or purchasing a camera that lacks the overall performance you desire.

What to Look for When Shopping for a Digital Camera

Shopping for digital camera for the first time can be a confusing and daunting experience.  With so many models and features to select from, first-time purchasers often rely upon the advice of a sales person; someone who may not be all that knowledgeable about available products and features, or doesn’t know what the main function of the camera will be.  All of which are very important.

First-time purchasers also often make the mistake of purchasing a digital camera solely because of its appearance, brand name, or price.

There is a wiser method of determining which camera to buy.  First and foremost, determine the purpose for the camera.  Will it be for semi-regular personal use, to take photographs as a hobby, or for professional purposes?  Only after determining ‘why’ the camera is being purchased is it time to move on to what specific features are most desirable in a camera.

Maximum camera resolution is very important.  The resolution determines how many pixels make up a photo.  The term ‘Pixel’ is short for ‘picture element.’ Each pixel refers to a single point in an image.

Pixels are usually measured in horizontal x vertical resolution.  The higher the resolution is, the sharper the picture.  For the most part, higher-end cameras are capable of a higher resolution; lower priced cameras usually offer lower resolution capacity.

Because a higher resolution takes up more memory, most cameras offer several resolutions to select from.  If you want to e-mail photos to friends, a low resolution like 640 x 480 work’s fine.  If you want to print photos, a higher resolution is necessary for a clear picture that isn’t grainy.

Compression is another important aspect.  It is the process that shrinks a photo’s file size.  Pictures saved as JPEG files take up less memory space.  Compression also makes it faster to save and download photos; it makes it easier to send and download e-mail pictures.   However, compression affects image quality.

Because compression causes a small amount of data loss, if you want to take pictures for professional purposes, you might want a camera that can take uncompressed photos.

Memory to a digital camera equals film to a conventional camera.  It is storage space for pictures.  If you plan to download pictures from your digital camera to a computer or other source often, a camera with higher memory capacity might not be important.  However, if you take many pictures at one time without downloading, you will want a camera that has a lot of internal memory, or one with expandable memory so that you can purchase a large-capacity memory card.

These important aspects, along with required power source and connection functions, and consideration of extra features such as an LCD viewfinder, self-timer, built-in flash, and capacity for audio recording – and the price – should all enter into the decision making process when it comes to purchasing a digital camera.

Additional Features to Look for When Purchasing a Digital Camera

You've done your homework, and you can hardly wait to purchase your very first digital camera. You've carefully considered “why” you want the camera, and what function it will serve. You've also determined what resolution, compression, and memory capacities to look for when determining what camera to buy.

In addition to those listed above, there are several other things a wise consumer will want to consider. One such consideration is power source. That is because digital cameras require far more power to function than traditional cameras. Digital cameras use either traditional batteries, or a rechargeable battery pack; some also come with an AC adapter.

If the camera you select uses traditional batteries, you may want to invest in rechargeable batteries and a re-charger. Even if the camera comes with a rechargeable battery pack, consider purchasing an extra one so you never risk being without power.

Connection source and method are also important considerations. All digital cameras come with the software required to download pictures to a computer. Make sure the camera you select is compatible with your computer. Most high-end cameras come with software and connections for both Mac and PC computers.

Many digital cameras include the cables and/or cards required to connect it to your computer; others require that you purchase cables separately. Some cameras come with the added plus of image-editing software to enhance photo's appearance and quality.

Since digital cameras can use a variety of different interfaces, pay special attention to the requirements of the camera you select. Some use a serial or parallel interface. Some come with a PCMCIA interface for use with a notebook computer. Others use a wireless infrared that requires no cables or cards, or use 3.5-inch floppy disks instead of memory cards.

All these aspects are important considerations before purchasing a digital camera. Also to consider are extra features available that either enhance picture-taking ease, or add to the picture-taking experience and viewing pleasure.

Digital cameras that come with a LCD viewfinder are very popular. The viewfinder allows you to see exactly what the picture will look like before it is taken. It also allows you to look over other photos taken, and has a delete function to rid the memory card of unwanted photos.

The length of a camera's lens determines how much of a particular scene will fit into a picture. A telephoto lens allows for zoom shots of faraway objects, to make them look nearer. Anything shorter than 50mm is considered wide-angle (used for landscapes); anything longer is considered telephoto (for close ups).

A self-timer allows the picture taker to get into the photo. It also helps prevent camera shake caused by manually pushing the exposure button.

Some of the newer cameras have audio recording capacity, giving the option to record a personal sound bite into the photo. And some cameras include a “video out” function that allows the camera to be hooked up to a television to view the pictures.

Now slimmer, lighter, and more versatile than ever, a vase selection of digital cameras are available to consumers. Quality cameras priced anywhere from $250 to $1,000 plus. The purchase of a digital camera can be a very wise investment, indeed. Especially when considering the convenience it offers, and money saved from not having to purchase camera film.

Just the Right Digital Camera, at Just the Right Price!

With the vast assortment of digital cameras available on the market, in a wide range of prices, it isn't surprising many persons are confused and overwhelmed when it comes to purchasing one.

Don't be intimidated. Before shopping for a digital camera carefully consider the purpose the camera will be used for, as well as resolution, memory, connection requirements, and how much you are willing to spend.

If you aren't already familiar with term such as resolution, memory, compression, etc. the time to familiarize yourself with digital camera jargon is before shopping for one, not during or after.

By knowing exactly what you want and setting a price range ahead of time, you avoid the lure of unnecessary features you may never use or spending more than you can afford.

If you want a digital mainly for the purpose of taking family photos, a lower-end model might be all you need. Even then, consider resolution capabilities; the higher the resolution, the higher the quality of the photo.

Consider also memory space; the higher the quality of photo taken, the more memory it consumes. Cameras that convert photos to a JPEG file format on the memory card will enable you can take and store more photos before memory is used up.

If you are a beginner, you will want to also consider ease of use when making a digital camera purchase. Opt for a model that will be easy to operate and feels comfortable in your hand, with features such as automated flash. More experienced photographers will most probably desire more picture-taking options and greater user control.

If you plan on shooting a lot of close-ups you will want a camera with a powerful optical zoom; at least a 3x.

Decide whether you want your camera to hook up to just a PC, or whether you want the option of notebook computer compatibility, or viewing photos over the television.

Now that you have narrowed down what features you most desire in a camera, take another look at what you are willing to pay, or what you can afford. You may need to make camera feature or cost adjustments. For instance, if you must stay in the $200-$300 price range, and picture quality is of the utmost importance, you might have to forgo some of the optional features you wanted for a model with higher resolution (megapixels).

Do research on-line for digital camera models, features, and prices before making your purchase. This will help insure you have a realistic idea of what is available, and in what price ranges. Take note of top consumer choices, and reviews.

Even if you decide to buy online, visit stores that sell the name brand and model of the digital camera you have decided on; stores that allow customers to handle the cameras. Decide how the camera feels in your hand; clumsy, or comfortable? “Play” with the features, and take special note of the LCD screen.

Even if you don't think you need one, an LCD screen comes in handy, so be sure it is easy to see and shows good detail.

Does the camera use a rechargeable battery pack? If not, the purchase of rechargeable batteries and a re-charger for a camera that requires standard batteries might be wise. Remember, digitals require a lot of power. You don't want to risk missing out on great shoots just because the batteries died.

Once you have decided upon a particular model, shop around for the best price. Check on-line, and for sales in electronics stores. Oftentimes you will discover that purchasing a digital on-line will offer a greater selection for a better price.

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