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Digital Camera Buying Guide

If your camera phone is leaving you with dark, blurry images then it may be time to find a new camera. Digital cameras use a combination of light and mirrors to capture your precious memories, giving them a huge picture-taking advantage over phone cameras. Purchasing a digital camera can provide the features you need to take a frame-worthy still from your kids' soccer games, musical performances or your own celebrations. With a little bit of research and assessing what your main needs are, you can easily find the camera that's right for you.

Why buy a new digital camera?

  • New digital point-and-shoot cameras come with easy-to-use settings to suit your specific photography needs.
  • Digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras give you professional quality photographs you can use on family Christmas cards or to take portraits of your children.
  • New technology allows for automatic settings that will change the f-stop and shutter speed before you even take the photograph. This adjusts the amount of light you take in, so when you snap the picture, your end result is an evenly lit and sharp image no matter what.

Other considerations and features of digital cameras

Photo technology

  • Megapixels are the number of pixels per million that your camera records
  • Image sensors pick up the surrounding light to create your image
  • ISO sensitivity rates the camera's ability to shoot in low-light situations
  • Image stabilization counteracts the movement of your hands for perfect stills
  • Optical and digital zoom allow you to take a close-up of your subject
  • Waterproof or water resistant cameras can withstand moisture
  • DSLR and point-and-shoot cameras both have similar technological advances but differ in other features

Learn more about camera features and settings


Physical features

  • Detachable DSLR lenses can include wide angle, standard, telephoto, macro and fisheye
  • Different size LCD displays are available
  • Articulated screens make it easy to show your favorite shots while you hold your camera
  • Rechargeable battery packs or disposable batteries offer you different options when deciding on a camera

Learn more about camera features


Camera settings

  • Video recording allows you to capture moments not only in stills but also in motion
  • Manual settings give you full control over your camera and allow you to adjust aperture, f-stop and shutter speed
  • Shooting modes like continuous shooting, low light, portrait, landscape, macro, nighttime, sports and panorama offer a quick way to change the setting on your camera for a perfect shot whether you want a change in depth of field or want to capture moving images




Additional features

  • GPS tracks exactly where you take each photo
  • Wi-Fi allows wireless access to cloud storage and social media apps for quick and easy sharing



Types of digital cameras

Digital point-and-shoot cameras

Often referred to as a compact camera, a point-and-shoot camera is easy-to-use. Just press the shutter and you've got a perfectly focused picture that's ready for Internet sharing or scrapbooking.

  • Price range: $50-$500
  • Megapixel range: 5-16mp
  • Screen Size: 1.5-3 inches



Digital point-and-shoot cameras are best for...

Beginners: These cameras are great for young people and adults looking to learn the basics of photography.


People who need user-friendly devices: All you have to do is point and press the button. You don't have to adjust advanced camera settings and complicated modes.


Families on a budget: With point-and-shoots starting at around $50, these cameras are affordable and capture family memories.





Digital SLR cameras

Digital single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras combine the use of mirrors and an image sensor to give you high quality shots in a digital format. DSLRs give you more artistic freedom to create unique photographs with manual settings and automated modes alike.

  •  Price range: $400-$1,800
  •  Megapixel range: 12-24mp
  •  Screen Size: 2.1-3 inches

Digital SLR cameras are best for...

Advanced photographers: DSLRs give you the freedom and flexibility to manually change settings and take unique nighttime photos. If you want to photograph the moon, for example, the DSLR is for you. This way, you get the photograph you were imagining in your head.

Travelers: While DSLRS are bulky, the picture quality makes up for the space they take up while you pack. With higher megapixel counts, you'll be able to blow up that gorgeous shot to poster size without losing any of the quality.


Families looking for professional quality shots: If you're familiar with photography and want professional quality portraits or perfect stills of your kids' sporting events, this style of camera will give you all that and more.






Bottom Line

For beginners and users who aren't interested in tampering with aperture and shutter speed, point-and-shoot cameras take pictures without manual mayhem. Point-and-shoots also fall within a small budget, so you're not spending your savings on a camera where you won't use all the features. Photography lovers and those interested in creating high-quality keepsakes will get the most out of a DSLR. You'll have crystal clear images you can give as gifts or keep for yourself. This may be a steep investment, but you won't need any other camera once you learn all the features and functions of your DSLR. Decide what's right for you based on your current needs, and you'll find the camera that suits your lifestyle.