How Not To Choose A Digital Camera

If you are about to buy a digital camera, there is one way to choose a digital camera that you should avoid at all costs

No matter what you do, do not buy a digital camera this way. It is almost guaranteed to get you a camera that will be quickly outdated, have many useless features and not produce the quality photos you would like. This is the worst way to buy any camera and especially a digital camera.

Do not go to a consumer electronics store and ask the person behind the counter or any of the sharks lurking in the isles (salespeople) what to buy!

In fact, I really do not recommend purchasing a digital camera from a discount store even if you already know which one you want to buy. There is something that happens all too often when people got to these places to buy something. They often end up buying a camera made by a company that has never been known for making any type of camera. It is important to realize that the salesperson selling you the camera is not a photographer. The salesperson probably does not own any of the digital cameras on display and probably has not used any of the cameras outside of the front door of the store or even outside of the camera department. You will probably hear one of the two following sales pitches.

If you ask what type of digital camera you should buy, you will probably hear something similar to the following

We have the (insert well known photography company here) Model (insert top model ID here) on sale right now, but let me show you a camera that is rated even higher. This digital camera by (insert photographically unknown company here) actually has .5 megapixels more resolution which means more DPI’s when you print it. It was rated Number One by (insert somewhat familiar sounding but not entirely accurate consumer research publication here) in its price range. It can also shoot 2 hours of broadcast quality video and has Bluetooth and WiFi built in. It’s Firewire 4000 port will upload your download web pics 10 times faster than the USB 2.0 connection on the (insert the first, well known in photography camera here). Not only that, but I can include a camera bag, 32 meg memory card, a digital printer, and a tripod for the same price as the (insert the good camera here). Not only that but (insert unknown company here) actually makes the chip for (insert the good digital camera here).

If you already think you know the digital camera you want and try to buy it watch out for something similar to this

We are out of stock of that model. They are about to discontinue it and it will be a bit before we get the new model. If you are looking for something now I can give you a really good deal on this (insert a photographically unknown digital camera here). We normally charge (gives some price close or probably higher than the camera you were looking for) for it but I can give it to you for $50 dollars less today since we are out of the model you wanted. It actually has .5 more megapixels than……(insert a whole ton of mumbo jumbo like the above pitch here). It even has a Zeiss lens. I can only let it go at this price if you buy it today.

Ever heard this or something similar before?

Ever find that the item on sale in the paper is already gone 30 minutes after the store opened? The bottom pitch is close to the bait-and-switch. While the bait-and-switch may even be illegal in some areas, it is very much alive and well. Truth is often mixed with slightly misleading hints. The pitched camera may have a higher suggested price than the camera you wanted but really makes a higher profit for the store than the one you wanted. Consumer electronic stores also make a ton of money adding junk accessories on to the sale. Off brand lenses and flashes are very typical of the accessories that will be included. The accessories are not usually worth it, even free.

You could even try this out.

Go to a consumer electronic store and see what happens. I suggest you leave the credit card at home, just in case. Then, if a salesman convinces you to buy something, you can come read this once more and hopefully realize what happened.

Now, before I start talking about where you should buy, let me include a disclaimer

In this article (as well as the rest of this site), I may be providing links that may point to product I recommend at an online store. Do not get hung up on my recommendations. I may (but sometimes not) receive a commission if you make a purchase. I try to recommend products and businesses that I would personally buy from and recommend to my friends and family. I encourage you to shop for yourself.

Do not get hung up on a particular model I may recommend.

It may (very likely) already be replaced by a newer version. You may want to check the manufacturer’s Web site to see if there is a replacement model. Buying a newer version of a model you already plan to buy will only help the camera remain useful a longer period of time.

Now you know how not to buy a digital camera

Let’s talk about where you should buy a digital camera. I recommend either a local camera store or online.

Next: Buying a Digital Camera at a Local Camera Store


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.