What kind of digital camera should I buy?
Before you purchase a digital camera there are some things you should know.
If you have never purchased a digital camera or have bought one but didn’t know what you really needed to buy, this can be a very daunting task. Heaven knows, every person you ask their opinion on the subject matter will give you a completely different version of the must have’s for your digital camera needs. Before going to a store or asking your friends for their personal opinions, take the time to read up on the different options now available to digital camera owners and decide for yourself what you must have and what really doesn’t matter to your camera needs. We have provided you with a list of items everyone should consider when purchasing their next digital camera and a detailed explanation of what each item means to the everyday photographer.
Megapixel simply means how many millions of square dots make up your picture. Not so simple? OK, one megapixel equals 1 million microscopic square dots. If your camera is 2 megapixels then each of your pictures is comprised of 2 million square dots. The more megapixels your camera uses the higher quality your pictures. Currently, you can purchase a digital camera ranging from 2 to over 9 megapixels. As expected the lower the megapixels a camera offers the lower the price and the higher the megapixels the higher the price. While a camera that offers 2 megapixels won’t be great for making prints it is great for children to use or to simply email pictures. If your goal is to take pictures well suited to print in 4×6 you would be very safe in choosing a digital camera with about 4 megapixels. If you believe you may opt to make larger prints from your pictures you should strongly consider making the investment in a digital camera that offers at least 7 megapixels. One fact to remember is that as new technology emerges on a daily basis the older technology becomes cheaper. If you are eyeing a 10 megapixel digital camera but are not quite ready to swipe your charge card consider waiting a couple of months and see if the price comes down a little; on the other hand if you make the investment on such a quality camera your investment will come back to you ten fold as you see the beautiful pictures you take come to life in prints.
Glass Lens’ are important when purchasing your camera. Many times you may read that the lens is made of plastic and while not all plastic lenses are bad they will never offer you the clarity that a glass lens does. The simplest way to explain the theory is to imagine a pair of eye glasses. Now, would you rather look through a plastic lens with imperfections throughout or a pure piece of glass with no imperfections? In the realm of digital photography there are so many factors in what constitutes a good picture and before you ever get to that point you have to have a good starting point, which in this case would be a clear image captured for your digital camera to work it’s magic on.
RAM stands for Random Access Memory. In terms of your digital camera this equates to being able to hold more pictures in your camera without sacrificing the quality of your pictures before you have to transfer your pictures to your computer. Most digital cameras hold their pictures on memory cards or sticks so this may not be a large factor in your choice, however if you believe you would prefer not to depend on using a memory card make sure the digital camera you choose has a high RAM.
Zoom is defined in optical and digital zoom. You should never compare the digital to optical zooms, only compare digital to digital and optical to optical zooms. Digital zoom is basically a cropping tool that can also be used in a software editing program on your computer once your pictures are transferred over. Basically, when you use your digital zoom you bring the entire picture closer and crop out the edges of the image. When you use your optical zoom your camera’s lens actually moves closer to the image, therefore creating a better quality image. Having both optical and digital zoom on your camera is a good thing but make sure and learn how to use both features in the right photo opportunity.
Flash is another component of the digital camera’s ability you should compare when searching. The flash is a short burst of light used to illuminate the image you are photographing. Cameras can have many flash modes used in different settings or lighting opportunities. The more flash modes your camera offers, the more options you will have when taking photos in different lighted settings. You should read your owner’s manual carefully to fully understand the functions of each flash setting to achieve optimal photographed images.
Viewfinders are a little more in depth when you actually research what they do for your final photographed images than one may imagine. There are four viewfinder options: Optical Viewfinder on Digital Compact Camera, LCD on Digital Camera, Optical Viewfinder on Digital SLR Camera, and the Electronic Viewfinder on Digital Compact Camera. The Optical Viewfinder on a Digital Compact Camera is the small opening you look through when taking the picture, think about your last 35mm camera and how you positioned your shots and this is what we are talking about here. The problem with these viewfinders is that there is a difference between what you are seeing through the viewfinder and the actual image taken by the camera due to the two different locations of the viewfinder and lens on your camera. The LCD on a Digital Camera is the small screen that shows as a live shot of your photo subject. This viewfinder allows you to see exactly the same image your camera will capture. The downfall of the LCD Viewfinder is that its constant use will drain your battery and in bright settings it may be difficult to see and you will have to resort to using your Optical Viewfinder. The Optical Viewfinder on a SLR Digital Camera combines the best features of the Optical and LCD Viewfinders. This viewfinder requires you to look through the small opening like in the Optical Viewfinder but there is a mirror over the lens that allows you to see exactly what the lens sees and as you depress the shutter button the mirror flips up allowing the image to be taken. The Electronic Viewfinder, again, is a combination of the Optical Viewfinder and the LCD Viewfinder but in a different fashion than just mentioned. With the Electronic Viewfinder the image is shown in very small screen where you would typically find the Optical Viewfinder.
Accessory features such as auto focus, macro features, shutter release lat times, bundled software and many others are the icing on the cake as far as digital camera are concerned. Most digital cameras will offer a variety of options in this department and you should decide what is important to your personal photography goals and make sure the camera you choose offers them. From one camera to the next, each item will function in the same manner so there is really no comparing necessary. Just make sure you know what they are and how to use each of them because these small features can actually make a good photograph a great photograph when used properly.
Removable Media is simply the means in which you are saving your photographs such as media cards, media sticks, etc. There really is no one option better than another except when you are talking storage space. The more storage space available on your removable media, the better. When you begin to fill up your media card your picture quality will suffer and once it is full you have three options: do not take anymore pictures, use a back up media card or transfer your images to your computer. This is one case where you can make the determination of what your personal needs are after purchasing your digital camera and buy your removable media later.
Batteries are a touchy subject with many avid photographers. There are digital cameras that use regular batteries and rechargeable batteries. Again, this is a personal preference option. Which would you rather use and are you willing to carry an extra set of? You can also research any battery life saving options the digital cameras you are looking at offers, such as turning off the LCD option. Just remember, it is “Murphy’s Law” that as soon as you have the perfect photo opportunity your batteries will die. So, make sure you are prepared for this to happen because it is not a matter of if but when it will happen!
Additional Options such as USB or IEEE connectivity, battery indicator, and output options are available in different combinations with every camera. Is your computer better suited for USB or IEEE connections? Would you like to see when you are close to running out of battery life? Would you like to be able to use video cables to connect your camera to a TV and show your photographs on a larger screen? These are options that you should consider before making your digital camera purchase.
With all of the information available on digital cameras it can become overwhelming and exhausting deciding which information is valuable and what is purely opinion. We hope the information provided has brought more understanding to you and has helped you better judge what is important to you in your next digital camera. Always remember, a picture is worth a thousand words but a great picture is priceless.