With the explosion of digital camera models in the last few years, it’s quite hard, if not impossible, to keep up with the evolution and assess which gadget fits your needs. This article is meant to be a brief digital camera buying guide, in the hope it will guide you on the right track. There are three main categories of consumer cameras, and we will try to brief them here.
1. Point and Shoot Cameras
If you need a camera that is easy to handle and don’t want to worry about adjusting functions manually, then point-and-shooters are for you. They come with perfect tools for amateur photographers, like red eye removal and hand shake reduction. They are lightweight, easily portable and can fit in your top jacket pocket. They usually come with a tiny 1.8″ LCD screen, enough for most users to frame the shot.
2. Compact cameras
Compact cameras are the next step from point-and-shooters. While they don’t provide features professionals crave for, they introduce more advanced features, like image stabilization technology that helps photos not get blurry in dim or low light conditions. They are medium sized and could fit in a pocket. The LCD size is in the range of 2.0 to 2.5″, still smaller than the ones on professional cameras.
3. Advanced compact cameras
While resembling DSLR body appearance, these cameras offer functionalities resembling the ones provided by professional cameras, like manual aperture control and manual adjustment of exposure and white balance. They have higher ISO, higher resolution and have larger capabilities. Some of these also allow attaching lenses and filters, yet they don’t rise up to the performance of a full blown SLR. Regarding the size, they are usually big and should be carried in a bag. The screen is 2.8 or 3.0″, as large as the one on DSLR’s.
Although this article is not about professional cameras, a quick note on DSLR’s is needed. The body of the SLR is usually sold separately from the lenses, allowing the photographer to choose the ones needed for a particular picture. These cameras come with a whole lot of functionalities you can adjust manually. They can be extremely tricky to handle by amateurs (the user manual, for example, for my Nikon D60 is 250 pages long. You get the point…)