guide for finding the best digital camera
you ready to take the plunge into the world of digital photography?
This series of articles will help you choose the best camera for
first thing to consider is why you want a digital camera. The answer
to this question will form the basis of all your other buying decisions.
If you simply want to send snapshots by e-mail or post images on
the Internet, you don't need a high resolution camera. If you want
to print digital photographs, however, you need a camera with more
cameras are rated by the number of megapixels (millions of pixels)
they can record. This is also referred to as their 'resolution'
and is the single most important factor affecting the price of digital
cameras. Quite simply, the more megapixels the higher the price.
which are only viewed on a computer screen did not need a high resolution.
A computer monitor set to 1280x1024 (which is very large) is only
displaying about 1.3 megapixels. Any digital camera rated at about
two megapixels is suitable for computer images.
pictures, however, are another story. Professional photo shops usually
print photographs at 300 dots per inch, and you are likely to be
disappointed with pictures printed at less than this standard. A
4 x 6 photograph printed at 300 dots per inch needs an image which
has about 2.8 million pixels. That means that digital cameras that
are meant to be used for printed pictures should be rated at least
megapixels doesn't necessarily mean better pictures. All other things
being equal (image sensor quality and lens quality) a camera with
more megapixels simply allows you to print larger pictures. You
also have more options for cropping photos and maintaining standard
that you have chosen a minimum megapixel rating, you can look for
cameras which fall into your budget. You will most likely want to
get the best quality images for your money, and that may mean foregoing
some of the fancy features such as video and sound recording. Concentrate
on lens quality and image sensor quality.
are available in either plastic or glass. Glass lenses are superior
and will produce crisper, cleaner images. The best cameras will
be equipped with lenses by well-known manufacturers such as Leica
digital cameras have a zoom function which allows you to get closer
to your subject without moving the camera. There are two types of
zoom -- digital and optical. An optical zoom changes the actual
length of the lens. Digital zooms simply remove the outside edges
of an image and interpolate the result over the area of the image
sensor. They do not give as good results as optical zooms and should
be avoided if possible.
sensors are electronic devices that record the images. The two most
popular types are CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor)
and CCD (Charged-Couple Device). CMOS is the cheaper of the two
but the image quality is inferior to CCD.
matter what your budget, a camera with a good quality lens and CCD
image sensor will likely give you pleasing digital photographs.
simplest digital cameras are point-and-shoot cameras -- simply aim
them and push the button. They are very easy to use and are suitable
for people who simply want to take family or vacation snapshots.
The downside to point-and-shoot cameras is the lack of control you
have over focusing and image adjustment. As you go up the scale
to more expensive cameras, you get more of these kinds of options.
The simplest point-and-shoot cameras often have a low megapixel
rating -- around two megapixels.
better cameras in the three to five megapixel range usually also
have more controls for focusing and image adjustment. Prosumer models
are designed for those who are serious about photography but don't
have the budget for professional equipment. Professional digital
cameras offer the greatest flexibility for capturing digital images.
These cameras are the most expensive and can cost several thousand
are presented with many choices when buying a digital camera. There
are different types of image sensors, storage cards, batteries,
as well as extra features like video and audio recording. As mentioned
in the previous article, image sensors and lenses are the most important
parts of a digital camera for capturing quality images. They are
not the only things to consider, though.
of the controls on digital cameras are accessed through a menu system.
An easy-to-use menu system is a great benefit to any digital photographer,
so this is an important point to consider when shopping around.
The menu system should be clearly laid out so that you can access
settings such as resolution, flash, and exposure settings. Too many
buttons can be confusing and can inhibit the average user from accessing
all the features.
settings allow you to adjust the camera for various types of light.
Almost all digital cameras have an automatic mode which will do
the adjusting for you, but better cameras will give you more control
over aperture settings and exposure times. These can give your photos
a more professional look, but some people may not be interested
in this level of control.
digital cameras allow you to shoot videos and/or record sound. These
features can be handy, but the amount of video that can be captured
is quite small compared to a dedicated camcorder.
displays allow you to see pictures you have taken. This is essential
for deciding which shots to keep and which to discard. The display
may also function as a viewfinder allowing you to see how your shot
will look before you press the shutter button. Some of the cheapest
digital cameras do not have an LCD display.
cameras come bundled with image-editing software like Adobe Photoshop
Elements or Ulead PhotoImpact. Software is a great way to edit your
photos before they are printed. Software packages can cost up to
$100 if bought separately so having it included with the camera
is a serious buying consideration.
Before You Buy
possible, take a few pictures with a digital camera before you buy
it. This will give you a feel for the controls and the ease of use.
How does the camera feel? Is it solid or does it seem like a plastic
toy? Is the LCD screen easy to view under various lighting conditions?
Giving the camera a tryout will answer these questions.