Digital camera technology has evolved very fast during the last two years. Cameras now have plenty of new features and more power at prices that almost anyone can afford. This article is aimed to provide you with everything you should know in order to make a good purchase.What are the costs?
Digital may sound expensive to some people, but it’s no longer true. You can find very good devices at prices below $100 that are perfect for beginners and kids. Of course, at the higher end of the market you can spend thousands of dollars for the latest DSLR camera. Anyway, if you’re not a professional photographer who needs to set everything manually and have interchangeable lenses, you can get everything you need for $150-$400.How many megapixels do I need?
Let’s start by understanding what a megapixel is. A digital photo is composed of pixels (short for picture elements). A thousand of such little squares is a megapixel (MP). Camera models vary in the number of megapixels they have, but the higher is not always the better. Resolution, which determines the clarity of the image, is dependent upon the number of megapixels. A higher resolution will get you clearer photos, but they will also take up a lot of space on your memory card so you can;t take too many photos without carrying extra storage. If you don’t think you will print your photos in large sizes, but limit to 4”x6” and 5”x7”, or if you mostly email them or post them online, there’s no point in buying a camera with more than 5 or 6 megapixels.
How much control over the camera settings do I get?
Most cameras let you choose how much control you have, from completely manual, where you determine everything, to fully automatic, where all the settings are the camera’s defaults. In between there are a lot of pre-sets modes you can choose from, ensuring that you shoot well exposed and clear photos whether it’s a bright sunny day, a late night or an indoor event. You also have the option to change colors to sepia or black & white for more versatility. Some cameras also have options to correct common problems such as red eye. When you shop for cameras, compare design features and shooting modes. First check if the have the basic ones like portrait, landscape and action, then look for extras like night and snow mode. Higher-end models let you have even more control, allowing you to set shutter speed, ISO and aperture yourself or just one and the camera sets the rest accordingly. It can be fun to experiment with these different settings and see what the photos turn out like. And if you don’t like them, you can just erase them and take others.Optical vs. digital zoom: what’s the difference?
Optical zoom is the function that moves your camera lens to get closer to the subject without moving and without making the photo look pixelated. Digital zoom is a feature that crops part of the image and stretches it to make it look bigger, just like you would crop it and enlarge it with a photo editing application. The difference is it happens in the moment you take the photo. It is sometimes difficult to say which is which, because manufacturers often present a combined number of optical and digital zoom power. What they do is multiply optical and digital zoom. For example, if a camera has an 8x digital zoom and a 3x optical zoom, they say it has a total zoom of 24x. You should care more about optical zoom because this is what will get you clear photos.How about size: is heavier always better?
You should choose a camera that fits your lifestyle from all points of view. Slim cameras, for instance, are very easy to slip in your pocket and take along anywhere. Models that are a little larger have more features, such as more manual control and a wider LCD screen. Larger ones may include stronger zoom, which is very useful to capture the architecture details of an ancient building you visit or take great shots at a soccer game.What extra equipment should I get?
First of all, you need batteries. Many cameras use A4 ones, which have to be replaced once in a while, more frequently if you take many photos at high resolution. The auto-focus function and LCD screen also eat up a lot of power. Rechargeable batteries can be a good option and there are two types: Lithium ion (Li-ion) and Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH). Newer models often come equipped with Li-ion batteries. Rechargeable batteries hold more energy and can be recharged several times. You have to look in your camera manual to see what type of batteries you need. Another thing you should invest in is a memory card, which is where your camera stores the images. It’s better to have several memory cars available especially if you go somewhere where you expect to take a lot of photos. The memory card should have at least 1 GB so that you never run out of space. A docking station is another useful thing if you have rechargeable batteries. It provides an easy way to recharge them and you can connect it to your PC in order to upload pictures. A carrying case is another good investment. It not only protects your camera, but you can also use it to carry memory cards and extra batteries.
Now you have enough information to make a good purchase. Good luck with your decision!