Digital Camera Buying Guide

If you want high-quality photos  from the newest technology, it may be time to consider the rising trend of digital cameras .  However, with so many options to choose from, selecting a digital camera  can sometimes be overwhelming.  Whether you are new to the world of digital photography  or a seasoned artist looking for an upgrade, our guide will help you sort through camera types, models, and prices for the best fit to suit your needs.      

Getting Started

In product descriptions, phrases like pixels ,compression ,SD Cards ,LCD screens ,optical zoom , and digital zoom , may all seem like a foreign language, leaving you with no clue as to where to begin.  Let's start by deciphering this common camera lingo.  This will make you more knowledgeable about what you are looking to buy.

  • Pixels : These are individual dots that make up a picture. In other words, the more pixels, the higher the resolution  of a picture . The higher the resolution, the better and crisper looking the images  can be. For internet sharing of pictures or a multimedia  demonstration, a 3-4 megapixel  camera will suffice.  For quality printing  of 8x10 photos, 5 megapixels or greater are the better bet.
  • Compression :   Images are compressed when they are being saved into a camera's memory .  This means eliminating some data to reduce the size of the file.  There are several means of compression , but the most common for cameras is JPEG .  For flexibility, select a camera that allows you to choose two or more compression amounts so that you can compress a lot or a little, depending on what type of picture quality  you are going for.
  • Memory : Some cameras have a built-in memory , while others rely on removable media  such as an SD card  for image storage . 
  • LCD Screen : The LCD  serves as a small monitor , showing the camera's menus, settings, and previously taken images. This also functions as a large viewfinder on most digital cameras.  
  • Optical Zoom: This type of zoom works just like a film camera would. The image quality will stay the same if it is in the zoom range.
  • Digital Zoom: The image crops to a smaller size, and then the enlarged cropped portion fills the screen again.

Learning Camera Categories

What camera type is right for you?  Digital cameras  often fall into many overlapping categories , based upon their level of pixels ,controls ,lens  type, and other add-ons  that they may feature.  Take a look at the categories to determine the differences.

Point and Shoot Models

This is the most inexpensive type of digital camera .  Most Point and Shoot  models can do just about everything that a basic 35mm camera  could do, only it automates everything!  You point and shoot, and the camera does the rest. They feature a 3+ megapixel resolution, a built-in flash ,  removable storage, and a modest zoom  that provides minimal magnification. You will get automatic exposure  but with little manual controls.

Sony CyberShot DSC-W50 

Canon PowerShot A460 

Kodak EasyShare C613 

Fujifilm Finepix A340 

Intermediate Models

Intermediate cameras  are the most widely used.  They have a valuable compromise of features and seem to suit most customers. Intermediate digital cameras feature 6-8 megapixels  in resolution, a 4:1 zoom lens ,Flash  or SD storage , different exposure modes , close-up focusing, and manual controls.

Samsung DigiMax S500 

Olympus FE280 

Canon PowerShot SD1000 

Nikon Coolpix L18 

Advanced Consumer Models

These cameras come with even more special digital features , but will also cost you a few hundred more pounds than an Intermediate or Point and Shoot Model. Advanced Models are generally 8-10 megapixels , sometimes with a 10:1 or better zoom.  You can also find many controls and settings to play with and customize, along with optional exposure modes .  Advanced Models often offer many add-on accessories , such as wide-angle  or telephoto attachments , as well as external flash  units and filters .

Casio Exilim EX-Z100 

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5K 

Nikon Coolpix S52 

Kodak EasyShare Z885 

"Prosumer" Models

"Prosumer" is a term fusing the words 'professional' and 'consumer' together.  Huge photo buffs and even professional photographers  favour this model for a multitude of reasons, and are willing to spend the thousands of pounds that it may cost. These cameras feature a minimum of 8 megapixels , with an electronic or through-the-lens viewfinder  that lets you evaluate and focus on your subjects through the same lens  used to take the picture.  They either have a great quality zoom lens  in the 10:1 magnification range, or have interchangeable lenses  similar to a 35mm film camera .   Expect automated  and manual controls and focus, plus automated exposure modes  and manual shutter speed  with lens focusing as an option."Prosumer" models take around 2-3 pictures per second, and serve as a great backup camera to professionals.

Fujifilm Finepix S8100fd 

Canon S5 IS 

Sony DSC-R1 

Konica Minolta DiMAGE A200 

Professional Models

Professional digital SLR (single lens reflex) cameras can cost up to tens of thousands of pounds, and have the features to match.   They say that if you can't do it with one of these, it can't be done. You can expect up to 16 megapixels  in these cameras, and can fit standard interchangeable lenses with them while retaining a sophisticated autoexposure  and autofocus .  The speed of these cameras takes 5 or more photos in one second, a rapid must for many professional photographers .  Another plus is that these Professional Models can store more than 1GB  of memory  in their hard drives , and that is a tremendous amount of pictures .

Canon 300D 

Kodak DCS Pro 14n 

Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D 

Nikon D300 

Accessories For Your Digital Camera

Once you have a camera selected, have fun enhancing its capabilities with various camera accessories!

Camera Tripods 

Camera Lenses

Digital Camera Bags 

Digital Imaging Software 

Photo Printers

International Resources

For this resource in your home country, please see:
NL: Digitale Camera's Shopgids

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