I’m a firm believer in the power of choice. Choice in cars, choice in cable providers, choice in which movies I watch, and choice in how I live my life. Freedom of choice is in our constitution and charter of rights. I’m also a firm believer in keeping things simple, and there is such a thing as too much choice. Take digital cameras for instance. As of today, Amazon has 3,859 digital cameras (and accessories) listed ranging in price from $24,995.00 all the way down to $40.99. That’s not choice, that’s a nightmare!
Well, were do we go from here? I did promise a SIMPLE guide to digital camera buying, and I meant it. Let’s apply the 90% rule from one of my favorite old science fiction writers Theodore Sturgeon. Theo said (and I loosely quote): “90% of everything is crap”. With that in mind, let’s eliminate all the crap. Let’s only look at the top cameras from whatever category / budget were interested in. In other words, as your reading any camera reviews, don’t bother with a camera if it doesn’t receive at least a 4 or a 5 star review.
Next, draw up a short list of the most important features for you. Here’s a few to choose from :
- megapixels (at least 5 or 6)
- image sensor size (bigger is better . . . not megapixels, that’s different . . . if the salesperson
can’t answer this, find another salesperson)
- zoom lens (anything more than 12x or 70mm and you’ll probably need a SLR)
- LCD screen (at least 2.5 inches and 230,000 pixels)
- image stabilization (great for shaking hands and slow ISO settings)
- face detection / auto focus ( not essential, but could save a few bad pictures)
- battery performance (most cameras give a rating based on number of pictures you can
take with one set of batteries)
- flash recharge time (slow recharge times can result in missed pictures)
- size (choose from ultra compact, compact, or extra case need just for lenses)
- SLR or point and shoot ( pros vs amateurs)
- ISO settings (if your into manual tweaking)
- built in camera editing (things like removing red eye)
- macro lens function ( for photographers that like to take pictures of really really tiny things)
- memory cards (some take CF, some take SD, some take both . . . what you already
own may help you decide)
Once you have your short list of features, it’s time to try a few cameras out. I like to visit the camera store, and take lots of pictures. Go during the off hours, and find a helpful salesperson. Ask question, take pictures, ask more questions. Wash rinse repeat with a couple of cameras, and even a couple of salespersons if necessary. Pretty soon, you’ll know what you like.