Suggestions for Digital Camera Purchasing

I often get asked for ideas and suggestions for buying digital cameras – so here are some of things I suggest to keep in mind when shopping:

  • Resolution is important, that is the number of MegaPixels (MP) that a camera has, but it is NOT always the most important thing. Do go for the largest MP you can get, but also keep the other things below in mind…
  • Buy a digital camera from people who have been making film cameras – the main workings of a camera (lens, shutter, etc) have not changed from the days of film – we just replaced the film with a computer sensor. The better the lens, the better the camera, the better the photos. I tend to prefer: Nikon, Canon, Olympus and Fuji cameras – those companies made film and film cameras for years. Kodak and Sony also make some good models.
  • Ask yourself what you plan to do with it? Do you want it to fit in your pocket? This will help you decide between a compact point-and-shoot (fits in your pocket) or a full DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera – those that look like the traditional 35mm camera with the big lenses. If it fitting in your pocket is the most important thing, go for a smaller point-and-shoot, if you want flexibility and ability to have full control over everything (shutter, aperture, ISO, etc) then you need a DSLR. If you want something in between – there are cameras for that as well… Most general home users don’t need a DSLR – DSLRs are usually considered “hobbyist” or “pro-sumer” cameras – largely due to their cost and size.
  • Go for the biggest OPTICAL ZOOM you can find – and this is very important – ignore the “digital zoom” – that just reduces the quality, and besides, you can do that by cropping and sizing the photo afterward on your computer. The bigger the zoom, the closer you can get – this is especially nice at concerts, or if you are taking photos of birds, etc.
  • Ask yourself how much you want to spend? DSLRs typically start around $500 – and that doesn’t include a lens – a good starter DSLR kit will typically run around $750. If you aren’t quite ready for that kind of investment, then one of the larger bodied “compact, DSLR-like” cameras maybe good for you. They are larger than the pocket cameras, but not quite as large as a DSLR. They don’t have interchangeable lenses – but they usually have larger lenses that go from wide-angle to zoom (12-20x is not unusual). Saw a camera advertised in the Sunday newspaper (it was a Canon camera I believe) with a 21x optical zoom and 14.1MP for around $300. I’d say this is a good, general home user camera for most people.

Examples of Camera Styles:

These are not meant to be endorsements for a specific camera – just showing the difference between the styles of cameras…