Features To Avoid In A Digital Camera

I often see features listed on a digital camera that are not worth listing

Yet, they sometimes are the first thing someone buying a new camera will tell you about. Others, just do not have any value. I am going to give a few of these so-called features a bit of exposure here. I’ll let you know why if the feature shouldn’t make you run to another camera, at least should not be counted as a feature when comparing digital cameras.

While some of these features you cannot help avoid (many digital cameras have them) you should not let the following features be included in your decision

The dreaded digital zoom

This is not really a zoom at all. It is just a marketing ploy to make the camera sound better compared to a competitor. Unfortunately, this digital zoom thing has gotten pushed so far that all the camera manufacturers have a tendency to list it as a feature. A digital zoom just crops the image in camera and resamples the remaining information a larger file size. Digital photos taken with digital zoom are easy to spot next to digital photos taken with an optical zoom. So not count digital zoom as a feature. It is not. Only compare the optical range of the zoom. If you buy a digital camera with digital zoom, just forget your camera has it. You will get much better photos that way.

The built in movie capability

Let me tell you a true story. I had a client who bought a digital camera (from a salesman at a consumer electronic store). She did not own a computer. This is not the problem (it is possible to use a digital camera effectively now, even if you do not have a computer). The salesman pointed out the ability to record video movies with the camera as a feature. Thinking she would rather have a video, she used the video feature of the camera to record and important event ( I think it was a graduation).

This is where things went wrong.

The format digital cameras use to record video is not compatible with your TV or a video recorder. Digital cameras use either a Microsoft format (avi) or Apple format (Quicktime). These video formats need a computer to decode them (or you can connect your camera directly). You cannot directly save the video to a CD to play in a DVD player. It needs to be recoded for the DVD player.

The video produced by these digital cameras is not the same thing you would expect if you have a video camera either. It is small, usually size to a fraction of a computer screen and sometimes only uses 256 colors. In short, it looks terrible.

This poor woman listened to a salesman. She ended up with a tiny lousy video, that she could not even watch, when she could have had some nice photos to remember with.

Do not buy a camera because it is supposed to shoot video also. If your camera has this feature, use it only to play or at least try it before you rely on it for something that may one day be important. Do not record an important event this way. You will regret it. Use the still digital camera for photos.

As an aside, video cameras that claim to shoot still digital videos also do a terrible job at still photography. The method of recording still photography and motion is different. What looks good while in motion looks terrible in a still photo.

B&W / Sepia Mode

A cool idea that is not really needed. B&W and Sepia can be done in photo editing software later with much more control.

I mentioned built-in memory previously

This memory is usually not large enough to be of real use. I do not believe either Canon or Nikon make cameras that feature built-in memory. This is a feature that I would consider one of those “run away from this camera” features.

There is one feature that all digital cameras have that I suggest you forget

All digital cameras have a quality setting. I suggest you set it to the highest quality setting and forget you can change it. Why? Because to me, it make no sense to buy an expensive camera and then set it to take pictures like a cheap one. Buy a cheaper camera and get some extra memory cards instead. I’m sorry, it just does not make any sense to me. I just do not get it. Use the high quality setting you paid for.

Now that I given you some features to avoid or at least ignore, we’ll go over what you should expect in the box when it arrives.

What should come with my digital camera?


About James Thoenes

James has spent most of his life involved in photography. He is now dedicated to producing portraits that his clients will treasure for the rest of their lives.