Many of my friends have asked me about few things to look-out for while buying a digital camera. Here I try to capture some of these thoughts without going into too much technical details of each of them. I hope these will help in selecting a better digital camera while buying.
You are always welcome to add to these.
Camera Resolution is usually expressed as its Megapixel Count; it is basically a measure of the camera’s sensor’s ability to capture image details. The more Mega-pixel count the more image details camera can capture. This measure also determines the maximum image print size you can get out of a picture without loosing the image quality. A 3.1 Megapixel is good enough to have an A4 size image print.
However doubling Megapixel count does not mean doubling of image print-size as well.
- Zoom (Optical, Digital, Combined)
When I was buying a camera I had visited many shops, seen many brands. The general trend I noticed was that each shop-keeper quoted a very high level of zoom capabilities; which is probably true but not.
The Camera should only be judged on the amount of optical zoom it can provide. Optical zoom figure is a measure of how close you can go to the object without physically moving from your place and most importantly without loosing the slightest details in the image. The more optical zoom, the better.
Once you have reached maximum optical zoom, you can enlarge portion of the image using Digital zoom. Good computer software will provide better and more zoom. No need to bother much about this figure.
The combined zoom is simply a multiplication of Optical zoom and Digital Zoom.
- Lens (Schneider, Carl-Zeiss, Kodak)
The Most important aspect of camera is its lens. Carl-Zeiss, Schneider, Canon are some of the best lens manufacturers. Some camera manufactures offers their camera’s with either these or in-house made lenses. The cameras with in-house lens are usually priced cheaper, but at the same time image quality is not as good. Check out lens manufacture before buying a camera.
- Camera Storage Medium (SD Card, XD Card, CF Card, Memory Stick etc.)
These are different types of memory card formats. These days they are not of much concern however SD card seems to be used by most of the manufacturers. If you are buying a camera with 5MP or above image resolution, then buy a memory card with at least 512MB capacity.
It is not necessary to buy a memory card from the camera seller itself. Usually you would find a cheaper card at a computer seller’s store. Look out for the supported storage card format before buying.
- Image Stabilization (Optical/Lens, Electronic etc)
Image Stabilization compensates for the shaky hands while shooting image. It is good to have a camera with image stabilization, as it will provide you sharper pictures. Optical Image Stabilization becomes an essential factor particularly when you select a camera with 10x or more optical zoom capability.
- ISO Rating (100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200)
- Focus (Auto/Manual)
- Macro Focus (length)
- Flash Guide No (Usually distance)
- Flash Operating Modes (Red-Eye, Fill, No Flash)
- Battery (AA Size etc.)
- Camera Weight/Size
- Camera Make (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Kodak, Olympus etc.)
What to look-out for while selecting a entry-level digital camera?
As far as the entry level camera segment goes more or less all major camera manufacturers provide similar type of features. The most basic features that you could look out for are Resolution, Optical Zoom, Camera Lens, and probably a camera manufacturer. Size may also become criteria while selecting the camera in this category.
Buying a semi-professional to professional camera.
The most important aspects in this segment be to look out for would be Higher MP count, Higher Optical Zoom, Ability to connect external lens, Optical Image Stabilization, Easy of use, and Manual Controls. Ability to connect external flash may also become a deciding factor. Buy a camera from a reputed brand.