Monday, August 14, 2006

Top 10 List for Buying a Digital Camera

by Ed Krimen - Published December 2003

For most people, choosing which digital camera to buy can be like exercising: You know it's the right thing to do, but the process can be so painful!

I hope that the following summary and in-depth article will help improve your understanding of the technical terms and jargon associated with digital cameras. My goal is to help you understand the most important criteria so that you can find the right digital camera for you.

No digital camera is perfect for everyone, but considering the variety of choices available today, you should be able to find a digital camera that's close to perfect for you -- and you should be extremely happy with your choice.

1. Type of digital camera
If you want a digital camera that's easy to use, one you can put in your purse or pocket, a digital camera to quickly take pictures of friends and family, then you want a point-and-shoot digital camera -- or what may be more commonly called compact or ultra-compact digital cameras. In the Photobird Digital Camera Buyer's Guide, they are referred to as compact and tiny digital cameras, respectively.

2. Price
Luckily, most of the point-and-shoot digital cameras are in the $200-$400 range. You should be able to get a digital camera that takes excellent photos at that price -- photos that are at least as good as consumer film-based cameras.

3. Size
Checking the actual, real-life size of the digital camera you are interested in and even "test driving" the digital camera in person is extremely important. Be sure to visit a physical store that sells the digital cameras you are interested in, or, if you like your friend's digital camera, ask to borrow it for a while to see if it fits you.

4. Easy to use
Finding an easy-to-use digital camera is important because you won't use it if it's too hard to take pictures. For the most part, point-and-shoot digital cameras are easy to use: Turn it on, and start clicking the shutter button to take pictures.

5. Popularity
You don't want to spend a lot of time looking for accessories for your digital camera, or trying to find help to answer a question or resolve a problem with your digital camera. Therefore, it's a good idea to purchase a digital camera that is relatively popular.

6. Features you want and need
Of course, be sure to get the features you want and need. This area is where digital cameras offer the most differences between manufacturers and even different models by the same manufacturer. You won't be able to find a digital camera with every feature you want, however, so you'll need to prioritize your needs and make some trade-offs.

7. Battery type
Regardless of the digital camera you get, you need to make sure you have enough battery power at all times. It's always best to have fully-charged, extra batteries with you in case you need them. You don't want to miss any shots.

8. Memory card storage -- your "electronic film"
If you're buying a new digital camera, it really doesn't matter which memory card type your digital camera uses. Focus more on which digital camera features you want, as listed above in item #6.

Keep in mind though that the various memory cards are not interchangeable. For example, you cannot use a Sony Memory Stick in a digital camera that uses CompactFlash, and you cannot use CompactFlash cards in a Secure Digital device.

9. Megapixels
The number of megapixels your digital camera has doesn't necessarily mean that you will get better pictures. When using the highest resolution settings on a 3-megapixel digital camera, you will get very good prints at the smallest print sizes all the way up to 8"x10", and sometimes larger.

The photos on the left were taken with a 3-megapixel digital camera and were printed at 11"x14" by an online photo print service. When printed at their highest resolution, most people can't tell if the photos were taken with a digital camera or a film camera.

10. Picture quality
Picture quality is last on the list because it's one of the few things you need to worry about when purchasing a point-and-shoot digital camera. Most, if not all, of the digital cameras available today meet a minimum level of picture quality that is suitable for the average consumer.



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