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A Quick Checklist Before Buying a Digital Camera

September 21st, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

In a quandary as to what kind of digital camera to invest in? Should you buy the cheap one first or go straight for the Rolls Royce of digital cameras? Digital cameras can be extremely notorious for making you regret the “buy cheap first” decision. Getting an understanding of what digital cameras can and probably cannot do will go a long way in guiding you to buy that first one. Here are seven things to look out for:

  1. Categories of a camera
    • ultra compact–by far, the lowest of the low-end, no flash, no zoom, no nothing; just aim and shoot;
    • compact–for the hobbyist, basic features;
    • digital SLR cameras–single-lens reflex cameras, for the serious photographer.
  2. Mega pixels
    • 2 mega pixels–for basic snapshots; small prints are okay but pixelation occurs when the photos are enlarged;
    • between 3 and 5 mega pixels–you can count on good quality prints;
    • 5 mega pixels and above–aside from producing excellent quality large prints, you can easily do image manipulation.
  3. Zoom
    • optical zoom factor–by magnifying the light entering the main lens, distant objects appear close; this produces good quality photos;
    • digital zoom factor–magnifies the resulting image.
  4. Carrying case and tripod
  5. Most reasonably priced cameras will bundle these two items in the same package but very likely, the case will only be a pouch, which is just enough for the camera itself. If you have decided to “soup up” your digital camera, then you should also invest in a more spacious carrying case.

    The same can be said about the tripod, the bundled one will very likely be one of those 3-inch table top tripods which may also be wobbly. The tripod helps keep the shots stable and also to take advantage of the timer. The serious shutterbug will want to invest in a much taller and more stable tripod.

  6. Storage media
  7. Most digital cameras have some built in memory but do not count on this to store your photos because the memory size is very small. You will find that the built-in memory easily runs out when taking pictures of 5 mega pixels and above. Invest in a compact flash or secure digital flash card. 256 Kb will give you good enough storage when taking high mega pixel shots. But if you are an avid clicker, consider getting at least a 1 Gb card.

  8. Battery
  9. One of the most overlooked accessories is by far the battery. Most lower priced cameras will come bundled with a no-name battery which is almost tantamount to no reliability. People will tell you that these batteries should last at least a year but do not be surprised if these kinds of batteries breaks down in less than a year. The good news is that these batteries have model numbers and you can find a suitable replacement from a reputable manufacturer.

  10. Lenses and filters
  11. Just like traditional cameras, there are digital cameras that allow additional lenses to be attached or completely changeable. Three basic lens types are:

    • macro lens–allows you to take close-ups of objects like insects and flowers;
    • wide-angle lens–self-explanatory, used to capture large and wide sceneries;
    • telephoto lens–can you say paparazzi?

Filters can be used to soften or enhance images, which means adding more drama some shots.

It also helps to talk to your relatives or friends who have already owned a digital camera for some time. Their input plus the tips that you have just read will go a long way in helping you invest in a gadget that will give you hours of fun and capture moments that you will cherish.

Simon Wu

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