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Digital Camera Buying Guide

Looking to buy a digital camera or other digital camera related items? Not sure which one to choose? It's not suprising with so many different makes and models on the market there is a vast and sometimes overwhelming choice. In our guide below we'll try and cut out the jargon and hopefully point you in the right direction.

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One of the most common questions that we are asked is - what digital camera should I buy? Which one should I choose??

It is unfortunately however a bit of a how long is a peice of string? type question. Every person has different requirements and want their cameras for differing reasons. Some of the mistakes that we see repeated is that people often go for the most expensive option that their budget will stretch to. They decide that they want the camera with the most bells & whistles - regardless whether they will ever use half of the features available. Often they are convinced by over eager, commission based sales people, that they need the very latest (read expensive) model. We will try to debunk these myths with the advice detailed below.

To make it easier to choose just think of the following five questions and you will have a better idea of which camera will be the most suitable for YOU!

1] What will you use the camera for??

Will it be family snaps, holidays, everyday events etc?? If so then you should look for a camera that has ease of use, lightweight and without an extensive range of features, that may well add to the price, but which you may never use. After all most digital cameras these days take relatively good pictures and the quality is always improving.

For those who want to be a little more creative with photography or already have a knowledge of cameras then it is important that you choose a camera that can be controlled to produce your desired visual effects. A camera with manual exposure controls, extra optical zoom and advanced shooting options will allow for far more creativity.

2] What is your budget??

Obviously how much you have to spend will play a large part when it comes to choosing a suitable camera. A relatively simple point & click digital camera will not be expensive and prices are falling all the time. For something a little more advanced then you will have to be a little more flexible and realistic when setting your budget.

3] How many megapixels??

One of the often quoted features of digital cameras is megapixels and this can be confusing for some. It is not always neccesary to go for the highest number of megapixels and a higher number can actually be quite disadvantageous in some circumstances.

Made simple the higher the number of megapixels on your camera will allow you to make prints larger in size while still keeping crisp quality. In reality, for standard photos, anything 3 megapixels or above will suffice if you are wanting to print out your photos in say an ordinary 4x6 format. If you're going to start blowing your images up to larger sizes then you might want to pay extra to have a camera with a higher number of megapixels.

Remember that the higher number of megapixels a photo is taken with the more storage space you will need. As a simple example a photo taken on an 8 megapixel camera will need twice as much space on a memory card as a photo taken on a 4 megapixel camera.

6] Digital or Optical zoom?

All digital cameras come with a built in zoom allowing you to get closer to your subject when taking phtotos. There are two types of zoom - digital and optical. Digital zooms simply enlarge the pixels in your shot which does make your subject look bigger, but the downside is that the quality can be compromised. Whilst optical zoom uses the lens optics to zoom into the scene. Generally speaking - an optical zoom gives better results.

5] What about Batteries and memory??

Often overlooked by first time buyers, but very important when choosing a digital camera is what memory comes with and what is available. Digital Camera's come with a slot for a variety of media cards. The most common type of memory card is the SD (secure digital) format. The bigger the amount of memory available the more photos you will be able to take without changing media card. If you are planning to use your camera regularly then you will quickly realise the benefits of having a large amount of memory available. There is nothing more annoying than having to delete photos when you are out and about because you have run out of space on your memory card.

With regards to batteries - digital cameras can be very power hungry - most cameras have either AA sized Ni-MH batteries or carry their own lithium battery pack. Both of these types are rechargeable but if you choose a camera with Ni-MH batteries you may have to buy an additional charger. High-capacity rechargeable Nickle-metal hydride (Ni-MH) AA batteries are relatively cheap and very efficient. They also have the added benefit that they are widely available and can easily be swopped out and replaced when the battery life runs down.

Tip: If your budget will stretch to it look to buying an extra set of batteries/battery pack and some extra memory compatible with your camera. The first time you run out of either memory or battery life you will be thankful for this tip.

Whilst we hope that the above information is helpful it is not intended to be a comprehensive guide of every aspect of digital cameras. It will however give you a good start when trying to select a camera to meet your own needs.

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