A holistic approach to buying a new digital camera
Many buy a new camera based on just a few parameters like purchase price and megapixels. This is unfortunate as there is much more to a new digital camera buying decision. This article will describe a holistic approach to that decision.
In the early days of the digital camera era buying a new camera was relatively an easy decision. Digital cameras did not have many options and checking simple things like price and the number of megapixels was enough. Since then however digital cameras have evolved and became more sophisticated. They have many new features and options. They can work with different accessories and use different technologies. Today when making a decision on a new digital camera a holistic approach that takes the different features and options into account is more suitable.
So what does it take to make a decision on a brand new digital camera? Following is a breakdown of what to check for when buying one. This list is not complete and you should use it as a guide to understanding the complexity of choosing a digital camera.
Cost: Do not confuse cost with purchase price. Purchase price is what you pay to buy the camera. Cost is the total money you need to spend including the purchase price in order to effectively use the camera. In most cases you will spend additional money on accessories and other additional products such as lenses, batteries, carrying cases and more. Failing to budget for those extra expenses can result in buying a camera just to find out it can not be effectively used without spending more.
User knowledge: It is important to buy a digital camera that is appropriate for its user’s photography level. If you are technology and photography savvy you can consider higher end cameras that allow more flexibility and manual options but are harder to use. Digital SLR cameras fall into that category. If you are not into photography or technology you might want to choose a camera that is easier to use such as a digital point a shoot one.
Expected usage: The digital camera you choose should be appropriate for its intended use. For example if you travel a lot for long periods of time you want to pay attention to features such as camera weight, size, battery life and memory storage. On the other hand if you hardly travel at all these features are less important.
Basic features: There are some basic features that are common to most if not all digital cameras. These features are:
Megapixels: you can not avoid the number of megapixels question. Is more megapixels better? It really depends. More megapixels is important if you are going to print photos and enlargements or if you are going to zoom in and crop photos. However if you plan to view the photos on your computer screen and occasionally print 4X6 copies then 2 or 3 megapixels is more than enough. Buying a digital camera with more megapixels is not a drawback but you should make sure that you could not have used the extra money spent on megapixels for other features that are more useful to you.
Batteries: Digital cameras use two kind of batteries disposable or rechargeable. Disposable batteries are easy to buy, carry and replace. They are available in any store and are very convenient when traveling. Disposable batteries however are more costly to use as you need to keep buying new batteries. Rechargeable batteries require only one purchase. However if they are empty during a photo shooting session or somewhere away from home or a power supply you can not just buy another battery. Take into account the cost of extra batteries based on the expected digital camera usage.
Zoom: There are two types of zoom – optical and digital. Optical zoom works by physically moving the camera’s lenses and changing the focal length. Digital zoom works by applying built-in software in the camera to define a portion of interest in the photo. Once chosen the software crops the rest of the photo and enlarges the area you chose. For quality and other reasons optical zoom is superior to digital zoom. From a practical point of view digital zoom should not be considered zoom at all. When you compare different digital cameras zoom figures always compare their optical zoom capabilities. You should ignore the digital zoom figures.
Accessories: Digital cameras can use a large number of accessories. You should be aware of what accessories are supported by your camera and which accessories you deem important to you. These should be taken into account in your buying decision. Some of the common accessories to consider:
Memory cards: Digital cameras store photos as files on a memory device usually a removable memory card. Most digital cameras are sold with a very small memory card. This lowers their purchase price. Such a small memory card can hold a small number of photos and is not practical. When buying a digital camera always check how much memory is included. Then assess how much memory you will need and check the prices of memory cards appropriate for you. Add this cost to the total cost of buying the new digital camera.
PC connectivity: Digital cameras connect to computers in order to download photos. The most common methods of connectivity are USB and plugging the camera’s memory card directly to the PC. Make sure that your camera includes the USB cable needed to connect to the PC. If you prefer connecting the removable memory directly to your PC budget an adaptor that can bridge between the memory card and the slots available in your PC.
Lenses: High-end digital cameras such as digital SLR often require additional lenses. When reviewing your camera check what lenses are included with the camera. If you need more lenses shop around for ones that fit your camera and budget their price. Lenses can be very expensive and can cost more than the camera itself. For example when buying an SLR camera for outdoor photography that requires zoom lenses make sure you budget such lenses that fit the camera you plan to buy.
External Flash: Most likely that you will not need to buy an external flash unit. If do need an external flash in addition to your camera’s built-in one make sure that you shop for one that can work with the camera and budget its cost before purchasing the camera. External flash units prices can vary and can be a costly addition.
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