With so many options on the market choosing a digital camera can be daunting, especially if you’re new to photography. There are some basic digital camera functions to consider when you’re ready to take the plunge. Here’s what to look for so you find the best digital camera to fit your needs.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s best to start with basics. Most models will include a projected battery life with the product specs, but read some reviews and be sure to keep in mind what you’re planning to do with the camera. Wi-Fi connection, photo sharing, and shooting HD video all have a tendency to drain battery life. There’s also the question of the type of battery: do you prefer to charge the battery or would you rather buy AAs?
When you’re shopping for the best digital camera, it can often seem like it’s all about the megapixels. It’s important, for sure, but the number count isn’t the end-all, be-all when it comes to image quality. Megapixels matter most when it comes to printing, or if you’re planning on blowing up a specific portion of a photo. Simply put, they’re the dots of digital information that make up your image. The more you have, the better-printed image you’ll produce—but your lens is far more important for overall image quality.
Your lens matters most when it comes to camera quality. If you’re opting for a DSLR, you have far more options to consider regarding lenses. With a DSLR, you have the option of changing out your lenses and using a professional-grade lens on an amateur-grade camera body, if you so choose. You have considerably fewer options with a point-and-shoot, but not all point-and-shoot lenses are created equal. Sony tops our list for the best lens on a point-and-shoot with their Carl Zeiss models. Zoom functionality is an important factor when it comes to considering your lens as well. An optical zoom adjusts the image by changing the length of the lens; a digital zoom adjusts the image itself in the camera sensor. Because of this, an optical zoom produces much higher-quality images. The higher the number on the camera (a 30x optical zoom vs. a 5x optical zoom), the farther away you can stand from your subject.
Not being able to shoot high-definition video on a digital camera would be a waste, unless you have no interest in shooting video at all. Even the most basic models of point-and-shoots now have video capability. High-end DSLRs can often shoot professional-grade video footage (Canon’s 60D is a great consumer-grade example), and because they offer so many other functions, straight video camcorders may be on their way out. If you’re looking to make broadcast-grade videos, you’ll want to look for 1080p HD video capabilities, but if you’re like most people and will likely only share videos online or watch on a computer, 720p HD capability works great.
Don’t get caught up in trying to find a model that boasts every single buzzword you’ve heard, but checking out special extras can make the difference between a satisfied customer and a happy one. A camera with image stabilization is crucial: this mitigates your shaky hand and is especially important if you’re not a very experienced photographer. Facial detection is another one, as your viewfinder will highlight what it recognizes as human faces and hold the focus. Having a manual focus option is another nice feature, as it allows for a bit more user control.
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