What should I take into account when shopping for a digital camera

Before buying a digital camera you should think about what you intend to use it for. If you are looking for a model for taking snapshots at family gatherings or on holiday, for example, you would be best served by a fully automatic compact or compact zoom camera that takes care of all the details.

For users who want the convenience allowed by a compact, easy-to-use model but also wish to be able to add their own personal touches from time to time, there are a number of competitively priced user-friendly cameras that offer a range of adjustable settings, such as shutter speed, aperture and white balance, as well as picture effects like ^sepia recording.

To meet the quality and performance requirements of the professional photographer, the camera needs to combine a very high ^resolution and precise lens with extensive shooting control. It should also allow the connection of accessories, such as converter lenses and external flash systems, including, via an ^x-contact, studio flashes. A variety of models, mainly digital SLRs, meet these criteria.

So, what features should you look for in a digital camera? Digital photography is all too often described as digital technology plus some photo technology. However, it is actually photo technology that uses digital technology. Therefore high resolution lenses, efficient flash systems and, if desired, manually adjustable parameters are important in a digital camera.

^Zoom lenses let you get closer to the subject. Generally, the larger and more powerful the zoom lens, the more expensive and heavier the camera (though digital camera zoom lenses are far more compact and lighter that those on film cameras). For everyday use, a 3x lens is usually sufficient. Where it is too difficult - or too dangerous -to get close to the subject, such as when taking pictures of the action at large sporting events or

Zoom versatility

Zoom versatility

of animals in the wild, an 8x or 10x lens is very helpful. Many models also feature digital zooms. While these provide additional magnification power, they are accompanied by a reduction in resolution, which in turn means a decrease in image quality.

Fast shutter speeds of 1/1000 sec. and quicker are also desirable when taking pictures of quickly moving subjects, such as birds or cars. On the other hand, you should look for a camera that offers very slow exposure times if you intend to take pictures in low light or at night, for example.

As a rule of thumb, if you ensure that the digital camera you want to buy has all the features you would look for in a traditional (film) camera, you can hardly go wrong.

Undeniably, price is also a strong factor when choosing a camera, but this should not be the only criterion. With photography, it's the result that counts and therefore you should consider the picture quality of the camera before you decide to buy.

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