eBay Guides - Digital Cameras Buying Guide
Skip to main content

 Reviews & Guides

      Reviews & Guides home page   

Digital Cameras Buying Guide

Tags:  digital cameras | megapixels | slr | point & shoot | optical zoomWrite a guide!

As the popularity of digital cameras has exploded, so has the number of choices available to you. Optical zoom, face-recognition technology, swappable lenses, and video capture are just a few of the bells and whistles you can choose from. Most importantly, you want to find a camera that takes great pictures and fits your lifestyle. On eBay you can find a camera that’s right for you, whether you’re a casual snapper or an experienced pro.

Discover Digital Camera Types

Discover Digital Camera Types

Are you the type of picture-taker who’s happy taking a few impromptu shots at parties to share with friends? If so, a basic camera may be all you need. But if you zealously capture every milestone and enjoy cropping and sizing your photos to perfection, look for a camera that gives you more control over your images. And if photography is your life’s work, you’ll want a camera that helps you get the sharpest, most professional pictures.

Basic Point-and-Shoot

Want to post some images to your web site or email a few shots to friends? An entry-level camera should fill the bill. These basic models are also ideal if you’re just getting the hang of digital photography. Limited manual controls on these cameras mean that all you have to do is point the camera at your subject and click the shutter. You can find budget models with resolution of less than 3 megapixels, but some point-and-shoot cameras have resolutions of 5 to 6 megapixels, which means sharper, clearer photos. Look for brands like Canon and Sony.

Advanced Point-and-Shoot

These cameras let you capture images the way you want to. Manual shooting modes mean you can adjust the shutter speed or aperture to meet your specifications. You’ll also get higher resolution, better lens quality, optical zoom, and data ports. Fuji, Olympus,and Samsung make popular models.

Digital SLR

High-end digital cameras offer you increased creative control. You’ll get resolution of 10 megapixels or more, meaning you can print out large shots with little or no graininess. You can exchange camera lenses, on the camera, and the lenses tend to be of higher quality. Some digital SLR cameras even allow you to use lenses made for film cameras. You’ll also find a number of professional-level manual controls that let you shoot and manipulate your images to your heart’s content. Nikon, Canon, Sony, and Pentax are popular brands.

Back to topBack to top

Evaluate Digital Camera Features

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.

Image Stabilizer

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.

View Finder

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.

Back to topBack to top

Find Digital Cameras on eBay

Find Digital Cameras on eBay

Once you know what type of digital camera you want, go to the Cameras & Photos portal, click Digital Cameras or Digital Camera Accessories, and start searching for items on eBay.

  • Categories: The Categories list on the left side of each page will help you narrow down your listings by item type. You'll find links for Point & Shoot, Digital SLR, Specialty Digital Cameras, and more. As you dig deeper into the site you'll also be able to narrow down your choice by brand and resolution.

  • Product Finder: Use the drop-down menus on the Digital Cameras Finder to quickly narrow down item listings by brand, type, resolution, optical zoom, and condition.    

  • Keyword search: Search eBay listing titles for specific words. For example, if you want to find a SLR digital camera, type "SLR" (without quotation marks) into the Search box. Click "Search title and description" to expand your results. Visit eBay's Search Tips page for more tips on searching with keywords.

If you can't find exactly what you want, try shopping eBay Stores, tell the eBay Community what you want by creating a post on Want It Now, or save a search on My eBay and eBay will email you when a match becomes available.

Back to topBack to top

Buy Digital Cameras With Confidence

Buy Digital Cameras With Confidence

Before making your purchase, make sure you know exactly what you're buying, research your seller, and understand how eBay and PayPal protect you.

Know your purchase

Carefully read the details in item listings.

  • Figure delivery costs into your final price. If you spend a lot of money, make sure the seller will insure the item when it ships.

  • If you want more information, ask by clicking the "Ask seller a question" link under the seller's profile.

  • Always make sure to complete your transaction on eBay (with a bid, Buy It Now, or Best Offer). Transactions conducted outside of eBay are not covered by eBay protection programs.

  • Never pay for your eBay item using instant cash wire transfer services through Western Union or MoneyGram. These payment methods are unsafe when paying someone you do not know.

Know your seller

Research your seller so you feel positive and secure about every transaction.

  • What is the seller's Feedback rating? How many transactions have they completed? What percentage of positive responses do they have?

  • What do buyers say in their Feedback? Did the seller receive praise?

  • Most top eBay sellers operate like retail stores and have return policies. Do they offer a money-back guarantee? What are the terms and conditions?

Buyer protection

In the unlikely event that a problem arises during your transaction, eBay and PayPal are there for you.

  • Pay safely with PayPal: PayPal enables you to pay without the seller ever seeing your bank account or credit card numbers. In fact, PayPal protects buyers 100% against unauthorized payments from their accounts. Plus, with PayPal Buyer Protection, your purchase can be covered up to $2,000.

  • eBay Security & Resolution Center: Visit the Security & Resolution Centerto learn how to protect your account and use eBay's quick and efficient resolution tools.

Back to topBack to top

Ready to share your thoughts with the eBay community? Write a guide!
 Content Provided By