What factors should you consider when purchasing a digital camera?

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Resolution. A camera$s resolution is affected by pixel count and compression. Pixels are tiny building blocks of color in your images; the more you pixels you have, the clearer and more rich your image will be. Cameras use compression to reduce your image size. While compression provides additional storage space, it reduces the quality of your image. To achieve the highest resolution, look for cameras that have high pixel count and low compression. Exposure and light Aperture selections, shutter-speed capabilities, ISO numbers and lens latitude are important features related to light and exposure. Aperture and shutter speed settings control how much light reach reaches the camera sensor. Aperture is the device in the lens that allows more or less light. Shutter speed is a measurement of how long the shutter is open when a picture is taken. A camera with manual aperture and shutter speed settings allow for greater creative flexibility in your photography, as you can photograph in various light settings and create aperture and shutter settings typically not set by an automatic camera. Typical aperture ranges from f2.8 (most open) to f16 (most closed). Shutter speeds from 1/30 to 1/10, 000. ISO Numbers A camera$s ISO number reflects how light-sensitive the film is. Cameras with higher ISO numbers require less light for exposures. Most digital camera$s ISO numbers are between 80 $ 200. Storage Digital cameras are offering more and more storage, which, thankfully, decreases the length of time between file transfers between your camera and computer. Hardware and software Many digital cameras come with digital photography software that allows for photo manipulation, slide show creation, and e-mail capability. Most cameras come with USB cables that provide fast upload to your computer. Things to look for: Assuming you are new to this and not going to be a professional, but rather just an advanced amateur (french derivative of lover ) photographer, then the following things are of greater significance than many 'manual override' features. Optical viewfinders are for action shots, LCD view finders for set pieces and confirmation. Double AA batteries and NOT PROPRIETARY batteries for ready accessibility on vacation. Triple AAA batteries just don't last as long. Try to obtain AA NiMh batteries with 2300+ MAh output and use a charger that takes 6- 8 hours to charge and carry spare batteries. Totally drain the batteries (use a flashlight) often. The quick ( 1- 2 hr) chargers are hard on the batteries and battery life is reduced. An 'Optical' zoom of at least 3X and never EVER use 'digital zoom'! . A 'digital zoom' is a marketing term for 'cheap' cropping of a picture best done in the computer. Here is where more megapixels come in handy. If not using proper posture then a tripod or monopod are 'der rigeur' for most shots, ask a professional how to hold a camera. Avoid arms length shots if possible. A flash that can be shut off, i.e. no 'pre-flash' to gauge distance or colour balance. It is disturbing in a theatre or meeting. The camera should have an 'auto light' balance without using the flash. The 'red-eye' feature should be used as little as possible as it warns and/or annoys people. Just ask them not to look directly into the camera but rather off to the side (same with eyeglasses). A flash that gives good results out to 20+ ft. most flashes are pathetic excuses. Try it first in a dimly lit room. A pixel count of about 4.0 megapixels is suitable for 98% of amateur shots. Actually if you are only going to ever view your pictures on your computer and not print them even a 2.0 megapixel camera is sufficient. Carry spare memory cards of a smaller capacity. Unless doing a theatre play or concert there is no need to be able to take 500 pictures, even on vacation. Who can remember that many place names anyway. With several 50 - 100 shot 'magazines' you are forced to download sooner while your memory is fresh. PLUS you avoid losing irreplaceable pictures through careless use or lending the camera to junior for his beach party. Give him / her their own memory card. Look for a fast 'dump' time. i.e. giving at least 3 shots @ 1 sec. intervals. These will increase if you use a smaller file size so ask at what resolution you get these results. Also a flash that will cycle as fast as needed. A camera that has good low light clarity to avoid using flash at regular room light levels. A camera with a self timer, be there such a beast that doesn't have one? A camera where the 'DATE SETTING" can be shut off. It looks tacky when showing 'quality' pictures especially when the date resets itself to 01/01/1999 because the batteries were left out or went dead. A camera with a manual 'long distance and macro setting' to take pictures through windows or window screens thus avoiding a picture of the screen/window itself. Pick up a small pocket tripod/clamp/ multitool style support. Something than clamps onto a car window or a post or a table edge. Look around. A note on e-mail picture file size. Unless the recipient is on broadband internet, keep file size to under 180k. Computer screens are 72 dpi and for a 5 x 7 picture that will never be printed out, that is more than enough. It is very annoying to a dial-up client to have to wait 15 minutes to download each 3 Megabyte picture. Answer
Here is a short list of things to consider: 1. How much money do you want to spend? You can get very good "point and shoot" cameras with basic controls and capabilities for $200 - $350. Full-featured cameras will cost more. 2. Do you prefer a small "pocket" camera, or something larger? The bigger the camera, the less likely you will be to carry it with you. The smaller the camera, the less likely it will have a full range of controls or adequate zoom capability. 3. Do you want to make really large prints? If so, you may want something with more megapixals. For on-line photo sharing and normal sized photos, you don't need more than about 5 megapixals, and can even do fine with 3 or 4. Anything higher than 5 or 6 megapixals will not be very useful to most people, and really eats up memory. 4. Would a telephoto lens be useful to you or not? If you have kids, it's a great thing to have, particularly if they play sports. You want "optical zoom", not "digital zoom". Most pocket cameras will have around 3x optical zoom, but for really good results you want more (you can get up to 12x currently). If you choose one with high zoom capability, make sure the camera has "image stabilzation", which will help keep your images sharp and clear even at high zoom. Without it, you will need a tripod to use your "super zoom". 5. Do you prefer recharging the battery that comes with the camera, or the ability to buy new batteries whenever you need them? Make sure you know what kind the camera you're buying uses. Digital cameras can really use a lot of juice, so you may want to pick up an extra battery, or choose rechargeable lithium batteries (or something similar). 6. Do you want the ability to shoot short video clips too? Many digital cameras have a video function, good for very short clips. The quality is usually not so good, but it is better than carrying both a still camera and a video camera around.
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