After 7 years of using, buying and shopping for digital cameras Iíve learned that there is a lot the consumer needs to know before buying a digital camera, and with so many different digital cameras out there, buying the right one has never been harder. My Camera Choices
First: The price tag is never a good indication on how good the digital camera is. For example, one digital camera is $200.00 the other $300.00 Sometimes the $200.00 camera is the better one and vise versa. One digital camera is $200.00 the other $250.00, the camera for $250.00 could be ten times better. So donít use the price tag as a guideline. To buy the best camera your budget will allow you have to do your homework. These links will help you in your homework, but always get a second opinion. Just because a so called expert recommends a certain product or that the product has great reviews will not guarantee you will get the camera that's right for you.
Camera Reviews DP Camera Labs Consumer Reports Cnet Digital Camera HQ
Tips on using your new Digital Camera and Home Printing Tips
Second: The amount of Mega Pixels (MP) is never a good indication on how good the photos will be, mostly just how much you can enlarge the photo and how much you can crop the photo. The quality of the camera, lens, settings and shooting conditions are more important factors, so a 4.0 MP digital camera is fine. Plus for a 8MP camera you will need a faster computer with more memory and a larger memory card for your camera. So unless you are going to utilize all those mega pixels you are better off with less then more. Most cameras today should be between 4MP & 12.5MP. So if you have to decide between a 5MP or a 10MP camera, the 5MP camera might be the better camera for your money and convenience, but you should still do your homework. Note: Now that most digital cameras are over 8MP doesn't mean you have to shot at the highest resolution. Set your camera to a lower resolution and only increase it to the maximum resolution when you want a bigger photo.
Third: Know the skill level of the person youíre buying the camera for. If you think that youíre going to want to learn more about photography or expand your creative ability, make sure the camera you buy has the necessary settings that will allow to expand your knowledge of photography and not limit your possibilities. Like manual settings and modes such as, exposure EV Compensation, white balance, focusing area, AE metering, sensitivity settings or ISO (50, 64, 80, 100, 200, 400), shutter speed, lens, macro, and a good flash just to name a few. Look for optical Zoom capabilities and not digital zoom. Digital zoom is too grainy and only good for reference and not good for printing photos. (note: 3x optical zoom, if the subject is 30 feet away the 3x zoom will make it seem like 10 feet away, (one more note: when using an optical zoom you will have more shake and lower quality pictures, so please use it wisely and try to use a tripod). (420mm lens is equal to 12x zoom). Now a lot of you are saying "I donít want all those confusing settings and modes". Donít worry, a good digital camera will have both automatic modes as well as manual settings so you can still take good photos in the automatic mode and not have to worry about the manual settings. That brings us to our third tip.
Fourth: Buy a camera that has a easy to use menu. Figuring out how to change the camera settings shouldnít give you a headache. So if youíre buying a camera with manual settings and multiple shooting modes, make sure that theyíre easy to find and easy to understand. If buying a camera without all the manual settings you should be paying much less for that camera then the camera that has all the manual settings.
Fifth: Read up on the camera that youíre interested in. Read Consumer Reports or any other publications that might give you some feed back. Warning! Consumer Reports are not as accurate as you think. Some of their testing procedures are vague and not fully accurate so be careful. They give data without fully explaining what it means to the consumer. Don't get me wrong they do a great job it's just that you should be careful what you read. See if the camera has good recommendations from photographers and other users of the same type of camera. Store clerks are useful sometimes but only if you know them and trust their knowledge.
Sixth: Now you donít have to own a computer or even know how to use a computer to own a digital camera. Most photo developing places today can handle digital cameras now. So you either bring in your camera or your memory card and they will print out your photos just like if it was a roll of film. The plus side of owning your own computer and having a printer is the ability to have your photos printed any time you take them. You also have more control over the quality and price because youíre doing it yourself. Plus you can review your images and pick out only the best ones to be printed. Remember, there will always be a learning curve when using a new digital camera so before you decide how good your camera is make sure you're using it correctly and know its limitations. Some cameras make claims on battery life and how many pictures you'll get from one charge. It's always less then what they say because people like to review pictures as they take them, and also the cold will effect battery life. So always carry extra batteries and have the capabilities to charge rechargeables because when the battery dies you cannot take photos. Camera Settings Checklist
I have some recommendations for cameras and accessories to help you save some time. Of course, I recommend that you do some comparison-shopping and some homework so that you feel more comfortable on your purchases that might be based just on my recommendation. Plus each camera maker has different models and types. So even the ones I recommend might have changed a little or are unavailable. But like I said above about the price, most camera makers are guilty of making horrible less expensive camera's just to lure the inexperience consumer. It's a very cruel practice so be aware. Pentax use to be my favorite but they decided to make cheaper inferior cameras, maybe because of greed or just bad decisions, who knows? Now my favorite all around cameras are made by Canon. My favorite camera's are below.
A good website to check for prices first before you buy is shopzilla
They show most of the top websites and the deals they are having.
If just starting out and you want a low cost beginner digital camera then I recommend the Kodak Digital Camera because it's easy to use and takes good photos. It also has very little lag time when focusing and clicking the shutter release button.
"SLR cameras (Single Lens Reflex) will always be the best camera choice because of their range and quality, 'but' only if you buy a good quality SLR". But I always have a smaller automatic camera as a back up or to use in situations were a big bulky SLR is not needed. I have taken some great photos with small digital cameras and compared them with my SLR and could sometimes not tell the difference in quality between the 2 cameras. So the convenience and mobility of the smaller point and shoot cameras really make them a great choice for any photographer.
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