Digital Cameras - Summary
So, if you have made it through to this point, then thank you for staying with me. Obviously the most important features are a matter of personal choice, but I have listed below what I consider to be the most critical items that you need to consider when making your final decision as to what to buy.
1. What features do you need? A lot of features may sound great, but will you get round to using them? Only pay for what you are going to use.
If all you are looking for is a camera that you can point at your subject and take a picture you will not need a wide range of fancy controls. A more basic digital camera is likely to do all you need and be a lot cheaper.
2. How much zoom do you need? There was a time when buying a digital camera with a long lens may have compromised quality. This is far less of an issue now. If you are looking to take a wide variety of different types of picture, extra zoom means extra flexibility. Previously lots of zoom also meant large sized digital cameras. That is also less of an issue now. Cameras with small bodies often have at least 10x zoom.
3. What memory card should you buy? Most digital cameras do not come with a memory card. Although the majority of cameras have built in memory, this is usually insufficient to store more than a handful of emergency photos. Therefore unless you already own one that is compatible with your new camera you will need to buy a memory card.
Memory cards are relatively inexpensive when compared to the price of a camera, but will still bump up the cost.
The number of images you can store on a card will be determined mainly by the number of megapixels your camera has. 16GB cards or larger can store hundreds of photos taken by current digital cameras. High Definition Movies and storing your photos in RAW format eats up considerably more space than still images stored as Jpegs (Jpegs are the standard file type produced by a digital camera).
You do not need to buy the same brand of memory card as your camera - i.e. you do not need to buy a Canon memory card to go with a Canon digital camera. It may be wise to avoid dirt cheap memory cards, but most brands are very reliable.
It is always a good idea to carry a spare card in case the card you are using malfunctions. Back up images to a computer or other source on a regular basis. Like any digital file, pictures can become corrupt so it is a good idea to make a second copy.
4. Movie features have improved considerably in the last few years. A lot of people now use a digital camera to shoot short movie clips instead of taking a camcorder with them. If video is very important to you a typical digital camera is not a like for like replacement, but you can record some decent quality clips.
5. Battery power. Nine out of ten cameras use rechargeable, lithium ion batteries. Batteries last a lot longer than they once did so the pressure to buy spare batteries has reduced. It is still worth considering if you plan to use your digital camera a lot. Otherwise all you need to do is charge up your camera before setting off.
I should also add that if you shoot movie clips your battery will need to be recharged a lot sooner than if you are just taking still images.
6. What brand should you buy? This may depend on how fussy you are about picture quality. Most people will struggle to see a great deal of difference in pictures taken with different brand cameras. Occasionally someone will bring out a camera that is a fair bit better or a fair bit worse than other models. So it is best to check out individual models to see what ones match your personal requirements.
7. The size of the camera you buy is all down to personal choice. Some smaller cameras now offer a lot of flexibility and power.
8. How many megapixels do you need? Sometimes it seems like there is a race to add more and more megapixels to a digital camera. But adding more pixels can reduce picture quality as more pixels are packed into a small space. By all means consider the number of pixels you would like, but a 12 megapixel digital camera usually gives you more than enough to make super-sized prints.