By now everyone is familiar with the term “Megapixel”. This term is now what is mainly used to distinguish between different digital cameras. Essentially, the number of megapixels is a measure of the cameras resolution. “Mega” meaning “millions” and “pixel” is a term that comes from the computer industry (that was first used to describe a computer monitor’s resolution) and is derived from the words “picture” and “element” (Pix-el). So a 6 Megapixel Camera comes with a sensor that contains 6 million picture elements.
Any digital camera you find on the market today are highly automated with automatic features for exposure control and for focusing. The days of film are gone and now images are stored on a memory card (Flash Memory).
You have probably noticed the huge number of cameras available and the many different types. How can you pick from all the different megapixels, features, zoom, etc. Here are the 4 most important factors in making a decision on which Digital Camera to purchase.
Try not to get too caught up in the number of Megapixels offered. Even though there are cameras available to the average consumer with up to 10 (and even more) megapixels, the normal photographer and even most professional photographers can be very satisfied with even 7 megapixels.
More megapixels does not mean a higher quality photo. Other factors can be more related to the picture quality such as the lens and other features in the camera. More megapixels are only required if you frequently crop and/or significantly enlarge your photos.
2) Zoom Capability
First, make sure you know the difference between “optical zoom” and “digital zoom”. Optical zoom is actually done with the lenses of the camera while digital zoom merely magnify the center of the frame without actually increasing the detail of the picture. Most all cameras offer at least 3X optical zoom.
If you opt for more than this, the trade off could be size and weight of the camera. The reason to select a higher zoom range than the typical 3X is if you will frequently shoot subjects that are at a distance away such as wildlife or sporting events.
Most compact and sub-compact digital cameras have a zoom range higher than 3X (some as high as 7X). Super zoom cameras typically have zoom range above 10X. For SLR cameras the zoom is completely dependent on the lens that is mounted on the camera. Most SLR’s come with a lnes to allow up to 3X magnification.
3) Full Control or Automatic?
A compact digital camera that is fully automatic that has at least 3X of optical zoom will meet most people’s camera needs and even the needs of the more serious photo hobbyist. If you tend to shoot more photos of sports and/or outdoor subjects such as wildlife and nature in general then you may want to steer more toward the Digital SLR (DSLR) cameras.
The DLSRs offer the most flexibility in lens selection and manual features that allow the photographer to manipulate the exposure time as well as the aperture settings. Also, DSLR cameras offer a wider range of ISO settings (think light sensitivity) to allow shooting in lower light situations then the standard compact digital camera.
Typically most brands offer similar features at similar price points. But some things to keep in mind that are known within the photography community; Kodak is on the front edge of offering simplicity and ease of use for the photographer while Fujifilm offers image sensors with proprietary technology that give excellent image quality. Canon, Nikon and Olympus offer an amazing wide range of cameras that would satisfy any type of user.
Deciding on a Digital Camera can be tough with all the choices available, but if you can decide on the 4 main criteria described here it should make your decision much simpler and more satisfying that you have spent your money wisely.