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Selecting a Digital Camera

There's a digital camera out there for just about everyone, from novice shutterbugs to photography buffs up to the professional. Below is a summary of what's available, the most important features, and help you figure out what type of camera that's just right for you.

Know your needs
The type of digital camera you buy depends on what you will be doing with the pictures that you take.. Knowing what kind of photos you'll be taking most often will help you decide what resolution and other features you'll need.

If you'll be emailing the pictures that you take or uploading them onto a photo-sharing web site then your needs are going to be different from someone that will be making lots of 4x6 snapshot prints. That persons needs are going to be different from someone that is going to try to make money with their pictures in either a magazine or doing portraits.

In addition to how you will be using the pictures, you'll need to think about additional features like a powerful zoom for close-ups software that makes e-mailing photos easier, manual controls, or even a video-recording mode.

For occasional snapshots, family album projects, or a personal website, you'll probably be happy with an entry-level point-and shoot model that has minimal extras. On the other hand, if you want to make really big prints (beyond 8 x 10), you'll need to look for a model with more manual controls and a slightly higher megapixel count.

If you're going to be using your camera for professional graphics work or if your business depends on professional quality digital images, you're more in the market for a high quality digital [or film-based] SLR (single-reflex lense) camera.

The types of camera available today are:

  • Basic point-and-shoot Entry-level digital cameras are a great solution for two types of users: those who plan to take and share small images of medium quality, and people wanting a starter camera to help them get the hang of digital photography before they buy more expensive equipment. Resolutions for these cameras top out at about 3 megapixels; manual settings are minimal; LCDs (liquid-crystal displays) and optical zoom are rare. Most include software that makes downloading and editing images as easy as it gets.
  • Middle of the road If you like more control over your results, then you'll want a higher-end model with advanced features like manual shooting modes, quality optics, and more megapixels so you can make large prints and crop effectively. Most intermediate digital cameras have an LCD, a resolution span from 3 megapixels to just over 4 megapixels, and higher lens quality. Optical zoom and a USB port are universal. This is a large category with a broad range of features and prices.
  • High-end sophistication In the advanced digital camera category, you'll find more emphasis on creative control, like increased zoom capabilities. Lenses on cameras in this category tend to be of better quality; resolutions rarely dip below 4 megapixels; you get more memory bundled with your camera; and high-end features start to appear.

Please note, when purchasing a digital camera -- do not pay much attention to the digital zoom rating. The zoom that really matters that will actually make a picture look good as a closeup is the optical zoom rating.

Let's look at some specific cameras - click here.




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