Today’s digital cameras have come a long way even in recent years. They offer more features and power than ever before, at prices that make upgrading to a new model an attractive option. Here’s everything you need to know before you buy.
How much I have to pay?
The first thing on most people’s minds is cost. Digital sounds expensive, but it isn’t anymore. There are cameras with great features available for as low as $ 100 – perfect starter cameras or great for kids.
Of course, you can spend more than that, up to several thousand on the most advanced single lens digital reflex (DSLR) cameras. However, unless you are a professional who needs interchangeable lenses and everything manual, you can get a great camera for between $ 150 and $ 400. It all depends on what you want to do with your camera and your photos.
What is a megapixel and how many do I need?
Digital photos are made up of pixels, which in computer language means “picture element.” Put together a thousand of these little squares and you have one megapixel (MP for short). Every digital camera you consider will have a number of megapixels associated with it, but higher is not necessarily better.
Megapixels affect the resolution of your digital photos, that is, the potential clarity of the photos. If you choose a camera with a high number, for example 10 MP, you will get rich and detailed photos, perfect for large prints. Or you can crop your image and enlarge a section in your own photo without losing clarity.
That sounds good, right? The downside is that the higher the resolution of the photo, the more space it will take up on a memory card, so you won’t be able to take as many photos unless you have additional storage space.
TIP: If you don’t need to make large prints, but want to print standard sizes like 4 “x 6” or 5 “x 7”, or email or post your photos online, a 5-6 megapixel camera works well for you.
How much control will I have over the camera settings?
The short answer is, as much or as little as you want, often on the same camera. Many digital cameras allow you to choose the level of control, from fully automatic, where the camera makes all decisions, to fully manual, where it runs the program.
Among those options are helpful preset shooting modes. These make it easy to take clear, well-exposed photos in a variety of settings: in bright sunlight, at night, during a sporting event, at the theater. Another fun feature is the ability to change images to black and white or sepia, which adds versatility. Beyond that, some cameras help you prevent red-eye and other common problems.
TIP: Compare shooting modes and design features when shopping. Look for the most common ones, like Landscape, Portrait, and Action. Then see if there are others: Night or Snow mode, for example.
If you want more control of your digital camera variables, you can too. In addition to presets, many cameras, especially at the mid and upper end of the price range, allow you to use the manual and set the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO yourself, or set one manually and have the camera choose the best configuration. for the other items.
It’s fun to play around with these different options and see how your images change. And a great thing about digital photos is that if your experiment is unsuccessful, you can delete the photo and take another.
What is the difference between optical and digital zoom?
Optical zoom is how far your camera lens can physically extend from the camera body (its focal length). It allows you to get closer to the subject without actually moving and without your photo becoming blocked or pixelated.
Digital zoom stretches the pixels of the camera to make a photo appear larger, similar to cropping a photo and enlarging it, but it happens directly in the camera.
Digital cameras will often show you a combined digital and optical zoom. They get this by multiplying the two numbers together. For example, a camera with 3x optical zoom and 8x digital zoom will have a total zoom of 24x.
TIP: Pay close attention to the optical zoom, as it will result in sharper close-up photos.
What about the size of the camera? Is it heavier the better?
Digital cameras are designed to be tough, so choose the style that suits your needs. A small, slim model comes in handy because it fits easily into a purse or pocket, making it a no-brainer to take on outings or family trips.
Slightly larger models also offer some useful features, like a larger LCD screen for taking and viewing photos, and often more manual control.
Go a little bigger still, and your digital camera may also have a more powerful zoom lens, useful for getting shots at the soccer game or architectural details of the castle you saw on your trip to Italy.
What other equipment will I need?
Batteries: Some digital cameras use AA batteries that are replaced more or less frequently depending on the number of photos you take and the resolution of each image. However, digital camera functions such as the LCD screen and autofocus consume a lot of power, which means that the batteries drain quickly. Rechargeable batteries are an alternative option.
Rechargeable batteries use one of two different technologies: nickel metal hydride (NiMH) or lithium ion (Li-ion). NiMH batteries come in standard sizes and can be recharged multiple times before they need to be replaced. Many newer cameras are equipped with lithium ion battery packs. These have the advantage that they retain more energy and are used and recharged more frequently than other batteries. Consult your camera manual to determine which type is compatible.
Memory cards: Your digital camera stores images on memory cards and there are many options for them. It is a good idea to have several available, especially during the holidays or at a special event such as a wedding, where you will be taking a lot of photos. Get a bigger card, think 1GB or more, to make sure you have plenty of memory.
Dock: If your camera has rechargeable batteries, consider purchasing a docking station. It gives you a safe way to charge your camera and an easy way to connect it to your computer when you want to upload photos.
Carrying case: In addition to protecting your camera, a carrying case also allows you to store extra batteries and memory cards in one convenient place.
Now you’re ready to go shopping and start using your digital camera to help you capture and share treasured memories.