Digital Camera Buying Guide - Choosing
Digital Camera Choosing
Keep reading this page to learn how to Choose a Digital Camera. To learn about basic digital camera concepts, head back to Digital Camera Basics which is the first step in our 4-step Digital Camera Buying Guide.
Paying attention to megapixels is only important now if you intend to make truly large prints. Resolution determines the maximum print size which can be made from a single image without degrading image quality. All modern digital cameras have at least 12 megapixels which is more than enough for a 12" x 18" print.
It is critical to get enough megapixels for a desired print size. Otherwise, printed images will appear unsharp. Getting significantly more megapixels than needed may degrade image quality though due to increased image-noise. Unfortunately, consumers are rarely given the opportunity to choose fewer megapixels.
For uses other than prints, so few megapixels are needed that there is little point checking if a new camera has enough megapixels. It always does. Even the highest-resolution HDTV never requires more than 2 megapixels. The highest resolution computer monitor currentlyIBM used to have one with 9 MP (T221) but it has been discontinued. in production has 4 megapixels.
Since displays and printers produce pictures using tiny dots, giving them more pixels than they use is futile. In other words, the extra pixels are ignored! Look at the following table to see how many megapixels are needed.
|Standard Prints||Large Prints||Other Media|
Different subjects require different things from a digital camera. While all digital cameras manage well with daylight-lit outdoor pictures, other subjects and situations require certain features.
|Taking indoor pictures under typical household lighting demands high ISO sensitivity or at least use of a flash. Most photographers use flash because high ISO sensitivities make pictures look rather noisyEven with 35 mm films, high ISO means larger, more visible grain unless a relatively expensive large-sensor camera is purchased. High ISO sensitivities are preferable to preserve the mood of lightingUnless using a tripod for photographing still subjects. and the sense of depth.|
|A built-in flash must reach far enough to light a subject completely, otherwise an external flash will be required. In such case you must get a camera with a hot-shoeOr a sync-port for studio-flashes. to connect the external flash.|
|Night photography requires slow shutter speeds. Preferably longer than 4 seconds. Control over shutter speed is critical, otherwise it is quite difficult to obtain desired results.|
|Sharply photographing moving subjects requires fast speed shutters. For people doing sports you need at least 1/500. For faster subjects such as race cars, horses and speedboats look for a camera with 1/2000 or faster shutter speeds. To ensure a fast shutter speed is obtained a camera must have a shutter priority mode or a fast-shutter subject programSometimes called sport or action mode.. Indoor sports require a camera with high ISO sensitivity which is most likely a DSLR.|
|Wildlife photography requires the use of long zoom lenses because most animals don't easily let people get close to them. Even insect photography is better with a long zoom because of their small size. If you intend to photograph wildlife either get an Ultra-Zoom camera (10X or more) or an ILC with a long zoom lens (300mm or longer).|
|A continuous drive mode is frequently used to get good pictures of moving subjects. Cameras that have a continuous drive mode take pictures in rapid succession. The number of frames- per-second (FPS) is the number of pictures taken in one second. The burst length is the number of pictures that can be taken consecutively at the maximum frame-rateBefore the camera stops taking pictures or slows down dramatically..|
|Special situations like fireworks, moving light-trails and artistic photography absolutely require having manual controls. A camera with full manual-controls lets the photographer control aperture, shutter-speed and ISO independently.|
To take a picture of a subject, you must have your camera near it. To get it there, you must transport it. This is why it is extremely important to get a camera of the right size. Unfortunately not all features are available in every camera sizeManual controls are rarely found on small cameras, for example. and picture quality is better with a bigger sensor, which usually means a bigger camera and bigger lens.
Camera sizes fall into 6 categories:
- Ultra-Compact: Fit in most pockets and are easy to transport unnoticeably anywhere.
- Compact: Easy to transport, fit in purses and waist-pouches.
- Medium: Too big for the average purse, these can be kept in an small camera bag.
- Large: Definitely too big for a purse, fits in a nap sack or average camera bag.
- Mirrorless: Interchangeable lens cameras which can be Medium size when paired with a slim lens. They can get large with a long or bright lens.
- SLR: Large enough to need a dedicated camera bag, they are easy to notice and may feel heavy to carry over extended periods.
Other location considerations:
- Waterproof - Submersible under water up to a certain depth. Underwater photography requires a waterproof camera or an underwater camera case. A waterproof camera or case is rated to a certain maximum depth. Most waterproof cameras go deep enough for swimming and snorkeling but not sufficiently for SCUBA diving. For SCUBA diving, an underwater case is always needed.
- Weatherproof - Seals protect from dust, humidity and light splashing. A few cameras are splash-proof for taking pictures in the rain or in dusty environments. Some are also freezeproof which lets them operated below freezing, usually down to -10C, without a significant change in performance.
Some cameras are better than others even if they are the same size and have similar features. There are different aspect to camera quality and even more to image quality:
- Picture quality: Good cameras produce pictures with less noise or other problems such as distortion, chromatic aberrations, blurring, color shift, etc.
- Ergonomics: Well-designed digital cameras are comfortable, easy and efficient to use.
- Build quality: Some cameras are more sturdy than others and will last longer.
- Performance: The speed at which a camera focuses, takes pictures and updates its LCD all affect its usability. Faster subjects are more demanding of camera performance.
When looking at camera models in the next step look for these icons which indicate quality:
- Excellent +
New Cameras & Lenses
Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX ?Sony Alpha Mount Zoom
Pentax Q 08 Wide ZoomPentax Q Mount Zoom
Pentax HD DA 20-40mm F/2.8-4 ED DC WR LimitedWeatherproof
Pentax K Mount Zoom
Nikkor AF-S 50mm F/1.8G Special EditionNikon F Mount Prime Lens
Nikon Df16 Megapixels DSLR
Nikon F Lens Mount
Olympus Stylus 112 Megapixels Ultra Zoom
10.7X Wide Optical Zoom
Nikon D610 Review
24 MP full-frame DSLR with 100% coverage OVF, dual-controls in a weather-sealed body. Upgraded from the D600 with 6 FPS continuous drive and 3 FPS quiet drive plus a new improved AWB system.
Ricoh Pentax K-3 Review
The first Ricoh DSLR inherits the K-5 DNA, bringing megapixels to 24 and a unique Anti-Alias Filter Effect along with 8.3 FPS drive and 4K Time-Lapse video. APS-C sensor with ISO 100-5200, 1/8000s, large 100% coverage OVF, dual SDXC slots, all in a solid weather-sealed and freezeproof body.
Best Digital Cameras of 2013
The best digital cameras available in 2013 awarded by category. These exceptional models deliver outstanding image-quality and features for various types of photography.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Review
The ultimate Panasonic flagship mirrorless features in-body stabilization for the first time and a ultra-high resolution tilting EVF. Full manual-control with dual-controls dials. Feature-rich, with 16 MP, 5 FPS, 1080p HD @ 60 FPS, WiFi and NFC.
Nikon 1 AW1 Detailed Review
Waterproof to 15m, shockproof to 2m and freezeproof to -10C, the AW1 is the only rugged interchangeable lens camera. Its 14 MP high-speed 1" CMOS sensor delivers 60 FPS and shutter-speeds up to 1/16000s. Full 1080p HD video capable.
Nikon 1 AW1 Preview
Preview of the Nikon 1 AW1, the only waterproof or shockproof interchangeable lens camera. See how Nikon built this mirrorless camera and its equally sturdy lenses.
Amazing Lenses to Make You Want Another System
These amazing lenses, plus a few extra ones for good measure, will make you want to buy another system. These unique will expand your photographic vision. Each is mostly unique to a system making you wish you had one camera for every one of them!
Olympus PEN E-P5 Review
As the fllagship of Olympus PEN series, the E-P5 mirroress camera is brimming with features: a 16 MP LiveMOS with 5-Axis image-stabilization, ISO 100-25600, 9 FPS, 1080p HD with Stereo sound, 1/8000-60s plus to 30mis of Live-Builb. Full manual-controls in a highly customizable and durable metal body with 3 control-dials
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70
An amazing 60X ultra-wide-angle optical zoom with a 16 megapixels CMOS sensor in a body with plenty of external controls. 9 FPS, 1080p HD with stereo sound.
Fuji X100S Review
Premium compact with a large 16 MP X-Trans II CMOS sensor with built-in Phase-Detect AF, a bright 23mm F/2 prime lens, hybrid 2.4 MP EVF/OVF with Eye-Start sensor, full 1080p HD video.