Digital Camera Buying Guide

Are you ready for a new digital camera? Whether you’re shopping for your first one or upgrading for more sophisticated features, here’s a look at the most important aspects of choosing a digital camera:


Once a key selling feature for a digital camera, the megapixel rating is typically not a concern with today’s high-resolution cameras. For most casual shutterbugs and even enthusiasts, the image resolution of even the most basic point-and-shoot digital cameras is more than sufficient. Remember, a camera rated at, say, 12 megapixels will not necessarily take better photos than a lower-resolution model, and in fact may even take lower-quality photos under some lighting conditions. Most digital imaging experts urge shoppers to make body style and features the driving factors.


You have more choices than ever when it comes to the various sizes and shapes of digital cameras. Here’s a look at the types of cameras you’re likely to find as you shop:

● D-SLR A Digital Single Lens Reflex is similar to film-based 35mm cameras. It features a large, professional-style camera body, interchangeable lenses and an optical viewfinder. D-SLRs generally offer the best image quality and versatility.

● Compact System/Mirrorless/Hybrid These offer many of the benefits of an entry-level D-SLR, namely interchangeable lenses and high-quality images, in a smaller, lighter body.

● Megazoom These offer a fixed-lens, large optical zoom range (up to 30x) and advanced in-camera features.

● Pocket Megazoom An advanced point and shoot with high-zoom retractable lens offering anywhere from about 10x to 15x optical zoom.

● Advanced Point and Shoot A step-up from an entry level point-and-shoot, advanced models offer some manual controls, increased performance and more advanced features and exposure settings.

● Basic Point and Shoot These are the perfect everyday cameras. They’re compact, easy to use and offer ample scene modes for the casual photographer.


Here are some popular features you’ll find on today’s digital cameras:

Shooting modes with preset exposures for a variety of scenes and lighting scenarios
Face detection that optimizes exposure and focus on people in your photos
Smile detection waits until the instant your subject smiles to snap the picture
Blink detection alerts you if anyone in your shot blinked
Red-eye reduction flashes twice to eliminate the annoying red-eye effect
Focus assist light uses an LED bulb to assist with autofocus in low-light scenes
GPS enables the camera to “geotag” your photos with the exact locations you took them
WiFi lets you upload photos directly to social media and photos sharing sites, digital photo frames and other networked devices
Video mode lets you shoot high-definition video

Adjustable Features

Which manually adjustable features– flash, zoom, exposure, and focus settings–will make a difference to the kind of pictures you want to take?


There are several considerations when determining a camera’s speed:

● Shutter Lag
Shutter lag is the delay that occurs between the time you press the “capture” button on a digital camera and when the picture is actually taken. If you’re photographing sports or quick action events, shutter lag may cause you to capture the moment after the one you really wanted to capture.

● Power-up
There’s nothing more frustrating than missing a candid shot because you were waiting for your camera to “boot” up. Power-up speeds can vary greatly, so be sure to test it out.

● Continuous Shooting
Continuous shooting or “burst” mode is the camera’s ability to take multiple photos in rapid succession. This spec is usually listed in the product literature.

Ease of Use

When looking at cameras, take the time to notice ease-of-use features. For example, you may prefer a camera with a separate viewfinder, larger buttons or on-screen guidance. Here are a couple of things to notice:

● Menus
Are they easy to navigate? Are some of the most-used functions, like flash and exposure, easy to find?

● Buttons
Do you require larger buttons? Are you able to find and read the smaller buttons on compact and ultra-compact models?

● Owner’s manual
Is information easy to find? Are the directions easy to follow?

● Battery life
Does the built-in battery pack offer enough battery life for shooting needs? Or should you purchase an additional battery, or a battery pack that accepts disposables?

● On-screen help
Does the camera offer an on-screen help feature?


Before you complete your purchase, be sure to consider some of the essential extras:

● Card reader
Connects to your PC like a hard drive, letting you import images from your memory card much faster than using the camera itself.

● Extra card
With flash memory cards so cheap, it is very convenient to have an extra card or two.

● Wireless Wi-Fi
Card Upload photos and videos wirelessly to your computer or the web.

● Extra battery
Avoid running out of power by carrying an extra battery pack.

● Mini tripod
These pocket-sized wonders can be twisted and contorted in any number of positions to help you get the perfect shot.

● Dock for uploading and charging
A dock makes charging and uploading photos to your PC a breeze.

● Camera Case
Cameras can be expensive, a case can protect your investment. 

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