Evaluate Digital Camera Features
The type of digital camera you buy will depend on how you intend to use it. Will you be viewing and sharing your pictures on a computer or do you plan to make a lot of prints? Are there specific features you'd like, such as a powerful zoom for close-ups or even a video-recording mode? Consider the following features to determine your needs.
Resolution is synonymous with image quality. The more pixels a camera has, the higher its resolution will be, and the sharper the pictures will look. More resolution also means that you can enlarge your prints with less graininess. A 3x5 photo may look just fine whether it’s from a 3-megapixel camera or a 6-megapixel camera. But blow that same shot up to 8x10, and the differences in resolution will become apparent.
If you’re looking for a great deal, you can find 4- and 5-megapixel cameras, perfect for prints, on eBay at bargain prices. Some digital SLR cameras have resolutions of 10 megapixels or higher, but you’ll pay more for that quality.
A digital camera’s memory card is like a roll of film. It stores your images until you’re ready to view them on your computer or print them out. Once your memory card is full, you can take it out of the camera and replace it with a new one, or you can delete your old photos from the card and start anew.
You can choose from a range of formats, like CompactFlash, Memory Stick, SmartMedia, and xD picture cards. Memory cards are measured in megabytes. The more megabytes you have, the more pictures you can fit on the card. You can also fit more pictures on a card by reducing the quality of the images that you’re shooting.
Digital cameras generally come with small memory cards. It’s a good idea to have a larger one on hand so you can take more pictures. Just as you wouldn’t go on vacation with just one roll of film, so you shouldn’t pack just one memory card.
Digital cameras can drain batteries quickly. Luckily, many cameras accept rechargeable NiMH batteries. If you keep an extra set of batteries on hand, you’ll always be ready to capture the action. Viewing images on your camera and downloading pictures to your computer tax the batteries, so use the camera’s AC adapter for these functions.
Digital cameras use two types of zoom lenses: digital and optical. In general, optical zoom is preferable because it changes the magnification of the image before the image is captured, resulting in higher picture quality. Digital zoom enlarges the size of the pixels, not the image itself, so you may find a loss of resolution.
With digital cameras there is often a delay between the time you press the shutter and the time the image is captured. If you want to take lots of pictures in rapid succession, look for a camera with the least amount of delay. Otherwise you’ll have to wait several seconds or more between shots.
Without a tripod to hold your camera still, it’s easy to jostle the camera at the most inopportune moments—just as you hit the shutter for instance. The result: blurred images. But cameras with an image stabilizer feature capture clearer images, even if your hand shakes a little.
Face Recognition Technology
Sometimes, there’s a lot going on in the image you’re trying to capture. You’ve got the people and the background, and usually you want to focus on the people. Cameras with face recognition technology help you do just that. No more crystal-clear backdrops with friends’ faces melting into a haze.
An optical viewfinder is the little window you look through to see the image you’re about to snap. This is adequate in most cases. But a liquid crystal display (LCD) screen in the back of the camera allows you to see more of what you’re about to take a picture of. It also lets you review your shots right in the camera.