What to look for when buying a digital camera

Like if this guide is helpful
So you want to buy a new digital camera? Not sure what to look for? This guide will try and explain what things you should be looking for when searching for your perfect camera. Obviously, the camera you end up with will be dictated by your budget, and as one would expect, the more you're willing or able to spend the better the camera will be. But what type of camera should you buy? You may have looked around, and found various different types, and will more than likely have been swamped down by hundreds of different numbers and not knowing what they mean. Point-n-shoot : These cameras are designed for exactly what they're called, pointing and shooting. Your typical point and shoot camera will not give you much control over the images you take so some pictures may not come out at all how you are expecting. These cameras are where the price difference will play a very large part in the image quality. SLR : Single Lens reflex camera's are aimed at the semi-pro to professional photographers. The price of an SLR is generally higher than a standard camera, however the image quality is far superior to any other. The most commonly advertised detail about any camera on the market, is the number of 'megapixels' it has. At the time of writing this guide, most cameras will have around 8 megapixels which is a fairly good standard to get for high quality pictures. But what is a megapixel? A digital camera has a small sensor inside which is used to absorb the light shown to it, and convert this into the image you see on the screen, in essence it is the digital version of the film from older cameras. Every single dot of light in which it is able to pick up is called a pixel. 1 megapixel, is 1 million tiny light sensors. The result of having more pixels, is a much bigger picture. This allows for more detail to be captured resulting in a better picture BE CAREFUL!!! Do NOT think that because a camera has a large number of megapixels that is will have a better picture quality. The number of pixels is only the beginning of what makes up the digital image. So what else makes up a fantastic picture? ISO settings - These specify how sensitive the camera is to light. For instance, a very dark setting will require a higher ISO number, which makes the camera more sensitive to low levels of light. The result of this however is that it can cause digital 'noise' where there will appear to be a grainyness in the image. Reducing the ISO will remove this, but will make an image darker if there is not enough light Shutter Speed - This dictates how fast the camera will "open and close" its "shutter". Point-and-shoot cameras don't actually have a physical shutter, but the same logic still applies : A fast shutter speed will darken an image as less light can enter the camera in a shorter space of time. A slow shutter speed will brighten an image as more light can enter the camera in a shorter space of time. Choosing the right shutter speed can dramatically enhance your image, but the wrong one can ruin it. NOT all point-and-shoot cameras give you control over the shutter speed, so look out for ones that do. Aperture - The aperture number represents the size of the hole which lets light in. This can be changed to either make the hole bigger or smaller depending on the effect you would like to have. By increasing the aperture (lowering the number) the depth of focus is decreased. This means that things in the background will become blurred. This effect is fantastic for portraits as the subject will be in focus but the background will be blurred By decreasing the aperture (raising the number) the depth of focus is increased. More things will come into focus, however this will cause the image to become darker, so a slower shutter speed may be needed or a higher ISO to counteract this effect. Optics - One of the most critical parts of a good image, is the lens that the camera uses. The camera itself my have fantastic electronics designed for stunning pictures, however if the lens is useless then the picture will be as well. Make sure the lenses that are being used are good quality. Look out for names such as : Pentax Karl Zeiss Nikon Canon These are very well known and well established brands, and you cannot go far wrong if using lenses provided by these manufacturers. With point-and-shoot cameras you are not able to change the lens so make sure you have a good lens when you buy the camera. If you are buying an SLR then you are able to change the lens whenever you want, to best suit your needs The lenses will also have a zoom rating, such as 6x. This tells you how far the camera will be able to zoom in, and you will also see measurements with this such as 28mm-168mm. These numbers are the distances in which the lens can zoom. The lower the lowest number is, the further away the camera can zoom from the subject, making it a "wide angle' shot (capturing a wide area of view) and the highest number determines how close it can zoom in. For point-and-shoot cameras, try to look for something with a high range, for instance 28-300 which will be a 10x zoom. Also DO NOT LISTEN TO DIGITAL ZOOM!!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot stress this enough. Companies will tell you that the camera has a 20x digital zoom, however digital zoom destroys an image! By using it, the camera is guessing what should be there, and makes it up, which loses a lot of detail. ONLY look for optical zoom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All of these numbers will be written on the front of the lens. The numbers that are something like : 2.8-15.6 are showing the aperture, and something like 28mm-168mm show the zoom range. An SLR camera gives you far more freedom with your pictures, allowing you to change almost every aspect of the picture you are taking. Another way of doing this is post-production, where the image is enhanced on the computer. If you would rather take this root, then try and look for a camera that gives you the ability to take pictures in RAW format, as this will give you far more control over your images on the computer. There is MUCH more detail that can be talked about, far too much for one guide, so if you would like to know more then let me know, simply contact me. I hope this guide has given you a brief explanation of what to look for. If you have ANY other questions about this, or anything else related to photography/computing, please feel free to contact me and I'll be happy to help Happy buying
Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides