Thursday, December 11, 2008

Get the Goods: Tips on Camera Shopping

Over the weekend, I got a great email from "Digi Pixels" with Ritz Pix featuring tips on camera shopping.

Here is Digi's Photo Tip No. 61:

The gift-giving season is upon us! Have you made your list and checked it twice? I have a great suggestion…a digital camera! You might say, "There are so many to choose from -- which one should I buy, Digi?" Well, I'm glad you asked! Read on for some tips for buying a digital camera this holiday season...

Point and Shoot vs. DSLR
Before going to the camera store, ask yourself, "what kind of pictures will so-and-so be taking?" If they are more likely to take party shots and candids, then a point and shoot camera is probably the best bet. If they will be taking more advanced photos and are serious (or at least, mildly interested) about the craft of photography, then you should look into getting them a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera. Here are the differences between the two:

Point and Shoot – These are smaller cameras with a fixed lens and built in flash, and typically are pocket-size cameras.
DSLR – These cameras allow you to look through a lens and shoot. You can change lenses, use an external flash, and have more control over advanced features and settings. Typically, DSLR cameras are larger and more expensive.
Additional Questions to Ask
Once you decide between the two basic camera types, ask yourself the following additional questions. Go to the store prepared to tell the clerk exactly what features you must have and what you can live without:

Will the person you are buying for use mostly automatic settings, manual settings, or a mix? Most Point and Shoot and DSLR cameras provide options for both auto and manual settings, but DSLR cameras provide more control and are more advanced in general.

How much zooming will you need? Do you need telephoto lenses?DSLR cameras allow you to use various lenses, while Point and Shoot cameras come with a built in lens that usually cannot be changed. Keep in mind that some extreme zooms produce a lower quality image.

Is a built in flash enough or do you need to be able to use an external flash? Point and Shoot cameras usually have a built in flash and probably cannot be connected to an external flash, while DSLR cameras allow you to use an external flash (as well as other hardware accessories). An external flash is always better than a built in flash because it provides better lighting and more control.

Does the camera fit the person's hands? If the person you are buying for has large hands then a small camera may be hard for them to operate and adjust. Point and Shoot cameras are typically smaller, while the DSLR cameras are larger and require you to carry them by hand or in a case.

Is the viewing screen big enough? Larger viewing screens allow for easier viewing and shooting but may not always be necessary depending on the situation. Viewing screen sizes vary on both camera types.

Don't forget about accessories: memory card, tripod, protective case, batteries, etc.

Don't get caught up in "Megapixel Mania!"
Most cameras nowadays come with at least 5 megapixels, which is more than enough for an 11x14 print. If you think the person you are buying for will be ordering large prints frequently, then you may want to look into a camera with a higher megapixel range. But if the person will be printing mostly 4x6 prints, do not spend more money to get more megapixels. Higher megapixel images take up more room on a memory card, so more megapixels may in fact be disadvantageous in some situations. The bottom line is to look at the lifestyle of the person you are buying for and decide based on that.

I hope this helps you decide which camera to buy this holiday season! Next time we'll look at how to take beautiful photos of Holiday light displays. Until then, have fun shopping, and Happy Holidays!


2sweetnsaxy said...

Great tips. Thanks. :-)

Sheba Wheeler said...

Glad they were of help!

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