How To Choose The Right Digital Camera – Conclusion and Summary

Before I summarize, I would like to list a few features that you should compare between models of digital cameras.

Optical zoom range

  • Point-and-shoot digital cameras do not allow you to change lenses. Ranges generally go from 3x to 10x. Do not count digital zoom in this factor.

Lens speed

  • This is a measure of how much light the lens lets through to the sensor. A smaller number is better. Many point-shoot-digital cameras have F5.6, F6.7, or even F8.0 lenses. Faster lenses are F2.8 but this is very rare in point-shoot models. Lenses tend to get slower as you zoom in more.

External flash hot shoe

  • Usually not on compact models but some larger point-and-shoot models have them. All digital single lens reflexes have them. Another thing to glance at is the distance the built in flash is from the lens. A built in flash that is farther from the lens will show less red-eye. Unfortunately, small cameras do not have much room to move the flash away from the lens.

Larger preview screen

  • Personally, I only take an occassional quick glance at preview screens when shooting a digital camera. I prefer optical viewfinders which do not get washed out by daylight. I find the histogram a more useful use of the screen for a quick check of the exposure. A large screen is nice, but still not the best way to view digital photos.

Rechargeble batteries

  • Digital cameras will use tons of batteries. Many cameras come with a rechargeble battery. I suggest also ordering a backup so you can keep shooting after one goes out.

Ok, that’s about it.

To Summarize choosing a digital camera

  • Do not go by the advice of a saleperson at a consumer electronics store.
  • Buy at a local camera store if you feel you need advice.
  • You can save money buying your camea online.
  • What kind of photography you plan to shoot should determine what style digital camera you buy. A casual shooter should look a compact camera. The family historian should look at the larger, more versatile point-and-shoot models. The soccer mom needs an optical viewfinder or digital single lens reflex. A dedicated hobbiest will want a high end point-and-shoot digital camera or a mid to low range digital single lens reflex. A professional should not need to read this, but will want high to mid range digital single lens reflexes and also will need a spare.
  • Buy a digital camera brand that has a history in photography – Canon and Nikon are the best examples.
  • Buy a camera in the 6 megapixel – 8 megapixel range of resolution. This resolution will provide equal or better than 35mm film quality (providing insurance from quick obsolecence).
  • Do not buy a camera just to be compatible with digital camera memory you already have. Secure Digital and Compact Flash will tend to have the best prices.
  • Do not let nearly useless features determine what digital camera you buy. Stick with features that are really important on a digital camera.
  • Make the price you are comparing includes everything the manufacturer normally includes in the box.
  • Order a USA warrantee if you live in the US.
  • Once you have several models that met the above guidelines, compare the remaining models on useful features.

I hope I have covered everything, no doubt I’ll find a few things I’ve missed from time to time. If you have a question or think I’ve missed something important, let my know from the link on the feedback page.

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.