On to a few of my “hot points”- the questions I consider most important in choosing a digital camera.
- Is Simplicity Number One?
- Action Shots?
- Do I Think I’m a Pro?
- Form or Function?
- Batteries? These things need BATTERIES?
- Digital Film?
Let’s take a look at these points one at a time:
Being able to grab the camera and snap a shot FAST can be a good thing when you are on vacation, have kids or at lots of other times but be aware that the cheaper simple cameras may take some time to save a picture and may not “cycle” (take pics one after another) very quickly.
Pictures of fast moving objects (race cars, athletic events or children) need a fast camera or else your pictures will be blurry. Photo editing software can only do so much, after all… As a rule, more money will generally get you a camera that is better at photographing action shots even on the low end of cameras.
3) Do I think I’m a Professional?
Getting a camera that has all the capability in the world, with features and buttons and menus may be great, but if you aren’t REALLY motivated to learn how to use it will most likely end up frustrating you and being a waste of time and money. There is nothing WRONG with getting all the bells and whistles, but they may not be what you really want or need.
4) Form or Function?
There are some fancy, stylish cameras out there and they may be what is best suited for you but they have negative points: most are of the small, easy to carry type BUT they may not use standard batteries and often can only charge or connect to a computer with a docking station. Quality also tends to suffer when compared to similar priced but less style-oriented cameras.
5) Battery Life
There are a lot of things that affect battery life in a camera: type and size of battery and size of the LCD view/preview screen are two of the biggies. Having a small, fast, easy to use camera is great- but if it has an internal battery that can only charge in your computer and runs out after 20 pictures, it may be less than useful.
6) What’s this about Film?
While its true that digital cameras don’t use film, per se, they DO need to store your pictures. And you need to get those pictures off of the camera, eventually. There are two basic types as far as storing and transferring pictures:
1. Internal memory (requires computer to do anything)
2. External memory (can be upgraded or swapped for more storage without a computer)
Only the cheapest cameras nowadays will have just internal storage and unless you are buying a camera for a kid, you are not likely to want one of these.
Storage media comes in various formats and may be something you never need to think about after buying your camera. On the other hand…. having a spare memory card lets you take more pictures without needing to connect to a computer and usually makes transferring images to the computer much faster using a card reader.
I know this may not yet seem to have made choosing a digital camera any easier yet, but take these points one at a time, think about them. Decide what REALLY suits your desires best. For many folks an inexpensive $100 camera is really all they need or want and will do exactly what they want. For others, anything less than a $750 digital SLR is a waste of money. Most of us will be somewhere in the middle, and figuring out just where we fit in before we even look at any cameras will make the whole process of buying and living with a digital camera MUCH easier.
Next time: Software that does stuff with pictures.