There’s no such thing as the perfect camera for all occasions. It depends on what features are most important to you and how you will use the camera.
What to consider when choosing a digital camera
Before you choose a digital camera, you need to know about:
- Compact camera or SLR?
- Memory cards
- Shutter delay
- Video output
Compact camera or SLR?
For size, weight, price and everyday video, you can’t beat a compact digital camera.
If you want a high degree of manual control for different situations, a huge array of lenses for greater flexibility, a viewfinder that looks through the lens and works in daylight, a camera that fires up quickly and has a fast shutter speed, then choose an SLR.
More megapixels does not mean a better image. It just allows you to print a bigger picture without your being able to see individual pixels.
A camera with around 8.0 megapixels is a good starting point. If you want to print your photos at very large sizes (bigger than A4), you may want to consider a higher resolution. Professional photographers tend to use cameras with 12 megapixels or more.
This is the main form of storage for your images. There are many types of cards available, but most cameras will only accept one.
The type of memory card is less important than storage capacity because they’re all physically small and their cost is tied to memory capacity.
The capacity of most of the cards supplied with the cameras isn’t large, so you should consider buying a bigger one.
Digital cameras are usually pretty power hungry and as a general rule rechargeable nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries are a good idea.
Normal alkaline batteries are an advantage when travelling but as most cameras don’t use them, having a spare rechargeable is a good idea.
Shutter delay means how long it takes from when the shutter button is pressed until the shutter opens to take the picture.
Many cameras are slow without pre-focus engaged, taking one second or more to respond — too slow to catch really spontaneous photos. The quickest are under one-third of a second.
All models are much faster when prefocus is engaged.
A video connection port allows you to look at your pictures or movies on TV. This is a handy way to show your pictures to a group and makes your digital camera a highly portable display device as well as a camera.
Some of the latest cameras have a High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) allowing you to easily connect your camera to a flat screen LCD or plasma TV.
Some cameras have an optical viewfinder which you look through, as well as an LCD monitor on the back of the camera.
Some cameras have a viewfinder which is really a very small LCD screen. These tend to be acccurate, but can be slow to refresh in some circumstances which makes them less effective when taking pictures of fast moving objects.
This is a way for digital cameras and inkjet printers to communicate via a USB cable.
The printer and camera don't have to be of the same brand.
Once connected, the camera can control the basic printer functions so you can print without the need for a computer.
Visit the CHOICE website for more information on its product testing. Or check out the full CHOICE Digital cameras report.
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