How to Choose the Perfect Digital Camera for You

Text By Amit Laufer  © All rights reserved.

The huge variety of Digital Cameras in the market is a great thing but it is making our buying decision a difficult task. The following buying tips will help you make a better, more educated, focused and rational purchase decision. Please take into account that there is no one perfect Digital Camera that contains all the required features and sells at a low price too, so it will be a compromise like many others we make in life.
Do You Really Need a Digital Camera?
To answer this compare the price of mid range digital cameras and divide it by the cost of a roll of film. How many rolls of film you need to buy before covering the cost of your digital camera? On average good mid range digital camera cost approximately $ 600. Film will average $ 2. you will buy 200 rolls of films before ever covering the cost of your new digital camera. Think about it, how much time in terms of years would it take to shoot 300 rolls of film X 36 frames? It is almost 11,000 pictures! Shooting ten rolls a year on average would take 30 years to spend $ 600 in terms of rolls of film and if the cost of the camera was only $ 200 then it will take " only " 10 years. Do you start getting the picture here? Don't forget that there is the cost of developing and the cost of the prints, but if you want to get similar quality prints as film camera then you will have to send your digital images to a mini lab printer as well.
So please, don't buy into the idea you are saving money here.
It is true though that with the digital camera you print only the best shots you like most and not all 36 pictures, so at some point everything begins to balance out. Another point to consider is that, many people don't print digital images, they store it on their computers or over the Internet in digital albums, or they make a presentation with background music, burn it on a DVD disk, and share it with family and friends at their living room on TV. The truth is always somewhere in the middle.
If it is not necessarily cheaper, Does the Digital Cameras give better quality results? The answer is short: NO! experts may even argue that film quality is better.
There is the psychological aspect behind it all. Remember not having to buy film gives you the free feeling of taking as many pictures as you like, with instant satisfaction of seeing results immediately. Secondly,you always have the option to retake shots.
Thirdly, people tend to store or print only the best pictures. The overall result is improvement in our recorded memories, we shoot much more, correct and delete bad ones and store or print only the very best.
In addition, imaging software enables us to even further improve saturation of colors, Compensate for bad exposures, crop, rotate, make a collage from many pictures, add Artistic Graphics Text and style.
To sum it all up, it is not true that the Digital Cameras are saving money, the quality is not higher than Film camera, in general the new better Digital cameras give you more manual control over exposure and shutter speeds. Psychologically we feel relaxed and free to shoot much more pictures. The end result is an overall improvement in recording our live memories.
What Do You Need to Look for in a Digital Camera?
Examine the Camera at a real store. First I would like to suggest that the whole buying process not be done over the Internet even though it is convenient and tempting. In my view it is very important to see the camera, to hold it in your hands, and most importantly to try it and see the results. The features of many digital cameras look quite similar and it is hard to make a decision merely by feature comparisons . It might be very handsome nice looking camera on the Internet but may be it is too small for your big hands? Did you know that some Digital cameras Have up to 3 seconds delay between pushing the button and the actual shutter Movement (Picture taking). In 3 seconds my son is out of the frame already. One warning, come prepared (after reading this article), listen to the salesman but with a critic ear, as objectively may be obscured and profit margin goals may be at mind. You don't have to buy at the store, If you like a specific camera now is the time to go to the Internet and compare specific model prices. buy only at a reputable and reliable store either virtual or not.
Decide on a Certain Budget and Stick to it.
Photo gear has a lot of wana haves, nice to haves and let me have that one as well, gadgets. most camera manufacturers provide a basic memory card of 16 MB, this will be good for only a few high quality pictures, I strongly recommend you will buy a 128 MB or even better yet 256 MB Memory Card. Since Digital Cameras use LCD screen, battery consumption is much higher than what you are use to in film cameras, it is recommended to invest in a battery charger. Allocate a budget for your camera, but make sure it includes the Camera + Memory Card + Battery charger + case and even consider Wide Angel Converter.
Skin tone:
Test the cameras quality by taking a picture of people, observe the skin tone (face, hands etc'), does the skin tone looks natural to you? Or is it too pale or yellowish? Is it too reddish or pink? Insist on a good natural result.
How Many Mega Pixels?
The very basic " Point & Shoot " models can start with 2 Mega and can give very good results but I recommend you choose 4 Megapixels for prints of up to 5 x 7. If you don't need many enlargements it is high quality and sufficient. There are compact models with even 7 Mega pixels but for all practical reasons it is an over kill, I would invest in wider aperture lens and longer range zoom. Don't think if your neighbor bought a 7 Mega camera that his camera is better, It's not.
What Aperture Lens?
The smaller the number the better, it is always marked with "f", for instance aperture range: f2.8 - f4, if it is constant on the entire zoom range, let's say f2.8 on all zoom range - excellent, the longer the zoom range the harder it is to produce a small aperture number, for instance a zoom range of 36mm - 420mm (12 X) if it is f2.8 on all the range it is impressive. a camera with Aperture range of f2 - f3 Very good. Higher aperture than f5 will produce less desirable results.
Zoom Range:(Optical)
The longer the range the better, you can catch a distant object, make nice close ups and portraits, it gives you more accessibility, flexibility and creative options. A long 420 mm (12 X) is excellent range BUT, you need to understand that the longer the zoom range the bigger the amplification of any hand shaking with the camera, therefore it is recommended to hold your breath, be as stable as you can with your hands and body but even better yet to use a Tripod. I would even compromise a bit on the range to be 370 mm (10 X) " only ". Important feature on a long-range zoom is an Anti-Shake or Image stabilizer. These features compensate approximately one f stop or more on movements.
I referred here to Optical zoom, there is a digital zoom in addition but usually the quality of it is very low, some salesmen tend to confuse the customers by multiplying the optical zoom by the digital zoom and claiming the camera to be 12 optical x 4 digital = (48 X)! Ignore such statements, refer just to Optical zoom.
In the old Film cameras a long zoom range meant a very long bulge, in the current modern Digital Cameras it extends less than an inch and stops, all the rest is done internally by the Cameras optics.
Wide Angle:
Most Digital Cameras do not have wide angle lens. It is one of the their biggest shortcomings, 36 mm or even worse 37 mm is not a wide angel zoom, as a result when taking pictures indoor you will notice you cannot catch a better part of the scene or only part of the room, when shooting outdoor you will notice that only part of the landscape can be included in the frame. Not to worry, there is a solution! Wide Angel Adaptor, it is an add on which is placed over the existing lens. It can be (X 0.75) = 28 mm, it can be (X 0.66) = 24 mm which is excellent. There is an additional charge for adopters as they are produced either by a third party or the original manufacturer of the camera. Adaptors give small Distortions so as a rule of thumb it is much better to have the original manufacturer adaptor as it matches optically much better. There are even Macro ad on Adaptors available.
LCD Screen:
The bigger the better, average size is 1.8", but there are models with 2" and even 2.5", another feature is a swivel (flip-out & twist) LCD screens, you can show your kid His picture in real time, and it can help you take a difficult angel and access shots. The LCD screens have one big problem, that is, under sun light and outdoor conditions it is very difficult to see the picture on them. Therefore, if it has Anti Glare feature it's better. The more pixels the better.
ISO Rating:
This one is important to actually check in the store and observe the results carefully. The wider the range the better, both on the low and high sides of the scale. If it is less than 100 it means you will get very good results in bright day light sunny conditions ( ISO 50 or 80 ), if it is ISO 400 and up it means you will get excellent results on low light conditions. Some of Digital Cameras don't perform well in ISO rating of above 200, (e.g. you will see a lot of noise and snow flakes), this is why I recommended verifying it.
The quality of the Glass Optics is Important, some of the Manufacturers wave with their Optics Brands well known producers like:
Leica lens
Carl Zeiss lens
Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon lens
Nikkor Lens
Canon Lens
And many more.
Additional Points:
Auto Focus - The more points the better - (9 Points is very good).
External Flash option via hot shoe a plus.
Lens Protective Hood - Better Light input + physical protection of the lens.
Who is the Camera manufacturer?
Most of the Digital cameras are designed in Japan, it is very important to choose a reliable producer with strong and experienced knowledge of Cameras, with a large variety of models and commitment to service and excellence. Always think who is the manufacturer, is he coming from the film field, Printers producer, electronics or has he dealt with cameras from day one.
The economy of the Digital Camera is not cheaper than Film Cameras.
The overall result of using Digital Camera is improvement in our recorded memories, we shoot much more, correct and delete bad ones and Store only the very best.
Examine and test the Camera at a real store only then compare prices on the Internet, buy only at reputable store.
Decide on a Budget and stick to it, Take into account all the accessories such as bigger memory card of at least 256 MB.
Aperture lens - The smaller the "f" number the better, Range between f2 - f3 is very good, f2.8 across all the zoom range is excellent. Especially if the zoom is long.
Zoom range of (12 X) or (10 X) with Anti Shake or Image Stabilizer is great (consider adding a tripod).
Wide angle adaptor is most important (0.75 X) or even better yet (0.66 X), original manufacturer adapters will give you best optical compatibility.
LCD Screen - The bigger the better, flip out & twist, anti glare, high resolution.
ISO Rating - Preferable range 50 - 800, settle for 80 - 400 and test it.
Optics - well known manufacturers will give you better quality output.
Auto Focus - The more points the better - (9 Points is very good).
External Flash option via hot shoe a big plus.
Lens Protective Hood - Better Light input + physical protection of the lens.
Well-known leader and experienced Camera manufacturer with good service backup.
Major Camera Manufacturers:
Kodak Photo

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