The Digital Camera Marketplace is Huge So How Do You Decide?
In this digital age, there are literally hundreds of digital cameras to choose from…and with that many cameras, comes a multitude of different pros and cons. So how do you wade through all that information and finally pick the right one for you? Things such as…
Megapixels – Sensor Size – Lens Zoom – Continuous Shoot Rate – Built-in-Flash – Inter-changeable Lenses – Automatic – Manual – Types of Memory – Video Features
…are all things to consider. The thing about me is that I don’t like buying cheap, but at the same time I don’t like paying over the odds for anything. When I first decided to try digital cameras, I had been using film for 20 years, so I put my feet in the water by buying a good, point and shoot compact camera.
I figured that I would use it for “snapping” my new-born son and as a “take everywhere” camera, and leaving the rest of my kit for work. Having some degree of photography knowledge behind me, I looked for a camera with the following;
- A make that I had heard of and read good things about from the film world.
- Sturdy and robust (in case the baby got hold of it).
- All the features I needed such as a zoom lens, built in flash, 4 mega pixels or above, good memory capabilities and the “feel good” factor.
- Lastly, I wanted it to have at least one or two manual features that I could be creative with, not all digital cameras have these functions.
I finally opted for the (now dated) Konica Digital Revio KD-400. It had a solid stainless steel casing, felt reassuringly heavy to the touch and produced some amazing photographs. I actually had one image blown up to A1 (approx. 16 x A4) and displayed in a shop window. It looked great.
Update: More than 8 years on and this compact digital camera is still going strong and my son is now using it himself!
It was only after I had been using the camera for a while that I read some reviews by “experts” and was pleasantly surprised at the consistently high praise. Eight years later and that camera has now seen better days plus the digital cameras around now absolutely blow this out of the water. Even some mobile phone cameras have many times the resolution!
Surprisingly, a few months later, I also acquired a more up to date Canon point and shoot digital compact as part of the first prize for a golf competition, and the difference was incredible.
Good or bad?
It was one of the cheaper digital “point-and-shoot” cameras in their range and it felt very light and plastic, and more difficult to use than the Konica. It had very bad shutter lag (caused by slow auto focus) and worst of all, when using normal AA batteries, the camera lasted for about 30 photographs before I was told to replace them.
My point is that even well bred manufacturers sometimes throw a “runt” into the digital camera litter, so it is important to read the reviews carefully before making your choice, especially at the higher end of the market. Also make sure the person you are listening to has at least, some degree of knowledge.
This section is to help you make that choice, because once you have the right digital camera, it should last you for years. As a plus with “digital film”, you should save your money back over and over again whether you are a professional or just looking for a family point-and-shoot camera.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out that without the film and processing costs, there are great savings to be had. The beauty of this is that you can shoot an infinite amount of photographs at no extra cost except that of digital storage and media for all those digital files.
However, take my advice and PLEASE delete the ones you DON’T want to keep. Being a professional photographer, in just over 12 months I have added over 30,000 photographs to my PC’s hard drive and it is straining at the seams.
I STILL DON’T KNOW WHICH DIGITAL CAMERA TO BUY!
Ask yourself the following questions, then click on which style of camera below, you think might be for you.
- What do I need the digital camera for?
As an everyday family camera, sometimes used at events or holidays, a serious hobby camera or as a money-earning tool?
- How much money do I want to spend?
Prices vary from £100 up to £8,000 for a top professional Digital SLR. Work out where you fit in and remember to include peripherals and accessories (Memory cards, cases, bags, filters etc.) in your budget.
- Will I want to upgrade in the future?
The chances are that as you progress and learn with this hobby/profession, you will no doubt want to upgrade later on. Get a camera now that will meet you requirements now AND in the near future and remember, it is the lenses that will last a long time, not the camera so choose wisely.
- Do I want to make money from photography and my digital camera?
If you are looking at making a living from photography, or using it as a side-line, you will need mid-range and slightly more expensive kit. I would recommend the Semi Professional DSLR (bottom left!)
- Will I want to be more creative with manual controls?
Will you want to take Macro (Close up) shots, need a zoom lens for wildlife or want to take photos at night. Think about how you will use the camera and read up accordingly.
- How big do I want to print the photographs?
The size of the sensor in the camera has a direct bearing on how big the files will print on paper without losing quality. If you will need constantly large prints (over 10″ x 8″), you will need 6-8 mega pixels and upwards. Remember, it is the size of the sensor in a digital camera that counts and the quality of images, particularly in low light!
Digital cameras are being constantly upgraded, so if you purchase a camera now that will service all your needs, you shouldn’t have to upgrade for a while as long as you ignore all the “bells and whistles” that get added these days (face recognition, smile detection etc) . What I will say though, is really think about what you want the camera for, because if in a year or so you are taking photography more seriously, you WILL want to upgrade.