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Buying a DIGITAL camera

Created date

March 22nd, 2011

Taking photos and getting 35mm film developed is a thing of the past. Digital cameras today allow you to download photos right to a computer, print them on your own printer, upload them to a photo printing service or Facebook, and e-mail them to friends and family. If you haven t made the switch yet or are looking to upgrade from an older digital camera, you might be wondering where to begin. There are many types of cameras on the market that range in price and features. Finding the one best suited for you will depend on what you intend to use the camera for. The two main categories of cameras are digital SLR and point-and-shoot.

Digital SLR

If you are a hobbiest or have always wanted to become an amateur photographer, you may want to consider a digital SLR, which offers the ability to swap out the lens. These cameras can cost several hundred dollars and are not for everyone. There is also a steep learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, the trade-off is good-looking photos that can be printed out as large as poster size. Digital SLRs enable you to zoom in for high-quality, detailed close-up scenes such as insects or flowers. Many models also allow you to record high-definition video at a quality that competes with or exceeds some digital video cameras on the market today. Be aware that these cameras can be quite heavy, especially with a longer lens attached.

The point-and-shoot

If you want a digital camera that automates everything, and don t plan on printing your shots any larger than 8 by 10 inches, then a point-and-shoot is for you. These cameras get their name because you simply point the camera at your subject and press the shoot button to take the picture. For most people, these cameras take the guesswork out of the equation and are easy to use. They also offer the ability to zoom in to a shot with a digital or optical zoom. There are fewer settings to be concerned with when compared to a digital SLR. Most point-and-shoot cameras have a setting that will automatically trigger the flash if not enough light is available. Many also offer preconfigured settings for different scenes such as outside shots, behind glass, or taking pictures of food. These cameras are usually smaller in size and weight and are easy to carry. Look for models that shoot up to 10 to 12 MP (megapixels), an optical zoom of up to 10x in addition to the standard digital zoom, face detection, red eye removal, image stabilization, and HD movie capture. In the next Plugged in, I ll discuss different software and methods for downloading your photos to your computer.

For beginners

Digital SLR cameras These cameras are known for their quality as well as their ease of use for novice photographers.
  • Pantax K-X
  • Nikon D3100
  • Canon Rebel Xti
  • Sony Alpha SLTA33
Point-and-shoot If all those buttons and switches are too much, these might be more your speed.
  • Sony Cyber-shot
  • DSC-HX7V
  • Nikon Coolpix S6100
  • Canon PowerShot SD1400
For reviews of these and more cameras, go to: