So many digital cameras – finding the one that’s right for you

Today’s digital cameras have come a long way even a few years ago. They offer more features and power than ever before – at prices that make upgrading to a new model an attractive option. That’s all you need to know before you buy.

How much do I have to pay?

First of all, the cost is in the minds of most people. Digital sounds are expensive, but that’s not anymore. There are cameras with great features, available for just $100 – great starter cameras, or great for kids.

Of course, you can spend more than that – as many as several thousand on the most advanced single-lens digital cameras (DSLRs). However, unless you’re a professional who needs interchangeable lenses and everything hand-held, you can get a great camera for 150 to 400 dollars. It all depends on what you want to do with your camera and photos.

What is a megapixel and how much do I need?

Digital photos consist of pixels, which is a computer speaking element of the image. Collect a thousand of these small squares together and you have a megapixel MP at a glance. Any digital camera you consider to be digital will have several megapixels associated with it, but a higher one is not necessarily better.

Megapixels affect the resolution of your digital photos – this is the potential transparency of your photos. If you choose a high-capacity camera such as 10MP, you’ll get rich, detailed photos, ideal for large prints. You can also crop the photo and enlarge the section for your own photo without losing clarity.

That sounds good, right? The downside is that the higher the resolution of the photo, the more space the memory card will take up, so you won’t be able to take so many photos unless you have extra storage space.

TIP: If you don’t need to make large prints, but want to print standard sizes such as 4″ x 6″ or 5″ x 7″, or send an e-mail or publish your photos online, a 5-6 megapixel camera will work well for you.

How much control do I have over my camera settings?

The short answer is the same or as small as with the same camera. Many digital cameras allow you to choose the level of control, from fully automatic, where the camera makes all decisions, to fully manual, where you can start a show.

Between these options, pre-set shooting modes are helpful. They make it easy to take clear, well-exposed pictures in different settings – bright sunlight, at night, during a sporting event, in the theatre. Another fun feature is the ability to change to black-and-white or sepia images for added versatility. In addition, some cameras help prevent red eyes and other common problems.

TIP: Compare shooting modes and design features when shopping. Look for typical modes such as Landscape, Portrait, and Action. Then check if they are different – for example, night mode or snow mode.

If you want more control over the variables in your digital camera, you can have the same. In addition to predefined settings, many cameras, especially in the middle and upper price ranges, allow you to manually set the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO – or set one manually and have the camera choose the best settings for the rest.

Play with these different options and see how your photos change. And one big advantage of digital photos is that if your experiment fails, you can delete the photo and take more.

What is the difference between optical and digital zoom?

Optical zoom is the distance between the camera lens and the camera body (its focal length). It allows you to get closer to the subject without having to move around and without blocking or creating pixels in the photo.

Digital Zoom stretches the pixels of the camera to make the photo look bigger – just like cropping and enlarging the photo, but this happens directly in the camera.

Digital cameras often show combined optical and digital zoom. This is achieved by multiplying two numbers together. For example, a camera with 3x optical zoom and 8x digital zoom will have a total of 24x zoom.

TIP: Pay special attention to the optical zoom, as this will bring the images closer together.

What about the camera size – it is heavier – is better?

Digital cameras are built to withstand a lot, so choose the style that suits your needs. The slim, small model is handy because it fits easily in your handbag or pocket, so there’s no problem with draining, which you can take on family trips or excursions.

Slightly larger models also offer some helpful features, such as a larger LCD screen for taking and viewing photos, and often more manual control.

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