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What Should I Look for in a Digital Camera?

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  • Originally Written By: K. Waterman
  • Revised By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2016
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There are many different digital cameras on the market, though most people look for three main things when making their choice: resolution, storage capacity, and special features. Considering your own specific needs and situation is also an important part of the equation. Cameras can be small enough to fit into a pocket or purse or large enough to need their own dedicated carry bag, and the price range can also be quite large. Finding the best model is usually a matter of identifying the device that can do the most important things really well while fitting into your lifestyle.

Resolution

One of the most important things most people care about in a camera is the quality of the photos it takes. In the digital realm, quality is usually described in terms of “resolution,” which in turn is measured in pixels. A pixel is a very small piece of the larger image. Cameras with low resolution capture images using a smaller number of pixels than do those with high resolution. The higher the resolution, the clearer and crisper the image is, and the easier it is to be enlarged and formatted, too.

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Digital cameras generally range from 2.0 megapixels to 5 and above. In general, the newer the camera the higher its resolution, as consumers seem to be increasingly looking for detail and color accuracy in their images. Older digital technology and some of the earliest camera models typically used under 2.0 megapixels. Some cell phone cameras also have very low resolution ratings.

Storage Capacity

You’ll also want to think about how much memory a camera has, which is to say, how many photos you can store on the device at any given time. Digital photography doesn’t use standard film, but rather relies on internal disk storage. Most mid-priced cameras do not contain very much storage space, and as a result users have to download their images to a computer or other hard drive somewhat regularly in order to keep taking new shots.

People who know they’re going to be shooting a lot of photos at once — people who travel a lot, for instance, or those who regularly take entire photo shoots of things like weddings — often buy cameras with a lot of storage to start with. You can also add memory later on, just as you can for a computer. It’s usually pretty inexpensive to add memory by using a small card that pops into the camera. These disks can frequently be purchased with capacities between 64MB all the way up to 2 gigabytes. Many people store photos on memory cards on a more or less permanent basis, swapping the cards out with new ones rather than downloading and deleting the images.

Special Features

Digital cameras come with an assortment of options and features that you’ll also want to evaluate. Some can use wide-angle and telephoto lenses for added flexibility, for instance, and others have the ability to shoot video or panoramic shots as well as standard photos. It’s also important to determine how easily the photos can be downloaded for storage or sharing and how easy they are to print. Some models come with docking systems that easily transfer the digital images to the computer. The images can then be modified using special editing software, stored to the hard drive or CD-ROM, and even emailed directly.

Factor in Your Lifestyle

Things like overall size and price are also important factors for many people. You’ll need to determine how you think you’ll be using the camera as well as what you can afford, then find a camera that fits both criteria. The sheer number of choices can make shopping overwhelming if you don’t enter the process with some idea of what you want and what’s most important to you.

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dkarnowski
Post 6

Unfortunately, while I can agree with some of the previous commentators about the size and simple functions of point and shoot style cameras, as a professional shooter, there is no replacement on the market for a high quality and heavily built digital single lens reflex camera system.

These highly specialized and customizable machines are modern works of engineering art. I am in love with the ability for these devices to constantly amaze me and make my life as a professional photographer easier. Only with the pro quality builds and functions of these cameras am I able to perform the quality of work that my clients demand from me.

The very basic need to switch lenses is an advantage

that I could not go without. When I come into a situation that I need to photograph a specific way, the choices I have to make usually deal with what lens to use and what kind of external lighting will be needed.

These are options that you don't get with basic cameras nor are they options that come at a cheap price. Everything related to professional photography is expensive but well worth it when you see the work of art that the light creates as it hits the elements of glass in your lens and finally onto the sensor. It's like we have the ability to capture the image of god.

NightChef
Post 5

Besides simplicity and resolution, when I look for a digital camera, it's all about size. While I do want some of the features that advanced cameras can provide, I also want portability. If I can't stick the camera inside of my pocket and leave quickly, what is the point? I do not want a large and heave single lens reflex camera hanging from my shoulder all the time but the use of my cellphone's camera just doesn't cut it.

There are some more advanced compact cameras coming to the market and I have been very impressed with the digital camera comparisons that are now coming out as they are giving these new compact cameras a very high rating.

Compact digital cameras will someday rule the market as the features of large and expensive cameras finally trickle their way down into the hands of consumers that can finally afford them. People like small things and unless you have issues with dropping things, something that performs the same way but is smaller is always more desired then the larger version. Cameras also follow this logic and I can't wait for the new generation of compacts to hit the stores.

MrPolitic99
Post 4

I think that it is ridiculous that so many of these digital camera manufacturers focus on the race to the highest megapixel amount so they can market it to the consumer as the best. This use of resolution as the sole marketing specification should be a major deterrent to potential buyers. One must understand that there is much more then just the amount of pixels on the sensor of a camera that will determine its quality.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not all about the amount of pixels that determine a sensor quality. Other determining factors such as the actual sensor size will also effect overall image quality when you finally start taking pictures with the camera. For

instance, if two cameras both have the same resolution of 12 megapixels but one of the cameras has a large actual sensor size, there will be a discernible difference in the actual image quality.

By cramping more and more pixels onto a smaller sensor you will degrade the ability for the senor to collect light. Under identical circumstances and using the same lens, it is ideal to have a larger sensor then a smaller one. Depending on the form factor of the camera that you desire, this may or may not be an option. The other problem with seeking out a larger sensor size is the cost that is associated with purchasing a large sensor camera.

Often the largest sensors are found in digital slr cameras. The full frame style chips that are offered in some single lens reflex cameras are very pricey and often cost more then two thousand dollars. Only serious photographers and hobbyist will be able to consider this type of purchase.

sammyG
Post 3

I have found that my point and shoot style camera is perfect for what I need. It's not the cheapest digital camera available on the market today but it is surely near the bottom. While I do want to have quality built electronics in the things that I purchase, I also have no need for many of the insanely obnoxious advanced settings and features that the expensive cameras have. For me it was about purchasing a camera that was high enough resolution to make some decent sized prints with and fast enough to keep up with basic action shots.

The automatic modes included on the camera work great and I have never had the need to try and use

a manual setting on my camera. I think that only people who are trying to accomplish a very specific shot are actually going to need any kind of manual exposure settings.

The dials are all large and easy to read, the menus systems are functional and provide step by step instructions for what I need to do. These simple and yet digital cameras are the kind that are aimed at people like me who strive for simplicity in the sometimes overly complicated nonsense that makes up consumer electronic devices.

ivanka
Post 2

For nature lovers, there is a new digital camera on the market that has no lens, but has a telescope instead. It is a very high resolution camera that can capture pictures that are rich in details.

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