Choosing the Right Digital Camera

Choosing the Right Digital Camera

Which camera should I buy? A question many are asking, and the answer is not always an easy one. There are many different cameras covering different needs, such as SLR, compact and hybrid cameras.

The first thing to think about when you're on the lookout for a new camera is how you intend to use it. Do you need an SLR, compact or a hybrid camera? An SLR is superior where comes to image quality, but are often large and more difficult to carry. This and many other things determine what is the right camera for you and which camera you should buy. Below this guide is separated into three parts so you can read about the pros and cons of different cameras.

Which camera do i need?

It is all too easy to end up buying a camera just because it's on offer, without questioning if the camera suits your needs. Ask yourself these questions when your on the lookout for a new camera:

How many megapixels do I need?

Most people think the higher number of megapixels a camera has the better quality images it will produce. This is simply not true. Today you will see smart phones with a large number of megapixels, but there are other things that matter just as much when it comes to image quality. Optics, the size of the sensor and not least how the image is stored all matter. Don't be put off buying a 12 megapixel camera, compared to a 20 megapixel camera that is in a similar price range. Most compact digital cameras have more megapixels compared to SLR cameras, but SLRs will always deliver the superior image quality.

Do I need digital zoom?

If there's one thing you should stay clear of like the plague, it's digital zoom. There are not many cameras these days that only have digital zoom, but despite that, always choose one has an optical zoom which will maintain image quality.

What is an SLR, compact or hybrid camera?

Here you get a small introduction to the types of camera to choose from.

What is an SLR:

A digital SLR or system camera is made up of two main parts. A camera housing and a lens. Inside the camera body is a mirror that reflects the light coming in through the lens up to the viewfinder. When you take a picture the mirror is lifted up and the light is emitted forward to the sensor. They are often called SLR Single-lens reflex camera or DSLR Digital Single-Lens Reflex camera.

Advantages of digital SLR:

  • Fast Shutter - Pressing the shutter button means the picture will be taken immediately. No waiting 1 or 2 seconds like you get with some cameras.
  • Fast autofocus - Excellent for taking photographs of fast-moving subjects.
  • You can choose exactly which lens you want - Start with a standard zoom and upgrade if you need to.
  • Good image quality - Quality will vary depending on the model and price, but all SLRs are seen as the superior camera when it comes to image quality.
  • Large sensor - A large sensor is expensive to make, but provides better quality pixels and images.
  • You get auto and full manually settings - Often it can be good that the camera chooses automatic settings when it takes a picture, but to have the ability to override, so you can take the pictures you really want is an excellent option to have.
  • Burst mode - Sometimes you need to take several pictures in series to get the perfect one.
  • There are a lot of accessories to choose from - Need a large flash then you can buy it at a later date.

Disadvantages of digital SLR:

  • Can be difficult to learn and use.
  • Large and not so easy carry.
  • Often expensive compare to compact cameras.

What is a compact camera?

A compact digital camera is a camera that is small and compact and can easily fit in your pocket. These models have no mirror, but use an image sensor that adapts to what you see. You also have a screen that allows you look at the pictures you take afterwards.

Advantages of digital compact camera:

  • Everything is included in the compact camera - As long as you remember to charge the battery and insert a memory card you have everything you need.
  • Small and lightweight - You can easily carry a compact camera in your pocket.
  • Everything is automatic - But some cameras also have good manual settings.
  • Many have good zoom - But the quality of the glass in the lens can vary.

Disadvantages of a digital compact camera:

  • Small sensor - Many pixels are squeezed into a small space.
  • Slow - It often takes a long time (sometimes 1-2 seconds) after you press the shutter button until you can take the picture.
  • Not so fast autofocus - You can easily get blurred images.
  • One can not change the optics - If the camera has a bad lens you have no way of replacing it.
  • Many have no RAW file - JPEG is nice and takes up little space, but today it is not difficult to use RAW file. You get much better opportunities to fix the picture afterwards. RAW is like an old-fashioned negative, while JPEG is like a slide, it is not supposed to be changed.

Today there are more compact digital cameras that are shock and water resistant, this can be a big advantage if you like taking photographs while doing extreme sports, or want your children to have a camera.

What is a hybrid camera:

Hybrid cameras are like SLRs, but without a mirror. Many say a digital hybrid camera gives image results in between a DSLR and compact camera. Hybrids are smaller and lighter than a SLR, and have an electronic viewfinder, with the ability to swap lenses and choose from lots of accessories. This is really the new kid on the block.

Advantages of a digital hybrid camera:

  • Small and compact - With a hybrid camera, you get a compact camera with a low weight.
  • Ability to switch lenses - You can start with a standard zoom and expand without having to change camera.
  • Faster than a compact camera.
  • Larger sensor than a compact camera, but less than a DSLR.
  • Lots of extras - A bigger flash provides plenty of opportunities for good pictures.

Disadvantages of digital hybrid camera:

  • Not all online applicants are equally good.
  • Not so fast autofocus - The way the autofocus is often built into a mirror fixed camera is much the same as a compact camera. But there are some great exception, such as fast autofocus.

Do I need any additional equipment?

You need a good memory card. Memory cards are available in various sizes at low prices today. You do not need the fastest card, but do buy one that your camera recommends and is from a known and reliable brand. It may be tempting to buy one of those very cheap memory cards from a maker you've never heard of, but it won't be funny once it malfunctions and you lose all your pictures.

An external flash can be a good investment if your camera supports it. With an external flash you can avoid red eyes and get the ability to send light to the ceiling or wall to avoid dark shadows.

An extra battery and tripod is also something else you may consider.

HD Video Function

Many of today's cameras have very good HD video recording features. A major drawback can be the autofocus and sound, though this will obviously vary between camera models. To record video, you will want to invest in a large and fast memory card.

Do a little research

There are many good sites on the World Wide Web where you can find information and reviews about cameras. Before you buy your desired camera take a little time and do an Internet search on that particular model to see what the reviews are like. If they are good, that then gives you the confidence to buy, if it's bad, maybe you should stay away.

Go to the store, hold the camera and find out which one suits you

A camera must feel comfortable in your hands, therefore we advise you to go to your local camera store, talk to the people working there and sample their range. Don't forget to see what the menus are like and if they are easy to navigate.

Which camera brand?

Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Olympus are the most common camera brands.

Which brand is most suited to you depends entirely on your needs. But if there is a single thing to say, buy a camera with a good lens. The general rule is the larger the aperture it has the better the images will be. So look for f2.8, F3.5 or F5.6.

But remember the most important thing is how you take pictures rather than the cost or type of camera. There's no point in having a camera that cost over £1000, if you do not know how to use it.

If you have made up your mind, as to which is the correct digital camera for you, why not visit our dedicated camera page.